Josey’s motivation is clear entering coach Raleigh Roundtree’s fifth season.
The Eagles fell just shy of a second consecutive playoff berth last year when Glenn Hills beat them in a tiebreaker for Region 4-AA’s fourth seed. It would’ve marked their first back-to-back playoff appearances since 1998-99.
Roundtree has clearly turned the program around after an 0-10 season in his first year in 2013, including posting a winning record two years ago for the first time since 1999. Now, the goal is to move upward and make the playoffs an annual accomplishment.
“When you say Josey, you don’t think playoffs,” Roundtree said. “We went to the playoffs in 2015, one game away last year. They say it’s attainable. With that being said, the confidence is there so we know it can be done.”
Josey’s coaches and players enter the 2017 season with the confidence of a playoff team. With a talented set of skilled players returning, including a battle-tested quarterback, the Eagles understandably believe a berth is possible.
Junior Dakale Fluellen enters his second year as the starting quarterback after producing more than 1,000 passing yards and contributing on the ground as a sophomore starter last season. Roundtree said Fluellen got by on his athleticism while learning the offense last year, but he now sees the talented junior as an extension of the coach on the field.
“We fell short last year, so this year our main motivation is to get there first,” Fluellen said. “Taking it one step at a time, beat this team, beat that team, just get in there first. We have to work a lot. We have to be as a team, not individuals. We need to try to get better every day.”
Senior receiver Myron Godbee and linebacker Naquan Foreman are other notable players expected to lead. Godbee is a do-everything athlete capable of making plays in space between the quarterback and receiver positions. Roundtree said Foreman, who led the team in tackles last season and had 10 for loss, is capable of taking over a game on defense.
After another week of preparation, Josey will open Aug. 25 at Groves before three consecutive home games against Greenbrier, Richmond Academy and Westside. A crucial region matchup at Glenn Hills awaits Sept. 22 before a tough end to the slate with Screven County, Jefferson County and Laney in consecutive weeks.
Beyond Screven County and Jefferson County, Region 4-AA’s last two playoff spots are for the taking. If Josey’s players have their way, they’ll grab a playoff spot and look to make school history by winning their first postseason game in nearly two decades.
“The numbers increased once school started,” Roundtree said. “We got a lot of veteran guys returning, so I think we’re going to do good this year. I think our confidence is pretty good. We’re returning our quarterback and receivers, so we should be good to go.”
Reach David Lee at (706) 823-3216 or firstname.lastname@example.org.