After finishing 8-4 and advancing to the second round of the state playoffs — winning a postseason game for the first time in the school’s 61-year history, the main focus for South Cobb coach Ed Koester as his Eagles begin the new season.
“We do have high expectations,” Koester said. “Our players have high expectations and our guys are going to try to fulfill those expectations.”
After a strong offseason of conditioning and a productive month of practice leading up to the season, Koester said his team is ready to go.
“We got through preseason pratce and a scrimmage without any injuries,” Koester said. “The kids are tired of hitting each other and are looking forward to Friday night, when we can play someone else.”
Nevertheless, there are the usual opening game concerns and anxieties for Koester.
“We’re going into our first ballgame, and Westlake has already played a game, so they have a leg up,” Koester said. “We’re concerned about whether the kicking game and special teams will be ready. We have all the usual anxieties that teams have going into their first game of the season.”
One area South Cobb doesn’t have to worry about is quarterback, where senior standout Stephon Masha returns.
Masha fueled the Eagles’ offense in the air and on the ground last year, throwing for 2,051 yards and 25 touchdowns and rushing for 214 yards and a score.
Koester expects his senior quarterback to be even better as he enters his final high school campaign.
“He worked hard during the summer and he had a good offseason,” Koester said. “He’s no longer a junior, and he knows he has to step up as a leader for us this season.”
South Cobb will be boosted even further by the return of senior wide receiver Jeremiah Alphabet, who is returning to action after missing the entire season in 2011 after breaking his leg in a preseason scrimmage.
South Cobb will play a Westlake team that will be trying to bounce back from a disappointing 4-6 season in 2011. The Lions won their first two games of the ’11 campaign before losing six of their last eight.
It will be the second game in a row that Westlake (0-1) will face a Cobb County opponent, with the Lions losing to Hillgrove 31-15 last week
Koester expects to have his hands full with a Westlake squad that combines a tough, physical style with some talented skill players.
“Westlake is a very, very physical team and they have some talented kids in the skill positions,” Koester said. “They’re going to be a tough challenge for us.”