The Heritage School at Dominion Christian

Hawks looking to slow it down against Dominion

by Chris Goltermann

The optimist could look at The Heritage School’s 25-13 loss to Flint River last Friday in its season opener as one where a young Hawks team simply run out of gas — as well as players — in as emotional a setting that high school football could provide. 

The pessimist will point to losing two early leads against the Wildcats and an offense that struggled in the final two quarters in part to penalties and a later interception inside the Flint River 25-yard-line.

But Heritage head coach Kevin Prisant falls into neither of those categories.

Instead, Prisant is a realist who understands the Hawks will have to put last week’s loss behind them in time for tonight’s trip to Marietta to play 2-0 Dominion Christian.

“I was very proud of our effort,” Prisant said. “But the thing I’m excited about is to see how we come back and respond to a loss. We’re still looking to find leadership.”

A good bit of Heritage’s youth and inexperience was certainly exposed after losing 16 players off of last season’s 11-2 roster, especially against a veteran Flint River team. The roster thinned out even more after losing senior David Bready, one of just four upperclassmen, to an elbow injury after picking up 41 yards on four carries early on.

It will leave the Hawks (0-1) with a backfield trio comprised of two freshmen and a sophomore heading into tonight’s visit to play an athletic Dominion program that went 4-7 last year in its first GISA season.

The Knights have already showcased a potent offense this fall, scoring over 40 points in victories over Crown Academy (48-34) and Griffin Christian (43-20) the past two weeks.

Heritage no longer possesses quite the breakaway threat that it had last season in senior Candler Rich, but a younger group of skill players led by the return of junior quarterback Brad Macke have the potential to create headaches for the Knights as far as time of possession.

“We’re very basic in what we’re trying to do on offense,” Prisant said. “A lot of those guys were playing for the first time on Friday night. I told the guys, 10 feet, that’s all we want every play.”

Last week’s offensive play calling was atypical for what the Hawks hope to achieve on a typical Friday. Prisant called 27 pass plays, with three others also ending with the ball in the air “and that’s not what we want to do,” he said. “(Flint River) took us out of our game plan. They’re very well coached and well disciplined.”

It’ll be essential, though, to control the ball and the clock tonight if Heritage hopes to even its early-season record. Prisant still liked some of the things he witnessed from a trio of freshmen Hamp Morris and Chase Evans and sophomore Matthew Burns.

Macke, meanwhile, was 11 of 19 for 146 yards with a touchdown and an interception while also gaining 58 rushing yards and a score on 15 carries.

Last week’s game also included a gutsy effort from junior linebacker Trevor Sawyers, who left early with a shoulder injury, only to return and finish the game.

Heritage’s defense, led by Sawyers and senior Dalton Trammell, will have to try and slow a pass-happy spread offense from the Knights led by junior quarterback A.J. Wilson (6-0, 170). A corps of wide receivers includes Dorien Jenkins (5-7, 150), son of Dominion head coach Javier Jenkins.

“They throw it about 70-percent of the time,” said Prisant. “The thing about their quarterback is he doesn’t hold the ball long.”

Wilson’s biggest target in size and stature expects to be senior tight end Luke Lewallen, who could cause matchup problems with his 6-2, 220-pound frame.

“We got to see him in 7-on-7 [games] this summer,” Prisant said of Lewallen. “He is a legit college player. They’ve got two scat backs that can fly. They try to get their athletes in space.”

As talented as its attack, Dominion’s defense continues to give up yardage to opponents. After giving up 360 points last season, the Knights have allowed at least three scores in each of their first two games this fall.

Between opening night jitters and the team’s first game without fallen teammate Tyler Henson, the Hawks were battling their own emotions through much of last Friday. Flint River paid tribute by painting Henson’s No. 8 on the Heritage sidelines and then taking a knee on its first play and presenting a ball to Tyler’s family.

“They’re a class act,” Prisant said of Flint River. “After the game is when it probably when it was the most emotional. As much as things went wrong for us and against a team like that we were still in the game to start the fourth quarter. The effort is there. We’re just trying to find some leaders to step up.”

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