Hawks still preaching patience heading into first road trip

by Doug Gorman

When Heritage School football coach D.J. Clay talks about his team, there’s still plenty of enthusiasm in his voice.

That’s despite all the craziness that’s happened to the Heritage football team the last three weeks.

It started when Clay was pro- moted from defensive coordinator to head coach when Kevin Prisant abruptly resigned just days before losing the opener 13-12 to Flint River, losing his starting quarterback Brad Macke to shoulder injury in the second series of the season, and dropping to 0-2 to start the year.

Last week, Heritage struggled to get anything going, turning the ball over seven times in a 56-19 loss to a strong John Milledge Academy program.

As the Hawks take to the road for the first time tonight for a non- region game against Terrell Academy, Clay thinks the Hawks have a chance to be a good before the end of the year, and contend even contend for a region crown.

“The score doesn’t show it, but we have been able to do some pretty good things,” Clay said. “In that first game, we were able to pile up more than 400 yards of offense. I think we had four turnovers in the red zone, so that’s something like 28 points we have left on the field.”

The message Clay is trying to get across to the Hawks, is rooted around patience, especially with its GISA Region 1-AAA opener still a week away. Heritage’s three non- region opponents this year are currently sitting at 6-0 heading into Friday.

“Our kids know we are moving the football,” Clay said. “Defensively, we have missed a couple of assignments and that shortened the field for the other team, but we are getting there.”

John Milledge, which improved to 2-0 after coming off consecutive 11-2 and 12- seasons, turned all seven Heritage turnovers into points last week.

Backup quarterback Peyton Henson, who took over for Macke against Flint River, showed flashes of moving the team against John Miledge’s stout defense last week, completing 14 of 26 passes, but the Hawks were only able to score a handful of times.

“He has done an awesome job stepping in at quarterback,” Clay said. “We are just trying to make sure we are finding plays that are more comfortable for him. He has had to force a few passes, but we told him that is not something we are upset about. We just want him to get better and move this team for- ward. He’s taken that challenge on himself.”

Henson has found a favorite tar- get in tight end Cole Jones during the first two games. The two have hooked in both games for some big plays, including last week with a 43-yarder.

Tristan Stoffle has also played well on both sides of the ball. Last week, he had an interception against the Trojans, one of the few times the Hawks defense came up with a stop.

The coaching staff is hoping Macke can eventually return to the lineup, but they won’t bring him back before he’s ready.

“We would love to have him in the lineup, but we don’t want to bring him back to soon,” Clay said. “The last thing we want to do is have him get hurt and be gone for the rest of the season. “Right now Brad is about 65-70 percent, and we want to make sure he is better than that before we put him back in the game. There is a chance we will play him Friday, but I doubt it.”

The Hawks biggest challenge will be to stop a Terrell Academy’s spread offense. The Eagles have averaged more than 40 points in their first two games, beating Heritage rival Trinity Christian 41-26 and Southwest Georgia Academy 49-27.

“They are going to try and get to the outside by running a lot of jet sweeps,” Clay said. “They will also try and go deep.”

Both teams will be using quarterbacks that opened lost starter Dalton Todd to an injury earlier in the year.

“We have seen their backup quarterback on film, and he looks pretty good,” Clay said.



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