Football team enters season with high hopes

The+Knights%27+have+lofty+expectations+for+this+season+with+an+extremely+deep+team+led+by+17+total+seniors.

Elias Podber

The Knights' have lofty expectations for this season with an extremely deep team led by 17 total seniors.

Keller Rentz-Baker, Online Section Editor

The Grady Knights varsity football team is entering the season with high expectations coming off of a 4-6 record last season with a near playoff berth. 

Head coach Kevin Clark is keyed in on preparing the team as much as possible to have a winning record and to hopefully clinch a spot in the playoffs. After a 20-14 loss to Fayette County, the Knights look ahead to their next game against Mays on Sept. 19.

“In general, I think we, as coaches, are hopeful we have prepared enough for us to win as much as possible,” Clark said. “Our preparation has been similar to what it was in past years, the only difference obviously being the pandemic.”

Players have similarly high expectations for the season.

“We want to have a great record and make it to the playoffs,” said sophomore Kirk Horshaw 

Every year, senior players are expected to step up and lead the team into the season. This year, the team has 17 seniors, which is more than any class in recent memory.

“I’m personally excited just to be a leader on the team,” senior Jack Dempsey said. “I want to be a role model for my teammates, and I can do that by playing well everyday.”

A common theme of the 2019-20 season was fatigue of starting players as they often had to play on both sides of the ball. This year, things could be different as the depth of the roster has improved.

“We have more depth this year than we’ve had in years past,” Clark said. “Last year, we had so many guys playing on both sides of the ball, which we won’t have to do this year, especially in the O-line and D-line, which is important because that’s where games are won — in the trenches.”

Even with a strong leadership unit, the team still has some room to improve.

“We’re really focusing on how we’re going to approach the season,” senior Savoy Grant said. “It’s not about the number of people we have; it’s about the people we have on the field.”

Coaches have had to adopt some unorthodox methods in practices as a result of COVID-19, which has had both positive and negative effects on the team.

“We have to be a lot more creative this year with how we practice because of the boundaries set in place,” Clark said. “One of the biggest changes was separating teams into pods, which was actually helpful, so positional groups could create bonds and build chemistry with each other.”

In these pods, coaches have introduced several different forms of practice.

“In practices, we’ve done a lot of positional drills, run throughs and a lot of game scenarios,” junior Dakota Almazan said.

The obvious threat of COVID-19 looms over the team and its hopes for a full season, but players and coaches believe they have taken the proper precautions for a safe and healthy season.

“COVID really hasn’t affected us because we have been pretty cautious about it,” Grant said. “We are wearing our masks in and out of practice continuously to stay in the condition we are now.”

Some have voiced concern for a situation in which a player on the team would contract the virus.

“If players get sick, they have to miss 1-2 weeks of practice, which could end up really affecting the team,” Almazan said.

COVID-19 has also required players to hold themselves accountable for their actions as their actions could affect the entire team.

“It made people be more aware of what they do in their own time and how that affects the team as a whole because if one person gets it, then that affects the whole team,” Clark said. “We’ve seen that with other teams where one player gets it and the whole team has to shut down, so it’s made everyone a little more cautious and a little more aware.”

With a change of teams in the region this year, the Knights will be playing some schools, including Villa Rica, Chapel Hill and New Manchester, that they have never played before. 

“Obviously, every game plan is different depending on who we play, but the region really won’t change how we play,” Clark said.

The Knights next game is Sept. 19 against Mays at Grady Stadium.

 

 

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