Ernie Pennington doesn’t keep track of how long he’s been volunteering for the Courtland athletic department on Friday nights.
Pennington said he simply does it for enjoyment and has no interest in noting the length of time he’s served.
“On game day I try to do the little things to help the AD be able to concentrate on his duties and not worry about the little things that need to get done,” Pennington said.
Courtland athletic director Ronnie Lowman is certainly appreciative.
Every week Pennington shows up at least three hours before kickoff. He reserves parking spaces near the back of the stadium entrance for the visiting team and cheerleaders.
He greets the visitors as they arrive and points the players, coaches and other personnel to their locker room. He ensures game officials have a location where they can get prepared for action.
When the game is going on, Pennington makes sure the visiting locker room and other areas remain secure. He reopens the locker room at halftime.
“Along with anything that comes up in the middle of the game if somebody needs to get back in the locker room I’m there,” Pennington said. “It’s much easier for Mr. Lowman if he’s able to concentrate on the game and he doesn’t have to leave the field once the game starts.”
After the game, Pennington reopens the locker room and allows officials to shower and depart. When game action stops around 9:30 p.m., Pennington sticks around at least one hour beyond that. He also assists in cleaning up the stadium and dumping trash.
Pennington, a Spotsylvania County native, is a former assistant baseball coach at Courtland and Spotsylvania. He’s also a former teacher at John J. Wright.
Coach J.C. Hall said he’s in a unique position this fall with four of his five offensive linemen returning but little experience in the backfield. The Cougars are breaking in three new running backs after three-year starters Zin White, D.J. Jones and Kam’Ron Taylor graduated. Massaponax transfer Alieas Harriott is light but has a burst. Jason Lomax and Thor Hanlon offer a mix of speed and power. The already strong line got a boost from Massaponax transfer Jerome Crawford. The Cougars completed just nine passes last season but Hall expects Raul Gil to get the ball to speedy athletes Addie Burrow, Sean Wray and Maurice Howard on the perimeter.
Hanlon and Chris Reynoso can wreak havoc at the ends. Hanlon, whom Hall calls a “throwback” player, is also capable of moving inside. Linebacker Austin Monroe, a first-team all-region performer, took every defensive snap as a sophomore. Hall has six quality defensive backs to rotate. Burrow, a University of Virginia baseball commit, has the speed and IQ to play cornerback or safety. Gil is also versatile. Lomax and Howard will man the cornerback positions, while Wray and Harriott will help out at safety.
The Cougars’ punting and kicking situations were unsettled late into camp. Harriott and Howard. Gil and Burrow will likely serve as return men.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The Cougars have just 31 players so they’ll need to avoid injuries to repeat last season’s 8–3 record. Several key performers will play on both sides of the ball. The offensive line should be one of the best Hall has had in his 17-year tenure, but chemistry with the new offensive backfield is a work in progress. Courtland must find a way to generate big plays after completing just nine of 45 pass attempts last season. The Cougars’ schedule is manageable after a tough season-opener against Louisa.
17th season (126-62)
“I always hang my hat on if you can throw 9-for-45 on the season and you go 8-2 [in the regular season] you’re doing something right. We’re going to be OK. The positives are we’ve got our offensive line returning. We’ve got to get our young guys up to par just like we do every year.”
QB Raul Gil 6-1 181 Jr.
RB Alieas Harriott 5-9 145 So.
RB Jason Lomax 5-8 160 Jr.
RB Thor Hanlon 6-2 232 Sr.
TE Nick Burns 5-10 168 Jr.
WR Addie Burrow 6-2 180 Sr.
T Jerome Crawford 6-0 326 Jr.
G Marlon Dozier 6-0 248 Sr.
C Jalen Mayle 5-11 293 Sr.
G Brandon Walsh 6-0 278 So.
T Vick Leon 5-11 263 Sr.
K Clay Cassiday 6-1 219 Jr.
DE Chris Reynoso 6-0 181 Sr.
DT Vick Leon 5-11 263 Sr.
DT Jaylen Mayle 5-11 293 Sr.
DE Thor Hanlon 6-2 232 Sr.
LB Austin Monroe 6-0 197 Jr.
LB Qua DeBerry 5-8 155 Jr.
LB Nick Burns 5-10 168 Jr.
DB Addie Burrow 6-2 180 Sr.
DB Raul Gil 6-1 181 Jr.
DB Alieas Harriott 5-9 145 So.
DB Jason Lomax 5-8 160 Jr.
P Raul Gil 6-1 181 Jr.