In just its second year of varsity competition, Heritage caught several teams by surprise.
The Huskies made their first playoff appearance and finished the year 4-3 in the Cap Eight (6-6 overall) in 2012. A year earlier, Heritage snagged just one conference win and finished the year 3-8.
This season, the program is a year older and is garnering more attention early on.
“We’ve made a fast change,” said coach Jason McGeorge, who has coached the team since the program started on the JV level in 2010. “You kind of want to be under the radar at times, but these kids have worked hard and we are glad that people are taking notice. It’s a nice thing to be considered a contender, but with expectations you have to deliver and we do have to continue to work hard and hopefully contend.”
Heritage shook things up last year, climbing into the Cap Eight’s final playoff spot and nearly upsetting eventual conference champion Leesville Road in a 17-14 loss at Leesville as it held the Pride to its lowest point total of the season.
Despite graduating its first class of seniors (28 total) last year, the Huskies return several core players.
Quarterback Blake Walters will start behind center for the third straight year. His production has increased with each season as he doubled his pass yardage per game and was one of the Huskies’ top touchdown scorers in 2012.
“He has incredible maturity and moxy,” McGeorge said of the junior who is coming off a knee injury. “He’s calm and has an understanding of what we do.”
Heritage returns several skill players, hoping to continue its physical brand of football.
Two of the Huskies’ top rushing threats, Greg Clifton and Abdul Sesay, are back, and starting tackle Trey Ratliff also returns, along with center Matt Donovan.
McGeorge said he hopes to balance out the offense with more passing this year, as Heritage passed for just over 1,000 yards last year and rushed for more than 2,200, but the key will be the Huskies’ play on the other side of the ball.
“Defense is the strong point this year for us,” he said. “Our defense is extremely aggressive and sets a strong tone for us and is going to take us where we want to go.”
Senior outside linebacker Charles Clark is the core of that group, along with senior defensive end Beze Uzoma.
“This is our first (senior) class to have all four years (with the Heritage program),” McGeorge said. “This group of young men had to be with us for four years and understand how we work.
“We feel good going into the season just because of the communication and the comfort among the players.”
If the Huskies defense can lead the way while the offense takes care of the ball, McGeorge thinks Heritage might be able to make some noise again.