WAYNESBORO, Ga. -- The slate has almost been wiped clean from last year's Burke County team.
A new coach, five new assistant coaches, a new quarterback and almost an entirely new offensive line highlight the 1999 edition of the Burke County Bears.
For the first time in three years, Mike Falleur won't roam the sidelines as the Bears' head coach, and for the first time in two years, Burke fans won't be able to watch Charles Jones at quarterback.
Falleur took the head coaching position at Elbert County High School, while Jones heads to Alabama this season.
Only eight starters, including two seniors, return from last year's 6-4 squad, leaving new coach Nick Davis with a group of talented underclassmen.
"We're going to be very young up front (on offense)," Davis said. "We're probably going to start one senior, two juniors and three sophomores, but we're going to have good size up there. It will be the first time since 1997 that we've had any kind of size up front."
Junior Richard Stephens, the only returner on the offensive line who saw playing time last season, will be at center.
A youthful offensive line may not be good for junior Dominique Brown, who will get the nod at quarterback after two years of playing behind Jones.
The outlook is better on defense where seven players who saw action last year return. Tackles Tommie Terrell and Calvin Harriss anchor the defensive front. Juniors Thomas Wright and Reggie Lakes return at linebacker, while Cedric Bonner is back at cornerback and Brown returns at free safety.
"It's going to be tough this first season," said Davis, promoted to head coach after being Burke's defensive coordinator. "I always tell my wife that everybody in the state is going to be looking in the papers on Saturday morning to see how Burke County did, not because of me, but because it's Burke County.
"At 27, I might be the youngest coach in the state of Georgia. I like it when people tell me I can't do something because I always like to turn around and prove them wrong."
One thing this Bears team will have is speed, as starters Brown and Franklin Lewis were members of Burke County's state championship track team.
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