ALCOA, Tenn. (WATE) — The Alcoa Tornadoes lost five players on offense and defense heading into 2023, but in Alcoa, the teams just reload.

“That’s part of being at Alcoa is now someone else has to step in,” said Alcoa head coach Brian Nix. “We always say with these guys ‘Some of you guys have been standing over on the sideline and people have been winning championships for you. Now, it’s your time to contribute. It’s your time to be a part of it.’ I think we have enough competition here with the positions that these young kids, they wanna play. They wanna be on the field. There have been sophomores and juniors who have worked one or two years here and they’re ready to reap some of the rewards for their work.”

The Tornadoes will need some new faces to take the next step and reap the rewards. Quarterback Zach Lunsford and wide receiver/running back/defensive back Jordan Harris both graduated.

“I’d like to have him back, I can tell you that,” said Nix when asked about Harris.

“He had everything with him,” added Alcoa senior Brayden Cornett. “He’s like a Swiss army knife.”

Fortunately for the Tornadoes, running back and linebacker Elijah Cannon returns with plenty of experience.

“Kind of help the younger guys at my position and really whoever needs help and kind of bring them up like the seniors did when I was a freshman,” said Cannon.

“Elijah Cannon seems like he’s been here forever,” said Nix. “Elijah Cannon is about to start his 46th football game for us, which is unbelievable going into his senior year.”

That game will be on the road against Ravenwood on Aug. 18 at 7 p.m. when the Tornadoes start their path toward winning their ninth straight state title.