Special teams has played a significant role in the Chargers’ success in football, particularly in the past three seasons. They have scored points in clutch and not clutch situations, drastically changed the field position for the opposing team by punting, caught opponents off guard with tricks, or just completely changed the momentum of a game.
In 2013, the year the Chargers made it to their second ever state championship game, their special teams unit consisting of Cody Mills, Chadwick Lamar, Connell Yoste, and Liam Cooper formed a tight bond with each other on the field and off the field. Their ability to change the game on special teams bore an idea to title themselves with the name “Bomb Squad.”
Three seasons later, their successors have continued the Bomb Squad legacy that was left by the 2013 squad. They too have been successful this year, despite former head coach and special teams mastermind Johnny Hill retiring after 22 years at the helm of the Chargers.
Special teams has been an overlooked quality by opponents under Hill. He would always keep his opponents on their toes, stealing possessions with surprise onside kicks often while occasionally faking field goals and PATs. His successor, Chris Cutcliffe picked up where Hill left off, keeping opponents guessing on special teams the way Hill did. Special teams in general without fakes have been heavily emphasized in practice under Cutcliffe’s reign.
“Last year we had Coach Hill who taught us the basics. Now we have Coach Cutcliffe out there showing us what we really needed to do,” kicker Gray Jenkins said.
The 2016 edition consists of senior Giles Lamar, junior Gray Jenkins, sophomore Whitman Rowland, and freshman Max Mobley. All four of them have a special bond on the field and off the field.
“We have really, even just as players without coaches, have made this part of them team grow on our own, we did that for ourselves and that is just what it takes to be the best,” Mobley said.
“There is no bomb squad like us because we have fun with what we do,” Giles said. “You can ask anyone on the team. If we aren’t doing something to get better, we are having fun with what we’re doing, whether it is at practice or at the game. We are always focused.”
“We are really close, it makes us the Bomb Squad,” Jenkins said.
Giles, a long snapper, has racked up multiple All-Region honors and earned an All-State honor in his high school career. His older brother, Chadwick, long snapped from 2011-2013 for the Chargers and went on to long snap for Hugh Freeze and the Ole Miss Rebels. Giles has played a vital role with accurately and swiftly snapping the football to the punter or the holder on PATs and field goals.
“It is a role that a bunch of teams, especially in Mississippi, our division and in smaller football, they take it for granted,” Giles said.
“Even if it is not the biggest role, it is one of the most important on the field because Coach Cutcliffe always says that you can have a drive on offense that is 15 plays, but every time you go out on special teams, that is one whole drive in one play,” Rowland said.
Giles will make sure he does everything he can to ensure that his current backup, Rowland, will have a similar football career to him in the near and hopefully bright future.
“When Whitman got moved up (to varsity), I saw him as me,” Giles said. “I want to get him ready so when I leave, I wanted him to be able to have the same opportunities I had.”
Jenkins is a first year starter at kicker. So far this season, Jenkins has made 29 of his 35 PATs and has made two of three field goal attempts with a long of 38 yards. Jenkins also kicks off for the Chargers and has attempted numerous onside kicks this season and, most of those attempts, the Chargers recovered. Onside kicks have been a commonly used accessory used by the Chargers to keep opponents on their toes as to whether or not the Chargers are trying to steal a possession or not.
“It is more than a kicking game, it is a mind game,” Mobley said.
Jenkins’ backup, Mobley, has made two of four PATs this season and has not attempted a field goal this season.
Due to Cooper’s graduation in 2016, a vacancy was left at punter. With the inexperience and lack of consistency between Jenkins and Mobley punting the ball, Cutcliffe tabbed wide receiver Preston Perkins to handle the punting duties. Perkins’ longest punt this season is 55 yards.
“Preston is just a good athlete. You can ask him to do anything and he is going to do it,” Giles said.
The Bomb Squad, along with the rest of their team, will look to continue their success as they take on the West Point Green Wave in the second round of the MHSAA Class 5A Playoffs.