A seventh straight postseason berth looks likely for a Golden Bear squad that returns most of its key players in the skill positions — though are less experienced in other areas.
“I think we’re going to be young on the offensive line,” Holy Innocents’ coach Ryan Livezey said. “But all the guys in the backfield played last year, our quarterback is a returning starter, both our halfbacks are returning starters. We’ve got two guys who play fullback who played a tremendous amount last year. So I think it’s one of those things where we look good at one point and at other points, we don’t look so good. We’re still trying to bring together the guys who know what they’re doing and the guys who are still trying to learn things.”
The Golden Bears earned their latest trip to state with a 6-5 record — losing to Savannah Christian in the first round of the Class A private school playoffs.
Senior quarterback Luke Wright returns to lead the Holy Innocents’ offense, while the Golden Bears are also boosted by the return of senior running back Clay Pfohl.
Senior running back Owen Penn will also play a key role in the offense as will senior split end Jack Palmore.
The defense is anchored by a strong linebacker corps, with seniors Ben Asbury and William Morton, juniors Rod Davis and Dillon Armstrong and sophomore Martin Williams leading the way.
“Our linebackers should be the strength of our defense,” Livezey said. “Almost all of those guys are returning players.”
Palmore also is expected to play a big role in the secondary at free safety.
While Holy Innocents’ lacks size on its defensive side, Livezey said it has plenty of athleticism.
“We’re going to have to depend on our speed and our quickness, because we’re not going to overwhelm anybody with our size,” he said.
Sophomore Jay Rolander anchors the young and inexperienced offensive and defensive lines, while junior Walker Thomas handles the kicking duties.
Livezey said he is confident his Golden Bears have the potential to make a deep run in the Class A private school state playoffs.
“With our experience and the caliber of players we have, I feel like if we get some breaks along the way, we can be in the mix as the season goes on,” he said. “I was talking to our seniors and I said there’s no reason we shouldn’t be competitive in not only our region but in state.
“Obviously, there are things that come up that you can’t control. We’ve got to be able to overcome those when those do happen and if we are able to do that, we’re definitely able to be in the hunt at the end of the year.”
Aug. 23 Lakeside (DeKalb)
Aug. 30 at Wesleyan
Sept. 6 Riverwood
Sept. 13 at George Walton
Sept. 27 at Eagle’s Landing Christian*
Oct. 4 Mount Vernon (Riverwood)*
Oct. 11 at Our Lady of Mercy*
Oct. 18 Strong Rock Christian*
Oct. 25 at Pace*
Nov. 1 Landmark Christian*
*denotes region game