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Football: Enthusiasm high throughout spring as Rooney takes reins at Central
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Forsyth Central's football team runs makes their entrance before facing Dawson County on Friday, Aug. 25, 2017. - photo by Brian Paglia

When David Rooney found out he had been promoted to Forsyth Central’s head football coach, he said he did not want to change from Central’s “bread and butter” of playing in the trenches and moving the ball fast downfield. 

However, one big change Bulldog fans will see on the field next year is less flex bone sets on offense under new offensive coordinator Bill Hobbs, meaning less option runs. 

That being said, Rooney said this spring has already been a true quarterback battle between senior Drew Mullvain and junior Koby Balthazor. Rooney mentioned that both were two of the more selfless players on the team and are eager for the Bulldogs to win games, despite who is at quarterback. 

Mullvain or Balthazor would be taking over a Bulldogs’ program that went 4-4 last season, capturing an exhilarating 28-27 region win over North Forsyth. 

“We have an extremely competitive region,” Rooney said. “We’re all capable of being region champs and we’re all capable of going 0-6. Every week is going to have a great battle.”

By the time the 2021 season starts on August 20 against Northview, Rooney and his coaching staff hope that the team has bought into the new culture of being enthusiastic about everything that the program does, something Rooney feels like has gotten away from the Bulldogs. 

“Our focus was trying to create a more enthusiastic culture of how we go about what we do,” Rooney said. “We always work hard and we’ve been more purposeful on the intent of what we’ve been doing. I know the players had a fun spring. There’s a lot of excitement.”

As the flex bone offense leaves the Bulldogs’ locker room, so does a huge senior class, with almost all defensive starters last year needing to be replaced. Patrick Haertel returns at running back and linebacker for the Bulldogs, someone that Rooney said has really been key helping with the turnover from last year’s head coach, Frank Hepler. 

Luke Sacchetti and Robby Watson will anchor the offensive line with Haertel and Marcus Brown running behind them. Toby Legarra and Carson Leak return for the Bulldogs linebacker core as well. 

With this spring and impending summer schedule being most of this team’s first true varsity offseason, Rooney said his team is focused on learning the new playbook right now and having fun doing it. 

“We haven’t sat down and set team goals but we follow a process,” Rooney said. “We will be hitting the summer with goals in mind. The first week of August, we’ll sit down with seniors and establish some goals for the season.” 

Rooney said the working and the amount of physicality this spring has his coaching staff excited for the rest of the 2021 season. Though Hepler will not be in coaches meetings anymore, Rooney said the way Hepler handled his coaching staff will remain with him throughout his career. 

“I always respected the way he managed coaches and built relationships in the coaching office,” Rooney said. “He just allowed coaches to coach and take ownership of what they’re responsible for.”