High School Football
Heritage School hopes to build team unity through trip to camp
by Doug Gorman
Heritage School head football coach Kevin Prisant knows the importance of building team unity.
Especially when the a lineup has been hit hard by graduation.
The biggest absence being felt this summer, however, is the loss of standout Tyler Henson, who was killed in a car accident in May.
'We never stop talking about him or what he meant to our program,' Prisant said 'He was a great leader, and he worked so hard.'
The team will display Henson's jersey at every game this season as a way to remember their teammate. They are also planning some other ways to remember Henson, who was a multiple-sport athlete for the Hawks.
'We just don't ever want to forget what he meant to the program. We want to stay inspired by his memory and his legacy,' Prisant said.
Last year, the Hawks compiled an 11-2 record and advanced to the GISA Class AAA state championship before losing to Deerfield-Windsor 27-19 on the road in Albany.
Heritage has only been playing football since 2006 and this was their first trip to the state title game.
The team's historic season came in its first year competing in Class AAA competition, GISA's largest classification.
Heritage returns its focus to football on Sunday when it leaves for football camp at Georgia Southwestern State University in Americus.
'Football camp is a good way to bond as a team,' he said.
It will also be a good way to find players who can step in for a team hit hard by graduation.
Thirteen seniors finished their high school careers last year, including alltime leading rusher Candler Rich, who will play college football at Yale.
Rich, a three-sport standout at Heritage, became the school's all-time leading rusher even before touching the football in his senior season. He scored touchdowns last year on offense, defense and special teams.
He heads to Yale after also considering an offer from Bulldogs rival Princeton.
'You don't replace Candler Rich,' Prisant said. 'He had great work ethic. He did the things he had to do to get better. He had such a great understanding of the game.'
Heritage will also use its time at camp to find a replacement for quarterback Joe Bonner. Junior Brad Macke took snaps last year early in the season when Bonner was hurt and could be the front-runner to earn the starting quarterback job heading into the season among other spots.
Running back/linebackers Dalton Trammell, and David Bready are among players who also saw significant playing during the Hawks' runner up finish last year.
GISA rules allow teams to scrimmage against each other while at camp, so the Hawks will put on the pads against Tiftarea, Tattnall Square and John Milledge.
'We are excited about going to camp,' said Prisant. 'We just hope we don't get to banged up. Last year, we came back pretty beat up.'
The injury bug didn't hurt the Hawks too much.
Heritage opened the season with eight straight wins before suffering the team's only regular-season loss to Tattnall Square, 38-35.
Heritage set up its meeting in the Class AAA finals with victories over Pinewood and Westfield in the playoffs to close out the school's best year ever.
Prisant hopes this year's Heritage squad plays with the same intensity as last' season's squad.
Despite ending its season on a disappointing note with the loss to Deerfield- Windsor, the team's first trip to the state championship turned into a shootout.
Needing a touchdown and the 2-point conversion, the contest came down to the last play of the game when Joe Bonner threw the ball in the direction of Rich in the Deerfield-Windsor end zone.
The pass was broken up in the end zone to end the game.
Prisant is entering his third season as head coach and brings a 19-5 record into Heritage's campaign. The Hawks open the season at Flint River on Aug 30.
The Hawks will first scrimmage Frederica in the Bob Peck Kickoff Classic.