Off the field, WCHS Senior Eli Cantrell is a soft-spoken high school student. He’s not the type of soccer player who shows a lot of emotion. Eli Cantrell lets his performance speak for itself. He made a lot of noise in football last week against Cookeville and helped his team crank up the attack.
He lives an idyllic small town life for a young child. He drives a four-wheeler, plays Madden and 2NBAK22. His favorite teacher is Regina Matheney, and she describes him perfectly.
Regina Matheney said: âEli is an All-American boy! He learns hard and so does he
play hard. Eli gives everything in his class and on the soccer field. He’s a nice, funny young man. I was fortunate to have him for both English II and English III honors. He was also in my counseling class. “
Eli played baseball, basketball, and football as a child. Baseball was the first sport he learned, and he began playing t-ball in the town’s fields. He credits his parents for encouraging him to exercise. Eli said, âMy mother and father always wanted me to do sports. You haven’t pressured me. I started playing soccer when I was 6 years old. I also played baseball and basketball, but football was the most fun of the three. “
Football is a tough sport and not for everyone. Believe it or not, Eli started out as a quarterback in eighth grade. In the ninth grade, Eli switched to running back. He says he wants to be a force that runs back from the Titans like Derrick Henry.
Eli said, âI liked running the ball, hitting people, attacking people. You’re either the hammer or the nail, as Coach (Matt Turner) says. âInjuries are often a side effect of playing football, and Eli has his share.
He has suffered two concussions and one terrible injury. He suffered his first concussion in eighth grade in the first game of the season. Eli’s second concussion was during his sophomore year.
Last year in Coffee County, he was hit and unable to move his legs. Eli had some difficulty walking when he got up from the blow. He remembers that his back was sore. Fortunately, he is in no pain from this insane injury and is now pain free.
His head coach Matt Turner describes how Eli helped the Pioneers against Cookeville over the past week. Turner said, âEli rose big tonight. Mt. Juliet wasn’t a traffic jam game. Tonight he told me on the sidelines that he wanted to run the ball. So we fed it to him. We started the game with him, who helped us march down the field. I think we have a good combination with Eli and Braylon Grayson and Jaythan Pleasant on the wings. Eli gave us everything he had tonight, and he always does. “
History is Eli’s favorite subject. He said he enjoyed learning about the Civil War, World War II and the like. He is currently attending Honors English, Choir, PE 3, Contemporary Issues and Bridge Math Sails. He brings his own lunch to school and usually does it himself. Occasionally he can ask his mother to make the sandwich in the evening and Eli will spread the mustard and other items on it in the morning.
After this year, his ambition is to go to MTSU. Eli wants to become an athletic trainer or have something to do with sports. Whatever he does, Eli will be a good role model for young athletes.
His parents are Donhua and Stan Cantrell. Eli credits his coaches and teachers for being a good influence on him, but he says his mother was his biggest influence. Eli said, âThe person who had the most impact on me was my mother. Whenever I had problems with football or needed help, she would help me, tell me what to do. Anytime you’re at a soccer game and hear screams, it’s most likely my mom. If you are not deaf, you will hear them. She’ll scream “Go Eli” and she’ll have a cowbell and ring it. “
Eli shared what he thinks is a big change in his life. He said, âI had a pretty good childhood, my parents are still together. My sister is 9 years and 9 months older than me. She moved out when she was 18. My sister and I never really argued or argued. Wasn’t a love-hate relationship. I didn’t see her that often when she moved out. When my parents went traveling, it was just me and them. Her name is Shawna. She has been married for five years. She comes to most of my games when she can. “
Eli and his parents live in a family neighborhood between Dibrell and Rock Island with relatives around the corner. His family has cows and a pond for fishing. There’s plenty of room for four-wheel trails.
Eli Cantrell was quarantined twice last year but never missed any games. He tested positive the Monday after the scheduled DeKalb County game in August. Eli described what it was like to have COVID: âIt felt like I had really bad allergies. I had a fever. Never lost my taste or smell. After the first three days I was back to normal except for a little cough and a runny nose. The first day I had a headache and that was it. I think I’m pretty much where I was. When we came back from the 10 days off for the first time, I could tell that I had a little problem with my lungs. “
Eli continued, âIt was tough going both ways against Mount Julia. I like to play both ways, but in the third quarter I realized I was running out of energy. I just stuck with it and made it through. “
This is Eli Cantrell. He does not give up. He Is hard. He has come back from injuries and COVID. He plays every position his coaches ask of him. His teachers are happy to have him in class. He’s the all-American kid who has fun with his friends and family in a small town.