The Eagles are ready to put last season in the rear-view mirror.

SOUTH DAYTONA — No football team in the area faced more adversity than Warner Christian did in 2018.

The Eagles had two head coaches in the span of six months, fielded a team of mostly middle school players and freshmen, and faced a daunting schedule where they were overmatched every single week.

The end result, predictably, wasn’t good. Warner went 0-10, and scored a mere 12 points all season against varsity opponents.

Nearly one year later, and on the eve of their preseason opener on Friday, there finally seems to be light at the end of the tunnel.

“They stay committed to the program and committed to us as coaches,” said second-year head coach Mike Bonneville, who took over last summer. “Now, you’re going to see what we can do. We’re excited about this season.”

With a year of experience under their belts — most players had never played in high school before last season — the mood around the Warner Christian locker room has been noticeably different three weeks into fall camp. Over the offseason, the Eagles also moved out into the Independent League, which should help even out the competition over the next two months as the program continues to rebuild.

“Everybody has about 22 players, just like us,” Bonneville said. “I think by going into this league it gives the kids something to fight for. When Warner was good back in the day they had a three-team district. This year we’ll be in a three-team district.”

Not only will the Eagles be in a new league in 2019 but they’ll also be doing so with a new man under center in quarterback Mason Lewis. The 6-foot-2 senior impressed all throughout spring camp and flourished during 7-on-7’s during the summer. Three weeks into fall camp, the offense has been noticeably better, according to Bonneville.

“He’s perfect for this offense,” he added.

Lewis said he’s embraced the leadership role that comes with the position, and expects the Eagles to more pass-heavy in 2019.

“Before we were primarily a running team,” he said. “We still are, but I think we’ve definitely improved in the passing game. Now, I think (defenses) will have to think twice.”

When the Eagles do run, expect seniors Michael Oliver and Cody Williams to carry the load. Both were also first-time players last year, but come back as captains, along with Lewis, for the 2019 season.

“The team has definitely gotten a lot stronger,” Williams said. “The boys are getting bigger, more defined. They’re becoming young men. I’m looking forward to this season … I think we’ll do really well.”

The Eagles face Mount Dora Christian in Friday’s Kickoff Classic before opening the regular season Aug. 23 at Merritt Island Christian.

“We trust each other,” Oliver said. “We’ve been working out together all summer, three days a week, every morning. We went to Miami for a football camp. Just as a team, we’ve gotten a lot closer.”

 

AT A GLANCE

2018 RECORD

0-10

HEAD COACH

Mike Bonneville, second year

DISTRICT

Independent

MARQUEE MATCHUP

Aug. 23 at Merritt Island Christian. The Eagles scored 12 points against varsity competition last season, and they all came in a 44-12 loss to the Cougars. This season-opener could be a good gauge of what Warner has this season.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

1. QB Mason Lewis. The senior should make the Eagles more dynamic on offense in 2019.

2. RB/LB Michael Oliver. A two-way player, Oliver will be all over the field this fall.

3. RB/LB Cody Williams. Another first-time player last season, the senior captain should be more comfortable this year.

2019 SCHEDULE

Aug. 23: at Merritt Island Christian, 7 p.m.

Aug. 30: BYE

Sept. 6: Cocoa Beach, 7 p.m.

Sept. 13: at St. Edward's, 7 p.m.

Sept. 20: St. Johns Country Day, 7 p.m.

Sept. 27: at Berean Christian. 7 p.m.

Oct. 4: BYE

Oct. 11: at All Saints, 7 p.m.

Oct. 18: Trinity Prep, 7 p.m.