The Grovetown Warriors were essentially a game away from the state playoffs a year ago and now their sights are set on taking that final step.
“The biggest thing is week-to-week you’ve got to be focused and you’ve got to win those games,” coach Rodney Holder said. “Those two or three games we left out there that we had opportunities to win, you’ve got to win and if you win them you’re a playoff team.”
The Warriors have to replace their top statistical leaders from a year ago. Quarterback Juwan Biggers had a senior season in which he threw for 666 yards and nine touchdowns, ran for 878 yards and nine touchdowns, ran two kickoffs back for scores and had an interception return for a touchdown.
Stepping up to guide the offense is sophomore Justin Dears.
“Justin is a run guy, but he’s a better thrower than Juwan (Biggers),” Holder said. “He’s not as gifted a runner right now, but he’s just a sophomore. We feel like by the end of the year when he gets a few varsity games under his belt, that he can mature and do some good things for us.”
Holder likes the pieces he has left.
“We lost some good skill guys, but we return all of our linemen,” said Holder, rattling off the names of senior tight end Donovan Davis, senior center Robert Feliciano, senior Conrad Simpson, junior Jaylen Malone and new addition junior RJ Mitchell.
Holder hired Damien Postell to work with the defensive backs and believes that will pay off.
“You’ve got to be able to stop the run, but you’ve also got to be able to stop the pass,” Holder said. “I feel like our secondary is going to be a whole lot better.”
A year after Davis recorded 12 tackles-for-loss, he thinks the work the team has put in will show up on the field in 2013.
“We made a push in the off-season to really work and grind and no days off this year,” Davis said. “We have much more energy, we’re much more alive. More players are out there trying to get it.”