Starting in 2000, the Wildcats have had 13 consecutive non-losing seasons. Laney coach Lemuel Lackey has been in control for six of those years, with a second-round playoff appearance in 2011.
The team will be young in places, particularly at the skill positions of running back and wide receiver, but the Wildcats could be ready to take the next step after they lost by only one point to Screven County. The defeat cost Laney a region title and a No. 1 seed for the Class AA state playoffs.
“The biggest thing for us is to get the young kids’ feet wet,” Lackey said. “If the kids that we got in the skill positions grow a little bit, we won’t be bad. I think we’ll be better than last year.”
The strength is with the offensive line, where James Holmon, all 300-plus pounds of him, will battle. Senior Horatio Keller, who was a receiver, will be the starting quarterback. Lackey said Keller provides the experience and knowledge of the offense needed when there’s such a collection of young talent.
Sophomore Andre James, starting quarterback for part of 2012, and freshman Javin Myers, who is last year’s star running back George Myers’ brother, will be among those asked to pick up some yards despite their youth.
Also, with the line’s expected strength, Lackey said there are going to be holes for any runner to find.
After opening up with three non-region games where the freshmen and sophomores could gain important playing time, the Wildcats face Washington County to close the nonregion slate and then begin the region schedule two weeks later at Screven County.
By then, the hope is Marquis Miller and the defense are still stingy and the offense is rolling along.
“I think we’ll be pretty good this year,” Lackey said. “Once they get some confidence in them, the sky’s the limit.”