Hawks expect challenge in region opener
by Doug Gorman
When The Heritage School takes the field for tonight’s homecoming contest against Mount. de Sales in the GISA Region 2-AAA opener, head coach Kevin Prisant warns his squad shouldn’t be deceived by the Cavaliers’ 0-5 start.
He calls the team from Macon one of the most athletic squads the Hawks (2-3) will face this year.
The Hawks are using the rescheduled homecoming date to not only open the region slate, but also get back on track after dropping a 43-8 decision to Southland last week.
Heritage originally scheduled its homecoming festivities for October 25 against Westminster, but because of conflicts with state volleyball and cross country meets, homecoming was pushed to this week’s game.
The Heritage coach won’t allow his team to get caught up in all the homecoming hype.
“We have talked about it,” he said. “They know there is an important football game to play.”
Pristant isn’t happy about last week’s loss against a bigger and more experienced team, but he hopes it forces the Hawks to grow up.
“We finally got hit, I mean tattooed,” he said. “We hadn’t been hit like that since were were at camp. We finally got popped in the mouth. We kind of forgot what that felt like.”
The loss could be a wakeup call for what Heritage faces to close out out the season witih five consecutive games against 2-AAA foes.
According to Prisant, Mount de Sales’ slow start has been more about its tough schedule than its ability to put talent on the football field.
Losses to Memorial Day, defending Class AAA state champion Deerfield-Windsor, Westfield School, John Milledge and Valwood weren’t totally unexpected since all five of those teams are expected to make playoff runs.
“They are big and athletic,” Prisant said. “We have to get what we can get. Our guys have to know that three and four yards is a successful play. We got so used thinking the past few seasons that it wasn’t a successful play unless we gained 20 yards.” Some of that came as the Hawks relied on the school’s all-time leading rusher Candler Rich to break a rushing play off for a big gain.
“They are not to that point yet where they understand we get what we get,” he said. “We are going to try and teach these guys the basics of what we do.”
A year ago, Heritage rolled past the Macon area school 36-22 en route to a Region 2-AAA title.
Converted wide receiver Carson Leatherwood has played the last two games at quarterback for the Cavaliers.
Prisant really isn’t too concerned how Mt. De Sales moves the football.
“We aren’t good enough to worry too much about what other teams are doing,” Pristant said. “We are going to scout and our kids are going to be prepared. We are going to know what is coming, but that also means taking care of us in order to be successful.”
Even though the Hawks are five games into playing football without Rich, several guys are stepping up on the offensive side of the football.
Quarterback Brad Macke enters the region opener 38 of 71 passing for 475 yards and six touchdowns. Cole Jones has become his favorite target with seven catches for 106 yards and two touchdowns.
Macke is also the team’s leading rusher, gaining 382 yards and scoring four touchdowns. Matt Burns, who has stepped up to replace Rich, has gained 325 yards.
Linebacker Dalton Trammell has been one of the most dominating players on the defensive side of the football for the Hawks. He enters tonight’s contest with a team leading 35 tackles.
Jones and Macke also have become two of the team’s most consistent performers from the defensive side of the ball.
Macke has picked off three passes, and Jones one. Jones also had two sacks.
“We just are going to try and do what we do, and that means our base offense and our base defense,” Prisant said.
Heritage is off next week before traveling to Stratford Academy in Macon to resume the schedule.