Coach Brian Bohannon and his Kennesaw State Owls are less than a week away from playing their inaugural game at East Tennessee State.
KENNESAW — The Kennesaw State football program has already worked its way through many firsts — first signing class, first fall practice, first fall scrimmage, first spring practice, first spring game.
On Friday, with only six days remaining before their inaugural game at East Tennessee State, the Owls said they were ready for the firsts to be over so they could concentrate on football.
“We’re not too focused on the first game,” said safety Taylor Henkle, a former Kell High School standout. “We’re just focused on the game.”
Starting quarterback Trey White agreed.
“We’re not here to be playing the first game,” said White, a junior transfer from The Citadel. “We’re here to get the first win.”
White thinks Kennesaw State may have an advantage this week because East Tennessee State will have to go through all the activity and chaos with Thursday being the inaugural home game for the Buccaneers’ reborn football program.
“I think the team that can handle it the best will win,” White said.
Thursday’s game will be unique with the fact that there is no game tape for either side to study in making a game plan, but Kennesaw State coach Brian Bohannon said the teams know one another better than outsiders may expect.
Bohannon said he has been coaching against ETSU’s Carl Torbush for a long time. The staffs know one another and they each have an idea of what they can expect when they line up Thursday.
“It would be nice to know what we’ll face,” Bohannon said, “but that’s what makes this first game so exciting.”
To help prepare for ETSU, Kennesaw State ran its scrimmage last weekend as if it was a true game, with warmups and a coin toss. The team was split in two, utilizing both sidelines, and the coaches used headphones to relay information. Bohannon said it was a good operational workout for everyone.
Coming out of the scrimmage, the Owls also released their final preseason depth chart. In addition to White, other offensive starters include Central Florida transfer Micah Reed and former South Paulding standout Jae Bowen at running back, and Sprayberry product P.J. Stone at wide receiver.
The 22-year-old Stone is a senior who will be playing his first competitive game since 2010, his final season at Sprayberry. He attended Eastern Kentucky briefly but did not play a game before returning home to Cobb County.
On defense, Luther Jones will start at nose tackle, with Dez Billingslea and Izzy Sam at linebacker. Dante’ Blackmon, an Appalachian State transfer, will get the nod at cornerback across from junior college transfer Keon Roman and Henkle at safety.
Barring injury, Bohannon doesn’t see the depth chart changing before the team leaves for Johnson City, but that doesn’t mean the backups will be sitting on the sidelines very long. How much a player plays will depend on game situations.
“There’s some No. 2s that will get as many reps as the 1s,” Bohannon said.