ROSWELL – Between 1981 and 2010, the Roswell Hornets had exactly one losing season in football, going 4-6 in 1994.
Roswell went 0-10 and 3-7 in 2011 and ’12, and as a result will begin the 2013 season with a new head coach, the Hornets’ third in the last four years.
John Ford, the team’s offensive coordinator last season, takes over as head coach and will be looking to reverse Roswell’s declining fortunes.
Not only are the Hornets coming off back-to-back difficult seasons, but they will be trying to improve with a mostly untested squad, as the majority of starters have graduated from last year’s team that was better than its record.
“We’re not used to a run like the last two years,” says Ford, who is in his sixth season on the Roswell football staff.
After the disappointments of the last two seasons, which included a string of narrow losses that could have gone in the Hornets’ favor, Ford says he is “not focusing on wins and losses.” Instead, Ford is stressing his team do the things necessary “to get better.”
For a team that went 3-7, Roswell lost a significant amount of talent, with Ford having to replace starters in just about every area.
Offensively, the Hornets return one starting linemen and some backs who saw action in reserve roles. Guard Justin Auer is the lone returning starter in the line, with Ford pointing out that “six or seven guys are fighting for four spots. We won’t be quite as big as we were last year.”
Matt Cory, who completed all three of his pass attempts last year, two for touchdowns, gets first crack at the quarterback job, with James Whitaker also vying for playing time. Ford says both are drop-back style QBs and expects he won’t know what the playing situation will be “until game one.”
The Hornets have to replace tailback Andrew Kwateng (1435 yards rushing, 10 TDs), with 2012 backup Mechane Slade playing a key role in a final game upset of Walton. Shakur Jackson also saw varsity action last year.
Colin McCauley heads up what will be an all-new group of receivers.
The one area where the Hornets are relatively set is the defensive line, where Davonte Hill, Isaiah Hawkins and Chris Bryant all having starting experience.
In a mostly passing region, Ford is switching to a 4-2-5 defense. Pat Sheehan moves from end to linebacker, with Scott Simons moving to an outside position from linebacker. Sam Vanede takes over at the other linebacker spot.
The secondary was one of Roswell’s strongest areas last season with a talented group of seniors. There is plenty of competition at corner, with Josh Selembo the leading contender at free safety.
Ford is shying away from evaluations about his team and the upcoming season, but believes his players have the desire to get the Roswell program headed in a positive direction.
”This is a proud, competitive group of kids. They will do what it takes.”