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West Meck coach Caldwell confident team can replace stars Jalan McClendon, Shaun Wilson

By Tyler Everett
Correspondent
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/08/01/22/58/ju5VU.Em.138.jpeg|239
    TODD SUMLIN - tsumlin@charlotteobserver.com
    Quarterback Ron Porter, a junior transfer from Mallard Creek, drops back for a pass during the first day of practice at West Mecklenburg Friday. He and junior Malcolm Rogers are expected to split time once the season begins.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/08/01/22/58/OB0VP.Em.138.jpeg|347
    TODD SUMLIN - tsumlin@charlotteobserver.com
    West Meck coach Jeff Caldwell, left, said his team can win without stars Jalan McClendon and Shaun Wilson.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/08/01/22/58/1qfICG.Em.138.jpeg|186
    TODD SUMLIN - tsumlin@charlotteobserver.com
    Players gather under a dreary sky for the first day of practice at West Mecklenburg High School Friday.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/08/01/22/58/1nd5x3.Em.138.jpeg|165
    TODD SUMLIN - tsumlin@charlotteobserver.com
    Players huddle on the field for the first day of practice at West Mecklenburg High School Friday.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/08/01/22/58/EYAz5.Em.138.jpeg|220
    TODD SUMLIN - tsumlin@charlotteobserver.com
    Coach Jeff Caldwell works with quarterbacks during the first day of practice at West Mecklenburg High School Friday.

Despite the chatter he has heard about what his team lost to graduation, West Meck coach Jeff Caldwell is confident the Hawks will be able to compete for a SoMeck 8 conference championship.

“It’s not as bad as what people think it is,” Caldwell said of the losses of quarterback Jalan McClendon and running back Shaun Wilson, now with N.C. State and Duke, respectively. “If they read too much of the paper, they will be disappointed.”

On Friday’s first official practice of the season, Caldwell made note of the athleticism and depth of a young group featuring several incoming transfers. One of the Hawks’ top returning players is defensive back Domenique Williams. It was a big day for the senior, who committed to play for Princeton prior to practice.

“Princeton, I feel at home there,” Williams said. “I like the DB coach – we had a good connection. They’re also Ivy League, so you can’t beat the education.”

Ronald Porter, a junior transfer from Mallard Creek, and fellow junior Malcolm Rogers have been splitting reps at quarterback. Caldwell said he expects to start the season with both players getting reps under center.

One big target for whoever runs the offense will be Victor Harris, a 6-foot-5 wide receiver who transferred to West Meck from Phillip O . Berry Academy.

The West Meck defense will be led by defensive coordinator Ben McGarrity, who joins the Hawks after a stint at Providence Day. McGarrity, who coached with Caldwell when both were assistants at Olympic in 2006, will oversee a scheme shift from a 4-2-5 to a 4-3, Cover 2 defense.

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