“I feel really good about the team,” third-year coach Doug Britten said. “A lot of these returning guys have been very committed in the offseason to working out and getting better. I feel the overall attitude of the team is better.”
The Warriors return only five starters on offense and four on defense, losing linebacker/running back Justin Young, offensive lineman/defensive lineman D’Angelo Bowen, offensive lineman/linebacker Chris Ezzard and running back/linebacker Oladi Falade to graduation.
But several key players return, including five seniors — tight end/outside linebacker Vando Davis, offensive linemen/defensive linemen Deontae Flood, Quentin Florentina and Dominique Jenkins and running back/linebacker Spencer Shelton — and five juniors — running back/defensive back Wyatt Hughes, offensive linemen/defensive linemen Joel Maldonado and Robert Wooten, wide receiver/defensive back Julius Washington and running back/linebacker K.D. Welch.
Britten said his team’s strengths are its offensive and defensive lines and its weakness is its lack of depth.
“We have a really good core of 18 to 20 kids,” he said. “After that we’ll have to rely on some young kids, possibly freshmen, to help build some depth.”
The Warriors struggled last year while playing in Region 6AAAAA, which included several perennial powers.
“We’re coming out of probably the toughest [Class] AAAAA region in the state with Tucker, Stephenson, MLK, Southwest DeKalb, teams like that,” he said.
But this fall the team is moving to Region 7AAAAA, which includes only four teams — Creekview, Kell, Riverwood and Sequoyah — that advanced to the Class AAAAA playoffs in 2013. A less rugged schedule is giving North Atlanta a glimmer of hope it can reach the state playoffs for the first time since 1996, its main goal for the season.
“The best way to look at it is our JV [team] went 6-1 last year and they played five of the teams that are in our region this year,” Britten said. “I feel like our kids are going to have a little more confidence and play some teams they are a little more familiar with. … Because we played so many teams on the lower level, our kids feel like they have a better opportunity to compete against some of those teams.”
Aug. 29 at KIPP Atlanta^
Sept. 5 River Ridge*
Sept. 12 at Dalton
Sept. 19 at Riverwood*
Sept. 26 Sprayberry*
Oct. 3 at Cambridge*
Oct. 10 at Forsyth Cent.
Oct. 24 Kell*
Oct. 31 North Springs*
Nov. 7 play-in game
*denotes region game
^game at Tri-Cities High
All home games at Grady Stadium