By Derrick Richemond
Instead of an intrasquad scrimmage, Forsyth Central traveled to Creekview to cap spring practice with a contest that ended with a 12-12 tie.
“I was happy with their performance and excited for what next year holds," Central coach David Rooney said. "We saw things on film that are fixable. I’m really proud of the work the boys put in, and in the offseason, you can tell they are a lot more physical [and] play a lot more physical."
Rooney was victorious in his first game as a head coach by earning a shutout win against Northview 62-0, but as the season evolved the Bulldogs struggled to find the win column and finished the season 2-8.
It’s been a journey for Rooney converting from a defensive coordinator to a head coach.
“I have a lot more stuff to get better at myself," Rooney said. "That’s kind of part of the fun to do it with the kids. We all have areas we can improve on and have a good core of kids that trust in us, that are working hard, and I know I have a staff that’s working equally as hard to not let the kids down."
Central has key players returning onto the football field. Offensive lineman Luke Sacchetti graded out at 90 percent and led the Bulldogs in pancakes, while long snapper Koby Balthazor was among the best in the county at his position.
“The offensive line compared to last year is 200% better and very competitive," Rooney said. "Last year it was hard to fill five positions. This year we have about eight kids capable of playing Friday nights."
Wide receiver Camden Yeager is also returning. He led the team in receiving with 41 catches for 431 yards and four touchdowns. Andrew Carrizo also figures to be a key contributor.
Rooney emphasized how this year's team has developed a lot more than last year.
“We have so many returning players this year, so the work they put in last year, we have some real opportunities this year to be really competitive and potentially get to the playoffs. It’s going to come down to how we perform, how we come together as a team. Hopefully, this summer we build some team bonding, continue to get stronger, and [be] better on their roles and responsibilities for their position,” Rooney said.
“We have tons of positions that have a lot of competition. That’s one of the exciting parts: there’s a lot of positions that have competition for starting jobs. We have some good depth at some positions and in other positions we have the summer to build that depth,” Rooney said.
Just like any coach, Rooney expects his team to be competitive in every single game.
“I know we have a tough region [and] I feel we have a tough non-region schedule," Rooney said. "It’s a matter of football — who makes the big play at the right moment."
Central will open the season against Chattahoochee on Aug. 19.