The Grovetown Warriors enter their fourth year as a program in 2012, moving up in class to join Lakeside, Greenbrier and Evans.
To the team it’s no big deal. With the exception of 2009, the first year of the program, Grovetown has played Evans and Greenbrier each year.
The Warriors lost to Greenbrier and Evans in 2010, but returned the favor last year while going 6-4.
“Last year we played Greenbrier, Evans, Harlem, and now we get to play Lakeside and we’re excited about playing them since we’ve never played them before,” said senior running back Jamal Cummings. “It’s going to be a good competition.”
Head coach Rodney Holder said he expects a lot of speed, strength and maturity from his squad.
“Those are things that come along with having some kids now that are four years into the program,” said Holder. “I think the maturity being the big key. We’ve finally got some older kids that have been with us and doing what we need them to do.”
One of those players is Cummings (5-foot-9, 195 pounds), who rushed for more than 1,200 yards and scored 13 touchdowns in 2011. Overall, Holder likes his offensive makeup.
“We feel like we’ve got about 18 kids right now that we can put in and play offense and compete on the varsity level,” he said. “That’s a good feeling, and likewise on defense.”
Holder said seniors Hunter Pearce and Juwan Biggers are in competition to quarterback his Wing-T offense and that they have a good group of backs, wide receivers and interior linemen.
Senior Bryce Clary (6-foot-1, 335 pounds) is one of those linemen is confident entering the season.
Defensively, the team has to replace a middle linebacker along with All-County First-Team defensive lineman Damon Stinger.
“If we can get those guys replaced and the young guys can grow up and become varsity football players, we’ll have a good team,” Holder said.
Special teams should be another strong point for the Warriors, with the core group, including kicker Corey Stone, returning.
“Again there, we’ve got our snapper back, we’ve got all our holders, we’ve got all our specialists back,” Holder said. “Those guys are a big weapon, a third of the game.”
Holder thinks making it to the playoffs is achievable, but that it won’t come easy.
“We’re going to have to bang heads and somebody is going to have to survive it,” Holder said. “Whoever survives it makes the state playoffs based on whatever we do in the rest of the region. That’s why we chose our schedule. We wanted to challenge the kids, but we knew we also had to be battle-tested and tough by the time we got to those games. Knowing how good Lakeside and Greenbrier and Evans and those guys are going to be, we’ve got to be ready.”