High school coaches preview the 2018 football season.
Head Coach Dave Svehla
Etowah will be losing several offensive starters this season, but returns some key players as well. Nick Maddox, the leading rusher in the county, returns, as well as two-year starting receiver Jackson Manns and offensive lineman Dominick D’Antonio, a Northwestern University commit. Porfirio Acosta also returns on the OL. Players such as Zach Meyers (OL, senior) and Jesse Sebring (OL, junior) will be counted on to step up this season. Our receivers will be young, but many of them have shown some athleticism that may help them get onto the field this fall.
Defensively, we return three starters up front, including two (Cole Milovanovic and Raymone Devezin) who played as sophomores last season. At defensive end, we return three-year starter Dalton Nicolai. Our biggest losses last season come at linebacker, where we will be looking for three new guys. Evan Arvanitis (senior) has had a great offseason and looks to take one of the positions. The other two are definitely up for grabs. At defensive back, we return starter Justin Sherrer, but look to replace three players. Athletes Ameer Salame and Tyler Freas will be fighting for the starting positions.
The schedule this season looks to be fun, but challenging. We open with county opponent River Ridge and follow with nonregion games with North Cobb, South Forsyth, Pebblebrook and Hillgrove. As always, our region really will be talented and will test us every week. Our kids have had an excellent offseason in the weight room, and it will be interesting to see which players are prepared to make the transition from freshman/junior varsity to Friday night football.
Head Coach Brent Budde
After back to back Sweet 16 playoff appearances, Woodstock is looking to make it back into the postseason again in 2018. To get this accomplished, some new players will have to step up and fill positions vacated by the 25 seniors who graduated off the 2017 team. We believe that we have the players who can fill these positions and make the plays needed for us to be successful.
On offense, we have averaged scoring more than 30 points a game for the last five seasons. With five starters back on offense, we will look to continue this success. Trevor Stephens, Andrew Andon and Jaylen Reid are returning on the offensive line from last year. Along with tight end Drew Sheehan and running back Ryan Martin, this should allow us to run the ball more to take off pressure from first-year starting quarterback Dean Braxton. When we do throw the ball, Braxton is very accurate and will be throwing to a good group of wide receivers. A couple of wide receivers really have stepped up this spring. Sebastian Moss, who started six games last year, returns. Radi Krastev, Wes Bruno and Jabari Overton all have had a great spring catching the ball. So, we look to continue our strong passing attack from years past.
On defense, we will replace nine starters off the 2017 team, which allowed the fewest points per game over the last five seasons. Again, we feel we have players who can step in and fill these positions. Hard-hitting safety Andrew Bartolero returns, along with corner Amin Davis. Joining them in the secondary will be a very talented sophomore, David Daniel. At linebacker, we have a couple of players in Campbell Price and Caleb Conley who saw lots of varsity playing time last year. Both have really stepped up their play in the spring. Travis Bailey and Holden Mumy will join them. These two have pursued the ball relentlessly this spring, and hit when they get to the ball. We were hit hardest by graduation up front on the defensive line. We are looking for Dillion Shackelford to lead a young group of defensive linemen this season. We also graduated our kicker, but Tyson Giles has been working hard this offseason and is a top-rated kicker for the state of Georgia as a sophomore. Top-ranked snapper Colby Cox will be snapping the ball to him, so the kicking game should continue to be strong.
Head Coach Josh Shaw
Looking to rebound from a tough 2017 season, the Warriors will lean on the experience of their defense as they break in a young quarterback to lead the offense. With five nonregion contests, the Warriors hope to be clicking on offense and defense as they head into their region schedule with the hopes of returning to the playoffs in 2018.
The coaching staff has made a strong emphasis on demanding more attention to detail and increasing their tempo at practice. The hope is to create a tougher atmosphere at practice so that Friday nights will seem easier for the players. While we want to be respectful of the rules of the game, and emulate good sportsmanship, our goal for the 2018 season is to be the toughest and most physical team in the region.
Tempo and toughness will be key factors in the success of the offensive unit. With the return of some experienced offensive linemen and running back Miles Garret (senior), the offense hopes to see that toughness pay off in the running game. In the passing game, juniors Landon Ergle and Carson Pickens will battle for the role of starting QB while freshman AJ Swann has shown potential as well. They will be looking to get the ball to senior Brandon Bostick and dynamic junior DJ Bynum in the passing game. Overall, the Warriors will look to force the tempo and get the ball into the hands of their playmakers.
Defensively, the Warriors did not have the season they wanted in 2017, but have worked extremely hard in the offseason to return the defense to the top of the region this season. The 2018 Warriors will continue to work to play fast and tough. Warrior defense keys to success: line up, adjust, tackle, create turnovers, and play fast. Defensive coordinator Davis Harvey will lean heavily on the seniors and returning starters to make the defense the best it can be.
The future appears to be extremely bright for the Warriors, but they must rely on several underclassmen to step up this year, if they are to return to the playoffs in 2018.
Head Coach Adam Carter
This was the first spring practice at Creekview in a few years. We were able to get in nine quality practices and an intrasquad scrimmage. I thought the kids responded very well to putting the pads on in May. We will lean heavily on a strong senior class. On offense, we will use our offensive line and senior RB Cade Radam to establish the run. This is by far the biggest offensive line I have had in my career. We have a good QB competition going on with junior Ethan Dirrim and sophomore Brody Rhodes. On defense, we will be led by senior safety Andy Davis and our defensive line. We have a few new players coming out for football for the first time since middle school who should impact our football team immediately. This summer will be very important for the progression of our football team. We will be involved in 7 vs. 7 tournaments at Kennesaw State, UGA and McEachern. We will host two padded camps at Creekview.
I also am excited about our rising ninth grade group. As a program, this spring, we have been able to increase our numbers to 110 9th-12th graders. We have been involved in a great fundraiser to bring in money for our program. Our booster club is gaining memberships every day. I am blessed with a staff that has found a way to make it through spring practice, driving from all over the metro area. It is an exciting time here at Creekview, I am very proud of what we have accomplished this spring and looking forward to the summer.
Head Coach James Teter
The Chiefs look to build on last season’s playoff appearance, their fifth in six seasons, with five starters back on offense and six returning on defense.
The Chiefs’ wing-T offense will have experienced ball handlers in quarterback Collier Pecht (1,117 yards passing in 2017) and running backs Cole Jacobs (889 yards from scrimmage, 11 touchdowns) and Jackson Smith (274 yards rushing), all returning. Others working to earn a spot in the backfield include senior Mason Webster, 5 feet-10, 160 pounds, wingback; senior DJ King, 6 feet-, 180 pounds; and senior D’Angelo Smith, 6 feet, 175 pounds, wingback.
The Chiefs will need to rebuild an offensive line that has two main returners in senior Alex Majeed, a 6 feet-4, 290 pounds, offensive tackle, who was an All-Region pick, as well as the Cherokee Gridiron Offensive Lineman of the Year for 2017, junior Wyatt Hampton, a 6 feet-2, 240 pounds offensive guard. Other players fighting for playing time on the offensive line will be senior Cole Stewart, 6 feet, 230 pounds, center; junior Nick Ballance 6 feet-1, 240 pounds, center; senior Spencer Clark, 6 feet, 280 pounds, tackle; junior Connor Johnston, 6 feet, 240 pounds, tackle; senior Matthew Meyer, 6 feet, 240 pounds, guard; and junior Spencer Smith, 6 feet, 230 pounds, guard.
At tight end and wide receiver, the Chiefs look to replace two three-year starters with the loss of Wesley Potter and Patrick Ballance. At tight end, they will look to junior Joshua Estrada, 6 feet-1, 180 pounds; senior Adam LaSelva, 6 feet-2, 215 pounds; senior Jordan Bowers 6 feet-1, 230 pounds and senior Shayne Smith, 5 feet-11, 220 pounds. Senior Emmanuel Jenkins, 6 feet-2, 196 pounds; junior Myles McGee, 6 feet-1, 175 pounds and junior Christian Hodgins will compete at wide receiver.
On defense, cornerback Emmanuel Jenkins (37 tackles, nine pass breakups) has more than 10 Division I offers. The defensive line will be a strength, with returning starters Spencer Clark, Connor Johnston and Jordan Bowers (six sacks). Others being looked at on the line will be seniors Cole Stewart, David Traynor and Alex Majeed. Linebacker is another strong area for the Chiefs, with returners senior Adam LaSelva, 6 feet-2, who was an All-Region player last season, and junior Grant Gibson, 6 feet-2, 220 pounds. Other players to keep an eye on at linebacker will be Jackson Smith, who also saw action last season, and junior Tray Bray, 5 feet-10, 165 pounds. In the secondary, the Chiefs will have the most spots to replace. With senior Emmanuel Jenkins, 6 feet-2, 196 pounds, who was also an All-Region player last season, as the only returner, the Chiefs will look at junior Myles McGee, 6 feet-1, 175 pounds; senior Mason Webster, 5 feet-10, 160 pounds and senior Cole Jacobs, 5 feet-10, 175 pounds.
The kicking game should be solid with returning punter Tyler Price and sophomore Jordan Campbell.
River Ridge Knights
Head Coach Tyler Winn
Spring practice is about getting down to the basics and making sure everyone is on the same page. We’ve got a group of hard-working upperclassmen who are helping to set the standards for the program. As we look toward the summer and the fall season, we are looking for leadership from some of our returning starters: Chico Ward (senior), Chase Tomlinson (senior) and Kofi Reeves-Miller (junior). We’re especially excited about the addition of new offensive coordinator Cecil Phillips, who joins the Knights after serving the past 10 years as the head coach of Amherst County High School in Virginia.