Tyner’s expectations remain high as reigning state champ despite changes

Staff photo by Olivia Ross / Tyner football coach Christian Mainor, who was promoted in the offseason after serving as offensive coordinator last year when the Rams won a state championship, talks to his players during a May practice.


Head coach: Christian Mainor (first year here and overall)

Returning starters: 3 offensive; 3 defensive

Last year's record: 14-1, won TSSAA Class 2A championship

Key players: Jamarie Ballard (5-10, 185) Sr. QB, Sharkem Wells (5-10, 210) Sr. RB, Landis Ratliff (6-2, 200) Jr. WR, Monteast Moore (6-0, 260) Jr. OL/DL, Davins Pasley (6-0, 275) Jr. OL, Chazz Craig (5-11, 190) Jr. LB, Isaiah Sawyer (6-2, 160) Jr. WR, Jaeden Isbell (6-2, 215) Jr. TE/DE.

Season outlook: Since winning their first state title in 25 years last December, the Rams have experienced a number of changes within the program, beginning at the top with Mainor — last year's offensive coordinator — taking over.

Under his guidance, Tyner set numerous program records on offense, produced a Tennessee Titans Mr. Football award winner in quarterback Josh Jackson and averaged 38 points per game.

Tyner graduated 18 players with starting experience, including seven who earned all-state recognition. Although there is some experience returning up front — three offensive linemen and three on the defensive front with starting experience — the Rams will have an entirely new group of skill position players. That includes Craig, Isbell and Wells, all versatile enough to play several roles.

Ballard will bring a different style at quarterback, using his legs more than Jackson, and will have a rangy group of receivers as every starter is at least 6-foot-2.

"We will move the pocket more with Jamarie because that's what fits his style," said Mainor, who will continue calling the plays on offense. "He's very accurate throwing on the run and is a physical runner when he decides to tuck the ball and go.

"Sharkem is another tough runner, and Sawyer is the guy with the speed to score on any snap. I'm excited because we have some young skill kids who have waited their turn and are hungry to prove themselves.

"We've made a lot of jumps in the weight room, and these kids do not want to be the team that's not considered as physical as Tyner is known for being."

Because the school's new facilities are still under construction, Tyner won't have any home games this season. Another challenge will be matching last year's defensive unit, which allowed an average of just eight points per game, including seven shutouts. Only four of the Rams' 15 opponents managed to score in double figures.

"We'll be young and inexperienced," Mainor said, "but with the level of talent we have, people better get us early in the season, because we will be a much better team by the second half of the season."

Contact Stephen Hargis at [email protected].