With 33 consecutive losses and winless records in five of their last seven seasons, the Spartans clearly have nowhere to go but up.
It is new coach Steve Horton’s job to guide North Springs upward as he begins his first season at the helm.
The first big challenge for the new coach is simply getting enough players to suit up on Friday night.
Depth is the biggest of the many concerns for the Spartans, who have only 32 players on their roster.
“Our numbers are incredibly small,” Horton said. “We’re struggling just to get kids out. We’ve got a good core group of kids who have been with us all summer and have been working real hard, but the program numbers overall are very thin. I feel like we have some athletes. I feel like the kids are working hard. I feel like we’ll be better than we have in the past. But our big thing right now is we’re trying to fill the team.”
It is that lack of depth that Horton said will make it tough for his team to prepare properly for games during the week.
“The difficulties we’re having [are] in practice,” he said. “We can’t afford to get anybody hurt. So we’re having to be very creative at practice to make sure that people are staying healthy and just being able to play on Friday night.”
However, Horton said he sees potential in the players that he does have. “We’ve got a good little quarterback that came off our baseball team — hasn’t played [football] in a while,” he said. “Our linebacking corps is all returning kids who right now are all doing a very good job. We’ve got three out of five offensive linemen that seem to be pretty physical.”
Horton is also encouraged by how his players have responded to him and his coaching staff.
“We’re going in a new direction, so a lot of the ways we do things are different,” he said. “The kids have really responded well to that. We’ve got new kids coming out all the time and going back to football. A lot of the kids have kind of wandered off and walked away from it and are starting to come back. The biggest thing we’re trying to do is remind the kids that football is fun. It’s a lot of fun to play the game of football.”
Senior outside linebackers Austin Elion and Tray Agnew, senior safeties Jaylen Holloman and Aaron Harper and senior tight end Anthony Stewart provide some veteran leadership, while junior quarterback Tyler Reid has also showed promise for the Spartans.
Getting the rebuilding process under way is the main concern for Horton as North Springs attempts to take a step forward in 2013.
“Right now, the toughest part for us is putting 25 healthy kids on the field on a Friday night,” Horton said. “So we’re really focused on us, on changing the outlook and direction of the kids in the process. We’ve got to get through our first three games and see how the cards fall and see what we have to do.”
Aug. 30 at McIntosh
Sept. 6 Hapeville
Sept. 13 at Riverwood
Sept. 27 Kell
Oct. 4 at Forsyth Central*
Oct. 11 Sequoyah*
Oct. 18 at Northview*
Oct. 25 Cambridge*
Nov. 1 at Creekview*
Nov. 8 region play-in game
*denotes region game