Ready to Rumble – Greenville’s Young Christian Team Fights to Maintain Program Momentum
Greenville Christian School’s Jon Reed McLendon, still a young coach by most standards, could coach for another three decades and not have the talent he had in the past two seasons. In 2020 and 2021, thanks in part to many area schools reducing their hours due to the pandemic, McLendon and his staff have compiled one of the most talented rosters the Delta has ever seen. The Saints were a super team of players from across the Delta that won back-to-back state champions and also made national and statewide news.
It’s been quite a journey for McLendon and his Saints, but now that 22 seniors have graduated, many on college football scholarships, and the pandemic isn’t affecting local football teams as much, buzz around the program des Saints has calmed down a bit. .
“What we went through last season, with all the media and everything, was more than we had to deal with before. Parts of the last two years were exhausting. It was tough managing expectations and all the noise that comes with those expectations. And some people on the outside were just looking for us to fail and some of them were trying as well,” McLendon said.
This year, the Saints no longer look like a super team, but that doesn’t mean the players and coaches aren’t hoping to maintain much of their momentum.
“We really like the group we have,” McLendon said. “We still believe and hope that we can capitalize on the momentum we have created. Maybe we won’t have this type of group every year, but we can still compete for championships in our category every year. We will always expect to play good football.
McLendon said his team next year will be made up of a number of youngsters who come out of last year’s high school junior squad. He said the few seniors in this year’s squad are expected to show great leadership.
Strong safety Trey Rhodes, for example, was a starter on last year’s state championship team. Rhodes sees this season as his time to both shine and lead.
“I’m going to do the same as last year, but better,” Rhodes said. “We have a lot of young children who are inexperienced. The seniors who played last year must lead the way. Just like the seniors on last year’s team showed me, now I’m going to have to show them.
“We are not going to back down. We still have the same expectations as last year and that is to win a state championship.
Besides Rhodes, other Saints expected to make an immediate impact include junior safety Patrick Travis, senior wide receiver Tae Miles, senior all-rounder Letavion Knox, senior defensive back Kelvin Lyons, second Aaron Lee and defensive end senior Kingston Grant.
As they have for the past two years, Coach McLendon and his staff are once again playing one of the toughest competitions in the state. The Saints open the season Aug. 11 on the road against Madison-Ridgeland Academy, then travel to Jackson Prep on Aug. 19. GCS will also play Jackson Academy on September 30.
“We enjoy these games. It makes sense that you can get these games because it gives us the opportunity to get tested and improve,” McLendon said.