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Season Preview: Talented Anderson squad rocking the Blues

Anderson looks to stake claim on Northern Athletic League title as host of returning skill players do damage behind gigantic line

SWEET SOUND OF VICTORY: The Anderson Cubs hope to sing a victory song this season with a giant offensive line returning as well as a host of skill guys. Leading the Cubs’ band this year will be, from left, Cody Crawford, Marcus Trotter, Mason Fuentes, Jamie Cushman Jr. and Marquice Crowell. (Photos by Tony Hord, Photo illustrations by Aaron Williams/Shasta County Sports)

By Joseph Shufelberger, Special to Shasta County Sports

The Anderson High football team is likely to keep it simple in critical situations this season.

“If we need a couple of yards, or probably even six,” Marcus Trotter said, “we’re running it down your throats.”

There’s a reason for that.

The Cubs boast just about the biggest offensive line found in the Northern Section and certainly in Shasta County, fueling optimism for even more success in Don Trotter’s fourth season as head coach.

Led by the right side of the line with senior Jamie Cushman Jr., a 6-foot-4, 335-pound behemoth at tackle, and the younger Trotter, a 6-2, 280-pounder moving to guard after starting at left tackle as a sophomore last season, Anderson aims for its first Northern Section title since 2006.

Manning the middle is senior center Payton Baugher, the smallest member of the unit at 205 pounds while the left side features tackle Soren Weeks, who dropped about 20 pounds from a 6-1 frame to get to 300, and Chiewo Wilson (6-4, 255) at guard.

“They’ll be our heart and soul of our offense,” said Don Trotter, who has guided the Cubs to a 23-13 record in his three seasons that included 10 victories and a section finals appearance in 2017.

Last year, Anderson went 3-2 in the Northern Athletic League, good for third place, and finished 7-4 overall after earning the fifth seed in the Division III playoffs.

The Cubs’ sights are set much higher for this season, thanks in large part to their mammoth offensive line.

“Our line is stupid big,” said Mason Fuentes, a returning starter at cornerback who also takes over at quarterback this season. “I think it’s going to be the best in the league. We’re going to win most of our games just because of them.”

Fuentes’ capacity to be a dual threat adds to the Cubs’ outlook.

“Mason has the ability to be able to run, scramble and throw the ball,” said senior Marquice Crowell. “He’s got such an amazing arm from baseball and all the other sports he does. His arm is incredible, and his accuracy is on point.”

Crowell could benefit from that. A three-year starter at cornerback, the senior also led Anderson with 29 catches, 612 yards receiving and five touchdown grabs in 2018. Those totals all dwarfed the rest of the Cubs’ combined efforts.

Fellow returning wideout Christian Teague is another athlete capable of making plays.

Running behind that sizable line figures to be Cody Crawford. Moving over from tight end a season ago, he’ll take as many carries as he can while maintaining his role as Anderson’s defensive leader at middle linebacker. In 2018, he tallied 135 tackles, good for the sixth-best total in the section.

“Their talent level never has been a question,” said the elder Trotter. “We had 12, 15 kids in the weight room all summer long. Their biggest challenge is themselves this year.”

The barrel-chested Crawford provides a big test for opposing offenses.

“It gives you a little peace of mind,” Trotter said, “that at least they’re not running where he’s at.”

Just imagine what it’ll be like when the 5-10, 245-pounder is running at defenses behind that offensive line. It’ll take more than an arm-tackle to bring the senior down.

Last year, the Cubs relied on Parker Phillips to carry the workload, and the standout finished with 1,843 yards and 28 touchdowns with both figures ending up second in the section.

While there will be more of a committee approach with Crawford needed so much on defense, Trotter knows he’ll be able to lead the way in the offensive backfield, too.

“He’s a big-time throwback. The hardest worker we have by far,” Trotter said. “We’re going to use him as much as we possibly can.”

Crawford doesn’t want it any other way.

“If we run through the middle every time, I know no one can get past those kids,” he said, “and no kid can stop me one-on-one.”

Teague joins Crawford at linebacker, and Rowdy Seaters is another option there in addition to wideout.

The secondary rivals the offensive line for experience and talent with Crowell and Fuentes returning as starting cornerbacks and Devin Wilson doing the same at safety.

Crowell had four interceptions, and Fuentes, despite missing time last season because of an injury, had three.

Kicker Brian Melendez was an all-section pick as a sophomore when he made 11 field goals. His junior campaign was curtailed by injury, but he returns as a senior.

Staff Reports is content produced by the Shasta County Sports team.

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