Brick by brick, Marcus Cannon has helped Unity Christian Academy build a successful football program.
In its first five years of existence, the Soldiers have only gotten better and better.
And, this upcoming season, Unity Christian Academy may have its best season yet.
The Leland-based school, which plays 8-man football, is entering its second season in the Heartland Christian Athletic Association (HCAA). Unity Christian is the only Mississippi school in the conference, which is comprised of small private schools from Arkansas, Kansas and Oklahoma.
Cannon and his entire coaching staff are thankful that the administration at Leland High School allows them to use their football field on Friday nights. The Soldiers play their home games at Leland High School, when Leland is traveling.
Last season, the Soldiers made it all the way to the state semifinal game as they compiled an 8-2 record.
With a bunch of talent coming back this season, it is only reasonable for the Soldiers to believe that they can make a run at the grand prize.
Cannon said his four retuning offensive linemen,
in Eric Benson, Anthony Summage, Cedric Alexander and Adarius Gipson, should be even more dominating this season.
Summage, a team leader, is a dominating pulling guard who was responsible for a number of pancake blocks. Thanks to Summage’s hard work,Unity Christian rushed for more than 2,300 yards last season. On defense, Summage had 55 total tackles and 17 tackles for a loss.
“He is a tough all around player who love playing in the trenches,” Cannon said.
Along with these linemen, the Soldiers also have two dynamic players coming back in Roymond Beasley and Dexter Smith.
Beasley had 850 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. This season Beasley is expected to take on an even bigger role since Unity Christian lost its most dominating skilled player in Terry Jones Jr. Jones Jr. is now playing football at Bellhaven University.
“I prefer to be the slot receiver this season because I love running out and making plays,” Beasley said. “But, I am willing to play whatever position my coach needs me to in order to help us win.”
Dexter Smith, meanwhile, is a cornerback and strong safety who made 50 total tackles last year and made four interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown.
“When needed, he would step down and play linebacker,” Coach Cannon said. “He has stepped up to become a leader.”
Beyond the wins and losses this season, the true measure of the team’s success, said the coach, will be how the players mature into young men.
“We put God first in everything we do,” Coach Cannon said.