081419_MNS_Wesleyan_Micah_Smith Micah Smith

Wesleyan’s Micah Smith (1) returns a kickoff in a game in 2018.

Wesleyan earned seven wins last season and reached the second round of the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) Class A Private state playoffs for the second consecutive year.

The Wolves have made the playoffs seven straight years and are back in preparations to take the next step in the postseason.

“It was a great summer,” Wesleyan head coach Franklin Pridgen said. “We’re always trying to balance the need to get things done with encouraging our players to play other sports such as lacrosse, baseball and basketball, so everyone wants a piece of the athlete. In spite of that our attendance was great and (the team) participated in three seven-on-seven competitions and had great results. I’m cautiously optimistic heading into the season.”

Last season, the Wolves handed the reigns of the offense to freshman quarterback J.C. French, who proceeded to have 2,205 total yards and 18 touchdowns.

“J.C. made it real easy to start as a freshman because he’s really good,” Pridgen said. “We knew he was talented. He’s noticeably bigger, taller and stronger this year. The fact that he’s grown physically is great for him. He’s built a great relationship with our receivers. The experience of understanding our scheme and system while reading defenses is something he will benefit from this year.”

Senior Josh Morris, juniors Micah Smith, Wyatt Hodges and Andrew Van Wie and sophomore Cooper Blauser will be French’s main throwing targets at wide receiver. Junior Vance Nicolas will see significant action at tight end. Wesleyan will have a rotation of running backs this season including seniors Cardo Gottlich and Hunter Haran.

“It’s great to have depth and good competition at those positions,” Pridgen said.

The Wolves return three senior linemen in Chris O’Sullivan, Josh Aspinwall and Collin Conduah, who will play on both sides of the ball. Junior Tanner Bivins is also a standout lineman.

“They have great potential and done good work in the weight room this offseason,” Pridgen said.

Senior defensive back Trent Bartlett had a school-record nine interceptions in addition to 72 tackles last season and returns to the team. Gottlich had a team-high 81 tackles in 2018 for the Wolves at linebacker.

“We’re going to have to develop our running game with our strong offensive line to open up our passing game,” Pridgen said. “We’ll have to develop our special teams as well. Our defense will run a different scheme this year, so we’ll have to master it. I think not going farther in the playoffs than we did last year left our kids hungry and eager for this year. I’m excited about their mindset.”

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