Off the football field, Greenville Christian School football player Buster Willis is a polite young man with a friendly disposition and a good sense of humor. But, once he steps on the gridiron, he said, his whole personality changes.
“I love the game of football because I like to hit people,” he said. “That is why I like playing linebacker on offense and hammer back on defense. I just like to hit people. It’s fun.”
Willis is looking forward to this season more than any other because it will be his senior year and because of all the uncertainty surrounding whether or not his Saints would even get to play. GCS, which plays in the MAIS, is scheduled to play its first game Aug. 21 on the road against Tri-County Academy.
While Willis has been playing for the GCS program for seven years, he will still have to learn a lot of new teammates for his senior campaign.
There will be many new faces on his Saints’ roster this season.
“On a normal year, we might have just a couple kids who are new to our team, but this year we will have quite a few more,” GCS head football coach Jon Reed McLendon said.
A few of the new players on McLendon’s team will be transfer students from the Greenville Public School District and the Western Line School District, McLendon said. The Greenville Public School District and the Western Line School District have both canceled their football seasons over concerns related to COVID-19.
Along with Willis, other team veterans on GCS this season include running back Marlon Palmer and lineman Wendell Poindexter.
“I think with Marlon and the guys we have on the offensive line that we are going to run the football. We might not be able to do anything else, but I think we will be able to run the ball,” said McLendon, who is entering his 7th season as the GCS head coach.
Other players expected to make an impact for the Saints include wide receivers Damon Barnes and J.J. Webb, along with linebacker John Martin.
Greenville High transfer Juandarrius Shaw is also expected to make a big impact on both sides of the line.
“The summer has been strange just because you don’t know. There is a lot of uncertainty and that is sort of frustrating,” McLendon said. “Not knowing what we are going to be doing. Not knowing how many kids we are going to have because the parents won’t let them play.
You just don’t know. So all of that has been frustrating.”
While the summer may have been challenging, players like Willis say they will be ready to play when they kickoff their season Friday night.
“I am extremely happy that I am going to get to play,” Willis said. “I can’t wait.”