Numbers are up but some talented players are gone as the Eagles head to a new region in a smaller class.
Then there’s the coaching staff: This will be John Noah’s final season as head coach. Raleigh Roundtree, who’s been an assistant, will take over, with his responsibilities expected to grow as the season goes by. Noah will focus on the defense, Roundtree the offense.
“He’s from right across the street, so he knows it. I think he’s the man, so he’s going to be the man,” Noah said about Roundtree. “It’s time for somebody young to see if he can get them to take that step that they have to take.”
A 1993 Josey graduate, the 36-year-old Roundtree starred at South Carolina State and later played in the NFL, including five seasons with the San Diego Chargers.
All this news – particularly the move from Class AAA to Class AA – has the Eagles thinking positively as they try to get their first winning season since 1999. In 2011, Josey won its final two games of the year to finish 3-7.
Though Josey has a new starting quarterback this season, eight starters return on the defense, which is a big reason for the optimism. Quantavius Cheatham, listed as 6-foot-4 and 278 pounds, will be a key fixture on the line.
“We got to showcase our dominance every game on the line of scrimmage,” Cheatham said. “We got to move the offensive linemen off the ball every play. We have to establish our dominance every game.”
Both Noah and Roundtree say Josey’s improvement will come with dedication and perseverance through tough times.
The coaches think this team is capable of doing that and winning more than losing as it battles Dublin, East Laurens, Harlem, Laney, Screven County and Westside in Region 3-AA.
“We actually want to get into the playoffs,” Noah said. “That’s something we can accomplish. With the small region, you’re not talking about going 10-0. We’d like to have a winning season – we haven’t had one of those since 1999. These are all accomplishable goals.”