With a little less than 20 players on a roster that features a number of young and inexperienced players, it is shaping up to be a year of development for the GISA team as it attempts to earn a third consecutive playoff berth in the Glory For Christ league.
“Our numbers are very similar to where we started last year,” Holy Spirit Prep coach Andre Taylor said. “We started with about 12 to 13 kids to get going, and we got up to 16 or 17 kids on a daily basis with our varsity program.
“We’ve got some talent in many of the skill positions. We’re working on growing our offensive line. We’ve got some players who can play it and we’re just coaching them up — just kind of define their skills. Some of the kids never played varsity football before and that’s the task now, to really go and coach and teach as much as we can — especially where we have kids playing both sides of the ball.”
The Glory For Christ League champions two years ago, the Cougars went 4-5 in 2012 and earned a spot in the GFC playoffs — where they lost to East Atlanta in the first round.
With so few players on the roster, most will indeed be playing significant roles on both offense and defense.
“Most of our team will play both sides of the ball,” Taylor said. “Most of our kids will flip and play very similar roles on either side of the ball. So, most of our receivers will flip over and be defensive backs. The same goes for our linebackers and running backs and the offensive line and defensive line. For the most part, they stay in those core roles.”
Senior Luke Whelan is one of those players who will be playing multiple roles.
Whelan will handle the kicking and punting duties for Holy Spirit Prep, but will also see significant time at wide receiver and defensive back and will shoulder much of the leadership role as the Cougars’ lone senior.
Sophomore running back Conner Whelan will play a key role on offense, while junior offensive lineman/defensive lineman Taylor Hazen, junior offensive lineman/linebacker Drew Vincent and wide receiver/defensive back Kyle Winkler will be offensive and defensive stalwarts for the Cougars.
Despite the challenges of a small roster and having a number of inexperienced players on its roster, Taylor is confident Holy Spirit Prep has enough talent on hand to make another serious push for a GFC league playoff spot.
“We have the potential to do that,” he said. “We’re going to have to grow some kids up front,” It’s a matter of a lot of youth. We have some kids who have left, but we also have some kids who are coming back. We have the addition of the eighth-graders who have moved up and some kids who have never played before and who have decided to play as both ninth- and 10th-graders. We’re now teaching the game to this group of kids and hopefully, they’ll learn and grow as the season goes on.”
Aug. 16 at Augusta Prep
Aug. 30 at Monsignor Donovan
Sept. 6 at Anderson
Sept. 13 at East Atlanta
Sept. 20 Freedom Academy*
Sept. 27 at North Georgia*
Oct. 4 Grace Baptist*
Oct. 11 at Crown Athletics*
Oct. 18 Johnson Ferry*
Oct. 25 Georgia Force*
*denotes region game