High School Football
Heritage School refocuses for trip to Stratford
by Chris Goltermann
Bye weeks in high school football don’t always arrive at the precise moment for a head coach.
At times, they can squash momentum from the previous week’s performance. For Kevin Prisant at The Heritage School, it couldn’t have been any more welcomed.
“It would not have been good for us to have a game last week,” he admitted.
The gameplan for the third-year Hawks head coach didn’t last through halftime in a 45-7 loss to Mount de Sales, where it was ripped to shreds as Heritage fell behind 17-0 after just one quarter.
“Some of things were just not normal for us like a bad punt snap. We haven’t had one of those in maybe two years,” Prisant said.
Moving the school’s Homecoming game ahead one week allows the Hawks the chance to regroup prior to Friday’s trip to Stratford Academy in Macon. But even with 10 practice days to prepare for an Eagles team coming off a dominating 47-12 win at Trinity last Friday, it’ll be a challenge for Heritage to slow down an opponent that hasn’t made many mistakes in a 4-2 start following a win in last week’s Region 2-AAA opener.
“They are as fundamental a team as they come,” said Prisant of Stratford. “They know how to win.”
A young Heritage team with plenty of success at the feeder-school level, is in the learning stages when it comes to the above. The growing pains of a large graduating senior class following last year’s trip to the Class AAA state championship game have the Hawks playing more than a half-dozen freshmen and sophomores at any one time on the field.
Injuries have taken their toll as well, with center Hamp Carter the latest casualty following a concussion.
Freshman Jay Macke steps into a starting job in front of older brother Brad, Heritage’s junior quarterback.
Against Mount de Sales, the Hawks offense found a rough go, managing just two first downs against a large Cavaliers defense that included five defensive starters well over 210 pounds.
Prisant expects senior David Bready to increase his snaps this week after gaining four carries for 14 yards in his return to the lineup following an extended elbow injury. Heritage was held to 119 yards rushing on 27 carries while 4 of 12 passing for 21 yards.
Sophomore Matt Burns led the team with five carries for 39 yards while freshman Hamp Smith continues to equally make an impression on his head coach after finishing with eight attempts for 25.
The duo, along with freshman Chase Evans made up 14 of Heritage’s 27 rushing attempts.
While effort hasn’t been an issue during a 2-4 start to the 2013 season, Prisant admits that his young lineup is coming to grips with a level of trust needed between teammates.
“They continue to fight and that’s what’s encouraged me the most,” Prisant said. “They do know how to win because they’ve done it in our other [feeder] programs. The sophomores we had last year saw it on the varsity. I think sometimes they want to make a play so bad, they don’t get themselves placed into the right position. We’ve just got to trust each other. I’m not so concerned about the scoreboard. I just want to see us compete.”
From Prisant’s perspective, it’s what’s made Stratford’s offensive line as much a catalyst in the Eagles’ success so far. The group, which is in charge of protecting senior quarterback John Mitchell, includes junior Conner Collins (6-4, 260), senior guard Devyn Gaton (5-11, 200) and junior center Alex Koplin (6-0, 260).
“Their guys run through the hole so hard because they trust that the line is going to make those blocks,” Prisant said, adding of Mitchell. “He’s impressive.”