Last season, Holy Innocents’ earned six wins, its highest victory total since 2013.
The Golden Bears also reached the second round of the Georgia High School Association Class A Private playoffs for the first time since that same year.
“We return a good amount of players from last season including 10 starters on offense and eight on defense,” Holy Innocents’ coach Todd Winter said. “We have a lot of experience and senior leadership. Bringing back that nucleus through spring ball and summer workouts has created a positive culture and understand the work they have to put in to have another successful season”
Top returners for the Golden Bears include senior running back Michael Cox, who rushed for a team-high 1,625 yards and 25 touchdowns on 240 carries without a fumble. He has rushed for 2,865 yards and 42 touchdowns in his career entering the 2019 campaign.
“Michael is a workhorse for us and gets those tough yards inside,” Winter said. “His vision improved from sophomore year while getting bigger, faster and stronger. He did an excellent job with ball security.”
Senior quarterback Matthew Davis had 986 total yards and 11 total touchdowns piloting the triple option offense.
“Matt is a great leader and takes command of the offense. He understands what we’re doing on offense and getting us in a good position. He was productive on the ground for us.”
Junior Connor Swennumson returns at center alongside fellow offensive linemen starters in seniors Charlie Hawk and Blake Dobbs. Junior Mac Mitchell, as well as seniors Tyler White and Hall O’Neal, will also be in the lineman rotation.
“I’m excited about the depth we have on the line of scrimmage,” Winter said.
Said Cox, “The team is looking great and we have experience returning. The camaraderie is high especially coming off of last season. We’re working to be fundamentally strong. Coach Winter has done a great job rebuilding us from the ground up and placing players in the right position to succeed.”
The defensive line will consist of seniors Griffin McKinnis, Sam Aiken, Spencer Goetz and O’Neal as starters. Senior linebacker Hunter Hawk had a team-high 121 tackles and three sacks on defense in addition to six rushing TDs on offense. Alongside him will be senior Ronny Williams at linebacker. Seniors TyQuann Alexander, Leighton Dickson, Jack Felton and junior Bo Maxwell will be the starting defensive backs.
“For overall success, we have to take care of the ball,” Winter said. “We have to get a first down every time we have the ball on offense. We have to eliminate penalties because they will hinder our offense as well as turning the ball over. Defensively, we have to create negative plays such as sacks, fumbles, interceptions, tackles for loss with the goal of having eight per game because everytime we did that last year, we won. We also have to win the field position battle with junior punter Marshall Nichols and senior kicker Peter Wandtke.”