ALPHARETTA, Ga. – In just its second season of varsity football in the GHSA, the King’s Ridge Christian Tigers posted a 5-5 record, scoring victories over their three nearby rivals – Fellowship Christian, Pinecrest Academy and Mount Pisgah.
The Tigers lost standout wide receiver Devon Schmitt along with most of their linemen, but coach Jeff Pickren says he has “some young kids I’m excited about.”
Other than Schmitt, the Tigers return most of their 2011 skill position starters, led by quarterback Bailey Miller and running back Tarez Miller (no relation).
Bailey Miller enjoyed a solid sophomore season after beating out a senior for the starting job. Pickren is looking for continued improvement from his returning starter, who suffered through some of the usual problems confronting young quarterbacks.
“I’d like to see a few less mistakes,” Pickren said, referring mainly to interceptions.
A healthy Tarez Miller would make a big difference in that regard, with the Tigers’ running back enjoying a few huge games last season as a freshman. Miller will be running behind a mostly rebuilt line, with senior Will Reagan the lone returning starter.
Julian Champ and Penny Hart are both back at wide receiver along with fullback Connor Burns. Connor Henderson also saw action in the backfield last season.
“With the loss of so many linemen, we may change some of the things we do, but nothing wholesale,” said Pickren.
Having experienced players at the other offensive positions will ease the burden on the new linemen, who Pickren says are comparable in size to last year’s starters.
The Tigers also lost some key defensive players, but have several returning starters. Henderson, who led the team in tackles from his outside linebacker position as a freshman, tops the list of returning regulars.
Allen Hetzel and Sam Garrard, who rotated at linebacker, also return, with end Josh Carter and tackle Dylan Loupe keying the defensive line. Champ and Jordan Harris return at corner.
“We’ll be solid defensively,” says Pickren, who is anxious to see how some of the team’s younger players perform once the season kicks off.
The Tigers are getting closer to their goal of making the playoffs, with Pickren uncertain how the changes in Class A will impact those hopes.
There is no clear favorite in the Tigers’ sub-region in 6-A, with the teams that finish near the top in the sub-region standings getting more favorable opponents in region crossover games that will be played the last week of the regular season.