Originally created 08/25/06

Season Preview: Harlem



Head coach: Jimmie Lewis (14th year)

Classification: GHSA Region 3B-AAA

2005 record: 6-4

Four-year record (since 2002): 16-24

Last playoff appearance: 2001

Returning starters: 6 offense, 4 defense

Key Bulldogs: Senior RB/LB Barry St. John (5-9, 192); Senior RB/LB Maurice Dorsey (6-2, 218); Senior QB Brendan Gray (5-8, 178); Senior OL/DL Matt Pitchford (6-0, 283); Senior OL/DL A.J. Ortiz (5-10, 260); Senior NG Shelley Johnson (6-4, 302); Junior TE/LB Mike Leverett (6-0, 200)

Offensive attack: Gray and St. John combined for 17 rushing touchdowns and more than 1,400 yards last season, out of the team's I formation. Gray has room to improve in the passing game after completing only 14 of 48 pass attempts with five interceptions.

Defensive keys: In their four defeats in 2005, the Bulldogs allowed an average of 38 points. Defensive coordinator Lonnie Morris has a quick and strong linebacker corps with St. John, Dorsey and Leverett. Ortiz, Pitchford and Johnson will anchor the five-man line.

Thin at: Offensive and defensive line

Big game: At Evans, Sept. 1

Different this year: Harlem's schedule is one of the toughest around, with Burke County, Lincoln County and Washington County joining Thomson on the slate.

Could go bad if: Harlem fails to capitalize on its first four games against Evans, Lincoln County, Aquinas and Liberty County before diving into the meat of region play.

Great year if: Harlem wins more than it loses. If the Bulldogs can somehow make the playoffs, it'll show they've beaten either Washington County or Thomson. Pulling that off will be an impressive feat.