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Recruit-laden National Christian offers unique challenge for Polk County

National Christian Academy head coach Andre Kates joined the Eagles staff in 2016 with the goal of building NCA into a nationally ranked program. The Eagles are certainly already catching the eyes of college recruiters from coast to coast.

National Christian Academy head coach Andre Kates joined the Eagles staff in 2016 with the goal of building NCA into a nationally ranked program.

The Eagles are certainly already catching the eyes of college recruiters from coast to coast.

When National Christian steps onto W.J. Miller Field Friday evening for Polk County’s home opener (7:30 p.m. kickoff), the Eagles will boast nine players who already have scholarship offers from Division I Football Bowl Subdivision or Football Championship Subdivision schools and a program growing in reputation under Kates, a former national junior college player of the year who spent time with the Baltimore Ravens. Kates enters his third season at NCA having posted a 9-2 record a season ago.

It should prove a unique opportunity for a Wolverine squad fresh off last week’s come-from-behind 31-28 win over Chase.

“We’re looking forward to the challenge of finding out where we stand early,” said Polk County head coach Bruce Ollis. “They’ve certainly got a talented group.

“I’d venture a guess that Polk County has never played a team from Maryland. Their head coach (Kates) is a former Baltimore Raven. I’ve had several conversations with him on the phone and I can tell that he thinks he has assembled a pretty good football team. They’ve got a lot of good players.”

Foremost among the NCA prospects is 6-5, 305-pound senior offensive tackle William Harrod. Harrod is part of ESPN’s top 300 high school players in the Class of 2019 and has more than 20 Division I offers, including North Carolina and South Carolina and nearly every Power Five school. Earlier this year he named Oklahoma, Florida, LSU, Michigan, North Carolina, Oregon and Tennessee as his top seven schools.

Lining up on the other side of the NCA line is 6-5, 309-pound junior offensive tackle Aaryn Parks. Parks also has numerous Division I offers, including one from North Carolina. Junior guard Tim Lawson and senior running back Joseph Goins also have offers in hand. The 5-10, 215-pound Goins averaged almost nine yards per carry last season.

Defensively, junior defensive back Josh Moten has offers from coast to coast, including North Carolina, North Carolina State, South Carolina and Wake Forest. Sophomore defensive linemen Monkell Goodwine (6-4, 253) and Terion Sugick (6-1, 278) already own multiple offers as well as junior defensive tackle Eugene Brown (6-4, 315) and senior defensive back Troy Adams.

National Christian will be making its season debut on Friday.

“We know they’ve got talented athletes,” Ollis said. “They are big up front. They’ve got a bevy of good receivers, a good running back and a good quarterback (Jalen Lea). We’re going to have to show up and be ready to play.

“One thing we have to be concerned with is their vertical passing game. They like to stretch the field vertically and get the ball over the top.”

Polk County battled turnovers in falling behind early at Chase, but put together two lengthy drives in the fourth quarter to rally past the Trojans. Ollis hopes that spirit will serve Polk County well on Friday.

“We had a challenge last week, and when the chips were down, our kids responded,” Ollis said. “We’re going to have to do the same this week.”

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