First Presbyterian Christian Academy will open its football season at Westwood Christian in Camilla at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Highlander head coach Terry Middleton said he has several returning players but, as usual, a small roster.
“Jamison Golson, he is one of our big backs and Sensier Carnes is another back,” Middleton said. “But we have a fresh look on the offensive and defensive line. ... A few returnees, but that is where we lost a bulk of our players.”
They also lost former quarterback Dylan Stewart. The Highlanders will rely on sophomore Steven Young at QB.
“He is filling in real nice and he is running the offense,” Middleton said, adding he expects all-around player George Mitchell to suit up and play now that summer basketball has ended.
“Right now, we have 16 players but we have a couple more that are coming in,” Middleton said.
FPCA also lost all-around athlete Jimmy Ouyang to graduation.
“With Jimmy gone, we lost a lot of speed,” Middleton said. “But we’ve made up for it with more size this year. We have more power finesse.”
Returning senior Nasmeek Murphy and Golson both stand above 6-feet tall and weigh more than 200 pounds. Senior guard Brandon Attical is 6 foot 4 inches and 268 pounds.
Middleton said those players are just a sample of the size and power FPCA will bring to the field.
As usual, Middleton said a small roster means iron-man football with nearly every player seeing action on both sides of the ball.
“We are getting them in shape, but we did work hard all summer,” Middleton said. “The guys know they have to play iron-man football and just make it happen. It is a different mindset for these guys this year and they are totally enjoying it. They’ve been putting in the work in the hot summer days.”
Middleton’s assistant coach, William Herdman, moved. The head coach said his new offensive coordinator is former Bradwell player Frank Troup. Middleton also has a new defensive coordinator in Mike Durham, who moved to the area from Chicago.
The coach said the schedule pits the Highlanders against schools that are comparable in size and roster numbers.
The Westwood Wildcats went 4-6 last season and were 2-5 in the Georgia Independent School Association’s Class 3-AAA region.
FPCA went 2-9 overall last year and were 1-2 in 2-AA of the GISA. This will be the Highlander’s fifth season of football. The first two the Highlanders were winless at 0-20. Middleton took over as head coach midseason 2014 and guided FPCA to its first two wins and a trip to a playoff game.
Last year, the Highlanders repeated with two wins and playoff trip, but were once again eliminated in the first round of post-season action.
Friday’s game at Westwood is the first time these two school will meet on the football field.