WAYNESBORO, Ga. — Burke County football coach Eric Parker doesn’t have time to think about the wins, the rings and the championship.
That was all for the 2011 team — the first in school history to win a state title. It’s about the 2012 edition now, a team that returns some familiar names but also needs others to take on larger roles.
It’s also a team Parker hopes still has the desire.
“We’re going to have to develop that hunger,” Parker said. “I thought last year, our kids had that hunger. I thought we had an attitude. This team has the ability to become a really good football team, but we’re going to have to have something we can chase. We got to get angry somewhere along the line.”
The 2011 team was on a mission ever since a humbling 49-15 loss to Carrollton in the Class AAA state semifinals the previous season. It ended up fulfilling all its goals, winning a region title, getting a 35-point win in the semifinals and, finally, earning a victory against Peach County in the state Class AAA championship game.
Donquell Green shared quarterback duties with starter Corey Mayton a year ago, and both rushed for more than 1,000 yards. But Mayton has graduated, meaning Green becomes, as he sees it, “The Guy.”
Green, along with running back Reginald Grubbs and receiver Jermaine Baxley, is part of what should be a powerful offense.
“He needs to play his game, which is pretty doggone good when he’s on,” Parker said about Green. “He just has to do that consistently. He has done that in the past, so I don’t have any reason to think that he won’t.”
Because the offense scored 666 points in 2011 — the third-best single-season total in state history — the defense didn’t get as much attention. But after Montres Kitchens made key interceptions and the line dominated throughout the season, the Bears held Gainesville to about two touchdowns below its season average in the semifinal. Then, against Peach County, Burke County allowed only 17 second-half yards in the 28-14 win.
While the Bears may lack depth and game experience in the secondary this season, senior linebacker Chris Washington is back as the team moves up to Class AAAA after reclassification added a sixth class.
But the goals remain lofty for Green and his teammates, even with all the changes.
“We want to repeat,” Green said. “That’s the biggest thing. Just to feel that again, being in the Dome.”