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Paving the way

CENTRAL POINT — One of the last things a senior-to-be football player wants to hear is that a new head coach is being brought in over the summer.

It’s especially tough when you’re someone like Cade Weaver, who takes great pride in the recent Crater High football tradition and had long envisioned what his senior season would be like.

Instead of worrying, though, Weaver and his senior cohorts took control of the situation, even to the point of organizing a moving party to help unpack new head coach Randy Waite’s U-Haul truck.

“(Weaver’s) been instrumental in that kind of stuff as far as trying to make his senior year the most memorable it could be,” said Waite. “It’s always tough when there’s a coaching change your senior year, but he’s handled that very well; really they all have.”

However it’s all come about, Weaver said the transition has been smooth this season for all involved at Crater, which carries a 3-3 overall and 2-2 Midwestern League record into Friday’s 7 p.m. homecoming game against Ashland (2-4, 1-3).

“It was kind of scary at first with my senior year and a new coach, and you don’t know what to expect,” said the 17-year-old Weaver, “but I had an opportunity to meet coach Waite before he was hired and I like him a lot, so after that I was more confident in everything.”

Having Weaver in the fold as one of nine seniors on the squad is enough to create confidence in any situation. The 6-foot-1, 185-pounder was a key contributor a year ago for the Comets and has diversified his role this season under Waite without skipping a beat.

“He’s been an obvious playmaker on both sides of the ball,” said Waite. “That’s been a consistency for us.”

A year ago, Weaver spent most of his time as a wide receiver, finishing as the team’s second-leading receiver with 507 yards and six touchdowns on 17 catches. He also averaged 7.4 yards per carry, and his seven TDs overall ranked him third on the team.

This season, Weaver has stepped up his role as Crater’s starting safety and has shifted to the backfield in order to get more touches. His 352 yards rushing on 65 carries tops the Comets, while he’s also pulled in 12 receptions for 91 yards and totaled five TDs overall (three rushing, one receiving, one punt return).

“I feel like I definitely could’ve done some more things, but overall I’ve done all right,” Weaver said in downplaying his senior campaign. “I know I can do better.”

What has definitely felt good for Weaver is an ability to return the faith his teammates have shown in him all season.

“It means a lot to have them depend on me,” he said. “I embrace my role and try to do the best I can for my team and play hard every week. I love knowing my team is relying on me and needs me. It helps me keep going and drives me to play better.”

The impact Weaver has had goes beyond game-day statistics and were in effect last week as Crater waged a tough battle with ninth-ranked Thurston before ultimately falling 63-40. In that game, Weaver carried only 10 times for 26 yards and caught two passes for 12 yards, but his presence was enough to open the door for junior quarterback Trever Davis to have his biggest game of the season (391 yards passing, 111 yards rushing).

“On the stat sheet it looks like he did not have a very effective game, but he really did,” Waite said of Weaver. “Trever’s yardage and his yardage complement each other. They loaded the box early in the game and played man-to-man defense on the outside, so that made us throw the ball a little bit more than we normally would like to. But obviously, Trever got loose on a couple runs because they were keying on Cade, and we haven’t shown that much this year.”

Besides the obvious dual-threat ability of Davis, who took over QB duties late last season, the Comets have boasted a busy backfield that, albeit spearheaded by Weaver, has included the thumping style of junior Tony Flores and the combination ability of sophomore Gavin Acrey, who suffered a broken leg last week.

“I feel like I’m taller than a lot of those other running backs so I’m more of a good around-the-edge guy than go and truck somebody, like Tony Flores, and that just gives us another look,” said Weaver, who also plays basketball and runs track.

As he shifts from a two-back set, Weaver just adds to his breakaway potential as a sure-handed receiver.

“He’s very talented,” said Waite. “He can come out of the backfield and I really like his ability to stretch the defense as far as his pass receiving abilities go. He runs the stretch very well, he knows how to read it and knows how to get outside. He’s still developing inside but he’s always a playmaker and always runs hard.”

That Weaver is still a work in progress emulates the entire Crater program, which is made up of mostly underclassmen but has stood toe to toe with some quality teams this season and could solidify its Class 5A playoff future with a win Friday against the Grizzlies.

“I feel like a lot of people are overlooking us and sleeping on us because of our record,” said Weaver, “but we know what we can do and we’re just trying to wake everybody up.”

— Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, khenry@mailtribune.com, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry

Senior Cade Weaver is a force for the Crater football team, both as a runner and a receiver. The Comets are host to Ashland Friday night. [ANDY ATKINSON/MAIL TRIBUNE]