Coach Jeff Arnette hopes experience will make all the difference for the South Forsyth football team this season.
The War Eagles struggled through a rebuilding year in 2011 after losing several crucial starters to graduation, including linebacker/running back Kyle Travis, who now plays for Georgia Tech.
South (2-8) lost its final six games last year and was outscored by an average of more than 27 points per game over the final four.
"The experience we bring back is the biggest difference from last year’s team to this year’s team," Arnette said. "We are a lot stronger and faster and just [more] physically fit than we were last year. You can tell the guys have been in the weight room."
Among those who the War Eagles will need a big season from is rising senior quarterback Janzten Jeffrey, coming off his first season as a starter.
Jeffrey’s speed as a runner led to some big plays on the ground last season, but the War Eagles’ passing attack never really came together.
Arnette believes South’s offense will be more balanced this season.
"He’s a dual threat, there’s no doubt about it," Arnette said of Jeffrey.
"He’s worked extremely hard in the offseason. He’s had a great spring; he’s done a great job in the weight room and on the field practicing."
Arnette doesn’t know yet who will spend the most time in the backfield with Jeffrey.
Though South used multiple running backs last year, Hunter Beeghley saw the most snaps in his senior season.
"In spring practice you don’t know a lot about ... who’s going to be where and that type of stuff," Arnette said.
But the War Eagles do know where they’ll be as a group — and the teams they will be facing.
The War Eagles move to the newly-created Class 6A this season, where they will compete with Lambert, North Forsyth and West Forsyth for a playoff spot in Region 6.
It’s the first time that four Forsyth County schools have been paired together in the same region
"Moving up is going to be a challenge for us," Arnette said. "You have to embrace it, though. We will probably be in 6A for a lot of years to come. Our [school’s attendance] number is going up."
The War Eagles will also play Forsyth Central in a non-region game, making them the first Forsyth County football team to ever face all four of the other public schools in a season.
"It’s going to make for some great rivalries," Arnette said.
"It’s exciting for the fans and it’s exciting for the kids."