MILTON, Ga. — King’s Ridge has experience and talent in abundance among its senior class. However, that class only includes a few players.
Though the Tigers will be youth-laden this season, many of their underclassmen already have Friday night experience under their belts.
“We played a lot of young kids last year,” King’s Ridge head coach Jeff Pickren said. “So, it’s not that we don’t have a lot of kids coming back, we are just not senior heavy.”
The Tigers’ youth movement will be led defensively by junior linebacker Dean Giacobbe, sophomore linebacker Ethan Joseph and junior corner Jackson Hankins. On offense, Pickren said Clay Harris should make an impact at slotback along with the Tigers’ sole seniors, Braxton Chadwick and Julian Joseph.
Chadwick will lead the offense behind center again this season with Julian at B-back in the triple option.
“Both of those guys are multiple-year starters and great kids,” Pickren said. “And being the only two seniors, they are definitely going to carry the lion’s share of leadership.”
Pickren, entering his second season in his second stint as head coach of the Tigers, said the team is in a better position entering the regular season than last year despite their youth.
“I feel good about what we are doing, and I feel like we have a better idea of where we want to be,” he said. “I also feel like we are better offensively and have more speed to get out on the edge. We’re young, but in some ways we have a little bit more depth than last year.”
King’s Ridge enters this season following a 1-9 campaign in 2018, though several of their losses were in close games. King’s Ridge dropped its matchups with Providence Christian, Mount Pisgah, Pinecrest Academy and Bowdon by one score.
“We didn’t have a great record last year, but I did feel like we were a competitive football team,” Pickren said. “Now it’s just getting over that hump in close games, and we are hoping to do that this year.”
A key to that success will be the Tigers sitting in the driver’s seat of each game.
“Running the triple option, we need to possess the ball and control the game,” Pickren said. “If we can do that and play a physical brand of football, we will be successful. We have a young group of committed guys who are all excited about getting the program over the hump.”
The Tigers are still chasing the program’s first winning year after fielding its first full season in 2010, and though Pickren said he and his squad want to reach that goal, their record is not the most important factor of the season.
“Wins and losses do not necessarily mean success,” Pickren said. “I will judge their success by the way they compete, their respect for their opponents, their preparation and their conduct on and off the field. We absolutely want to win football games, but I’m not going to let that be what defines us.”