The Garrett Falcons have made the playoffs in each of the last three seasons.
A year ago, the Falcons defeated Lee Central, 14-6, to win their first postseason game in recent memory.
This year, the Falcons want to take the next step and make a deep playoff run in Class AA. First-year head coach Nick Hopp is optimistic that the Falcons have the nucleus in place to get to the next level.
"I think if we can stay healthy, we've got a chance to get to the playoffs and a make a run," Hopp said. "We've been to the playoffs and each year we've got steadily better. We've got a good group of seniors that I think are hungry to make it past the second round of the playoffs. I'm expecting big things this year."
Hopp, who was the Falcons' defensive coordinator a year ago, takes over for veteran head coach Rick Burns, who retired at the end of last season.
"Rick did a great job and really taught me a lot," Hopp said.
Hopp said the Falcons' strength should be along the offensive and defensive lines. The Falcons have plenty of experience returning along the offensive and defensive lines, led by returning left guard Trevon Sanders and returning left tackle Raekwon Hymes. Both received college interest during the spring. Offensive lineman Ron Singleton, who plays with just one arm, returns for his senior season.
"Ron's comes to practice every day and works harder than anyone on the field," Hopp said. "He doesn't want any special treatment from anyone. He just wants to play football and be like everyone else."
Malik Drayton is returning as the starter at right guard and Jordan Mitchell returns as the starting center. Drayton, Sanders and Hymes will work two ways as starters on the defensive line as well.
The question mark is at the skill positions, Hopp said.
Kenneth Mungin is slated to start at quarterback, while seniors Jamie Cooper and Nathaniel Ancrum are expected to shoulder the load in the running game. Louis Lawrence and Willie White will be Mungin's top targets.
"Kenny isn't the biggest guy in the world, he does have trouble sometimes seeing over the line, but he's improving every day," Hopp said.