FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — South Forsyth will be awash with new talent in 2019 with over 30 members of its roster graduating last year.
“We have a lot of spots to fill, but we are getting better all the time, and the kids are getting it done,” South Forsyth head coach Jeff Arnette said. “The guys seem to be doing all the things we need to do to get better.”
A fresh face at quarterback will lead the offense, but the starting role is still up for grabs between sophomore Kyle Durham and senior Joe Slott. It’s the same story at running back, and Arnette said multiple rushers should compile yardage. Jordan Brunson, the leading rusher for South last season, transferred to Denmark.
South’s defense also has spots to fill on the line, at linebacker and in the secondary under the direction of a new defensive coordinator, Ross Walker.
Though South will be relatively inexperienced, not all players are greenhorns.
The War Eagles have talented, veteran receivers, including Cameron Schurr and Colby Cruz, South’s top two receivers last season.
“Our receiving core is very talented, maybe as talented as we’ve had, and they should be a big contributor to our success,” Arnette said.
South’s offense also returns three starting linemen, while an experienced linebacker core, including senior Jax Weaver, will lead the defense.
“I feel like our linebackers will be the strength of our defense,” Arnette said.
South’s head coach also expects seasoned players and newcomers alike will contribute on both sides of the ball.
Arnette emphasized the importance of his coaching staff to South’s success this season. His veteran staff includes offensive coordinator Troy Morris, who has been with Arnette for a decade, and Heath Hover, who played for Arnette at Elbert County and will serve as the special teams coordinator.
“I feel great about the leadership on our coaching staff,” Arnette said.
It is a coaching staff that hopes to steer South to another winning season after the letdown record of 5-6 last season.
“I think last year is fuel for this year for the players, the coaches, everybody,” Arnette said. “It is great we reached the playoffs for the fifth season in a row, but we are looking to be at the top of the region, and we weren’t there last season.”
South’s non-region schedule should serve as an acid test for how the War Eagles are shaping up entering their run for a Region 5-AAAAAAA title.
The War Eagles will face four teams that earned playoff bids last season, including Class 4A state champions Blessed Trinity, who downed South 35-6 last season. After their matchup with BT, South faces a gauntlet of 7A teams, including Etowah, South Gwinnett and Hillgrove. The War Eagles went 3-2 against the same slate of opponents last year.
“When you play teams like that in the non-region, you get to find out what you’re made of early,” Arnette said. “Of course, then we get to region play where it’s extremely tough. You know you are going to get everyone’s best, and you have to face the defending state champs in Milton and all the country rivalries.”
South captured region championships in 2015 and 2017 and will look to continue that two-year title trend this season.
“We are definitely shooting for that region title, it’s a huge goal for our players and coaches,” Arnette said.
And he believes the brotherhood of his 2019 squad can fuel that title run.
“These guys are close, one of the closer-knit groups we’ve had,” he said. “And when you are that close, you seem to play better together.”