Since those humbling beginnings, the Indians’ program has experienced growth through unique ideas such as offensive cadences spoken in Spanish, catering to the diverse demographic of the students at Cross Keys, who hail from 45 different countries and speak 65 separate languages. The Indians struggled on the field last year, posting a winless record. “Last season was tough but the players got experience because many of them were freshman and sophomores,” said Radford, who enters his fourth season as the head coach. “We had to play inexperienced kids because of our roster size.”
Returning on offense will be senior quarterback Oluwatomi Adedayo, who is a second-year starter and led the team in rushing yards last season with 491. “Tomi (Adedayo) actually began last season as a free safety and wide receiver but started the last few games at quarterback due to injuries,” said Radford. “He handled the adjustment and has had a great summer at passing leagues and understands our offense.”
The offensive line returns each of its starters from last season. “We’ve been able to do more this offseason with our offensive line such as more pulls, traps and improved pass protection,” said Radford. “Last season, we had guys who had never played before and now we’re able to execute better and open up the playbook.” The main offensive threat on the outside will be junior Sam McDade, who was the team’s top receiver in 2011 but didn’t play last season.
Senior defensive back Patrick Huff led the team in tackles last season with 95, which was in the top 10 for DeKalb County. For his efforts, Huff was named to the All-Region team. “Huff has been a bright spot four our team,” stated Radford. “This is his third year with the program and he really knows how to play football.”
The top linebackers for Cross Keys will be seniors Samuel Kiawu and Dominique Wilson, who each had more than 30 tackles last season. The defensive line will be in rebuilding mode with contributions made by many underclassmen.
The Indians open their schedule at home against Best Academy on Aug. 30. The rest of the home slate includes Pinecrest Academy, North Cobb Christian and St. Francis. Cross Keys will travel to Hebron Christian, Lakeview Academy, Mt. Zion-Jonesboro, Clarkston and Hapeville Charter in the 2013 season.
“We’ve had some players on the varsity squad since the ninth grade and facing top teams such as Buford, Greater Atlanta Christian, Westminster and Blessed Trinity,” said Radford. “The players that have stuck with the program have gained experience and built confidence.
“This is the first year since I’ve been here that I can put 11 guys on the field and have the belief that they know what they’re doing.”