With Griffin High, where do you want to begin? Strong freshman and sophomore classes eventually crystallized by the middle of last season to help the Bears shake off a 3-2 start and overachieve by not only winning six of their last seven games but also extending the team’s school-record run of consecutive state playoff appearances to 11 seasons in addition to helping the team reach the second round of the state playoffs for a school-record fourth year in a row.
All those guys are back as is the dean of area coaches, Steve DeVoursney — entering his 12th season at the helm — to lead the Bears. While the Bears don’t figure to be as staunch on defense as they have been in the past, the team will have a high-flying offense that will gladly wear the badge of gunslinger.
Across town at Spalding High, head coach Nick Davis is back for his second season. Chalk up last season’s 2-8 record to the team learning his system.
The team will hit the ground running this season as it moves up from Class AAA to Class AAAA. A running offense will aid their cause. And with Davis — a stud on defense during his play days at Griffin High and Georgia Southern — taking over as the defensive coordinator, things will get drastically better for the Jags.
At Griffin Christian, the Crusaders have no place to go but up after last year’s 0-10 campaign. And there are four main reasons things are looking much better. For openers, head coach Bobby Brogdon is back to guide the Crusaders for the second year in a row. Another factor bound to help is the return of strength and conditioning coach Randy Wilson, who will take over as the team’s defensive coordinator. Stuart Gottlieb, who was briefly the head football coach at Faith Christian Academy and Skipstone Academy, will further aid the team’s cause by taking over as offensive coordinator.
Furthermore moving from Georgia Independent Schools Association (GISA) Class AAA to Independent Christian Schools of Georgia and Alabama Athletic Association (ICSGA) 11-man football should also help put the Crusaders back in position to get back to the program’s winning ways where the team made the GISA state playoffs in 2009 and 2011.
At Faith Christian Academy there are three reasons the Lions will bounce back from last year’s 2-7 record and get back to the ICSGA 8-man league playoffs after qualifying for the finals in 2010. They revolve around: coaching stability, tradition and the return of an old coach.
Back to lead the Lions is second-year head coach Teron Jones. The Lions are shooting to make the playoffs for the third time in four years after having posted records of 7-4 in 2009, and 5-6 in 2010. Toward that end the return of head coach Jim McClelland Jr., who coached the team during its inaugural season in 2008 to a 5-4 record in addition to the aforementioned 7-4 record in 2009, returns.
While McClelland will not serve as the head coach, his experience can’t do anything but help a program that figures to spring back from last year’s 2-7 record with vigor.
At Skipstone Academy, the Warriors, 7-3 last season, are poised to jump back into league play for the first time since their inaugural season in 2009 when they went 0-8 playing ICSGA 8-man football. However, this time around three things bode well in their favor: coaching stability, experience and league play.
Back to lead the charge for the Warriors is second-year head coach Dan Salvador. The team’s recent history, which includes records of 3-7 in 2010 and the aforementioned 7-3 record last season, proves they have learned to win since their initial 0-8 campaign. The icing on the cake is their move to the Glory For Christ League where they have something to play for (a league title) in 2012. With all the excitement, expect them to be right in the thick of things.
(John Sullivan is the sports editor at the Griffin Daily News.)