But to get there, his team must first navigate through the rough slate.
The fun starts Friday when the Warriors begin their season at home against Fitzgerald, which went 11-2 in 2011. And then there’s the likes of Baldwin and Wesleyan — all before region play begins.
“It’s almost like being in the playoffs every week,” Arnold said. “We got to be careful week to week. We got to stay healthy.”
The Warriors should be a tough out despite the schedule, especially with their defense.
Though lacking in size, Jefferson County’s defense is quick. A year ago, the unit sparked the team’s seven-game winning streak after a 1-3 start. The Warriors gave up only 10.4 points per game during that stretch.
“We fly around and we like to hit people,” linebacker Damien Farmer said. “We’re relentless for 48 minutes.”
Offensively, the challenge is to replace running back Dontavious Kitchens, who rushed for more than 1,000 yards as a junior and a senior. But Arnold expects Cartabius Quarterman to contribute with his home-run potential.
Arnold thinks his team will be OK either on the ground or through the air, which will be necessary as Thomson and Washington County await in region play.
“It is a pretty tough region, but I think we can overcome that,” senior running back/linebacker Nigel Mathis said.
Jefferson County’s new region comes after reclassification, when the Georgia High School Association added a sixth class.
Jefferson County is near the bottom when it comes to school size in Class AAA. But there are more than 100 involved with the program, so Farmer is ready to go head-to-head for a region crown.
“We’re excited about playing bigger teams. We’re happy about moving up,” Farmer said. “We want to hit bigger teams.”