Heading into his debut season as Forsyth Central head coach, David Rooney noted how tough it would be to compete in Region 6-7A.
"We're all capable of being region champs," Rooney said entering the 2021 campaign, "and we're all capable of going 0-6."
Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, they wound up with the latter result.
The stats were far from ideal. The closest region game was a 23-0 loss to North Forsyth. In the six region setbacks, Forsyth Central allowed more than 33 points per game, while scoring a total of 26 points.
To bounce back this season, Rooney knows it will take contributions from across the board. The key, though, he thinks resides along the offensive line.
After making it through last season, which did include a 2-2 record in non-region play, with no seniors up front on offense, Forsyth Central is primed to return an experienced unit. The belief is that the O-line could be the difference in helping the Bulldogs turn things around.
Another year older, another year wiser and another year stronger. That's what Rooney is expecting from his players in the trenches.
“We worked all summer on getting stronger,” he said. “Last year, we were young across the board. We had zero seniors on our offensive line. As everybody knows in football, you’re going to go offensively the way your offensive line goes.
"The biggest thing [during the offseason] was getting stronger. These four and the rest of the team really bought into that. They lived in the weight room and got a ton stronger from where we were a year ago today.”
Luke Sacchetti, a senior and two-time all-county performer, is expected to lead the group.
“We had a very young O-line,” Sacchetti said of last year, “so having another notch on their belt of varsity football and another year in the weight room, I think we’re really going to surprise some people with what we’ve got up front. We’re going to be very big, very strong. We’re just going to play bully football and drive people around.”
In hopes of increasing the team's offensive production, while also eliminating the need to make wholesale changes every offseason, Rooney is implementing an offense that can more easily be tailored to Forsyth Central's strengths each year.
"We have an offensive system that we think is a lot of fun," Rooney said. "It gives us the flexibility to really use the talents that everybody has year in and year out. Depending on what kind of talent happens year in and year out, it's not like we have to start over from scratch. It's a very multiple and flexible kind of offense. ...
"It's going to be a fun offense to watch, that's what I really believe."
Meanwhile, Andrew Carrizo and Koby Balthazor — a former quarterback — should help anchor the Bulldogs defensive line, which is similarly looking to be the backbone of its side of the ball.
"I love hitting people," Balthazor said. "I wanted to make the switch. It's more aggressiveness. It's more getting involved in the game every play. I love my defensive linemen here."
It's going to take big steps forward from both sides of the ball for Forsyth Central to suddenly jump into the playoffs, especially given that the new-look region features five playoff teams from 2021. But if the new offense proves successful and the defensive line can wreak havoc, the Bulldogs might not be staring down another winless region slate.
"If we can not listen to the outside noise and just worry about ourselves," Rooney said, "then we're going to surprise a lot of people."