But not everything is unfamiliar for the Cougars’ program. First-year head coach David Rosenzweig, who replaced Andre Taylor, served as the team’s offensive coordinator under then-coach Jim Falcetti in 2011, when Holy Spirit Prep went 9-0 and won the Glory For Christ League title. This year’s seniors were freshmen on that squad.
The Cougars went 4-5 and 1-9 in 2012 and 2013, respectively. Rosenzweig, also the school’s upper school assistant principal of student leadership, took the last two seasons off from coaching football before being asked to take the reins this year.
“[The team’s strengths] are unique when you’re a school like ours, the brotherhood and the mentality that we’re approaching the season with,” he said. “Seniors who were freshmen on our title team can help us rebuild and get us back [to winning.]”
Depth and size remain a concern at Holy Spirit Prep, a private Catholic school with only about 240 students in grades seven through 12.
“We’ve only got about 20 guys, so it’s going to be an ironman football team,” Rosenzweig said. “We’re calling it HSP 2.0 football, where it’s definitely a year of rebuilding and getting the football team going.”
The coach said he will be replacing at least five starters each on offense and defense, including kicker/wide receiver/defensive back Luke Whelan, who graduated and is now playing soccer at Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina.
This year’s team is led by three returning starters — senior left guard/middle linebacker Drew Vincent, senior running back/outside linebacker Kyle Winkler and junior running back/cornerback Conner Whelan, Luke’s brother.
Rosenzweig said he expects junior center/middle linebacker Patrick Daly and junior running back/outside linebacker Derrick Gomez, who played for the Cougars previously but not last year, to make an impact this fall.
The coach said the school’s move from the Glory for Christ League to the Georgia Independent Schools Association’s Class AAA and Region 1 is a major concern of his.
“I don’t know if there’s been a challenge yet, but it’s knowing we’re going to play teams triple our size with twice the coaches in programs that have been around for decades,” Rosenzweig said. “We’re the small man on the ladder, the underdog, but we’re going to own that role and accomplish what we can.”
Aug. 22 North Georgia+
Aug. 29 at Windsor Academy
Sept. 5 Monsignor Donovan^
Sept. 12 at Loganville Christian*
Sept. 19 Bethleham Christian*^
Sept. 26 Griffin Christian*^
Oct. 3 at Trinity Christian*
Oct. 17 Heritage*^
Oct. 24 at Young American*
Oct. 31 at Dominion Christian*
*denotes region game
+at Morgan Falls Overlook Park (all other home games at North Springs)