This might be a season in which the Milledgeville Missiles truly live up to their name.
Footballs figure to be flying out of the team's backfield with regularity, thanks to strong-armed quarterback Jordan Harris and a stable of receivers at his disposal. Making that option even more appealing is the graduation of workhorse running back Daniel Walker, who went for 827 yards and nine touchdowns in an even 100 carries in 2013.
Seniors Blake Kappes and Zach Schmidt return to the fold in 2014, and are joined by Troy Litwiller, a cornerback in 2013, and Joe Gennaro, a senior who played his first 2 years, then sat out as a junior.
"The wide receivers, they like to make plays, and they can all run," Milledgeville coach Jason Wroble said. "They're going to cause mismatches for our opponents, because they're not going to have corners that can match up with them. It's a positive part of our team."
Kappes is the leading returning receiver for Milledgeville, with 21 catches for 221 yards and two scores as a junior. He's excited about what he and the rest of the receiving corps bring to the table.
"I think we mesh really good," Kappes said. "Some of us have really good speed, we all have good hands, and that's a really good combination. It will be hard for teams to stop that. I think we'll be able to spread the ball around."
Kappes cited Schmidt as having the best hands in the group, and Litwiller was likely the fastest – though Gennaro may have something to say about that.
Schmidt had 16 receptions a year ago, for 102 yards.
"I think we've all got good hands," Schmidt said, "but if we drop a pass in practice, we all kind of tease each other. It's good motivation."
Harris was one of the top wide receivers in the area as a sophomore, but was moved to quarterback in Week 2 last season after the starter, Kameron DawTyne, went down with an injury. Harris ended up completing 75 of 159 passes for 697 yards, with six touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
Harris also rushed 45 times for 134 yards, and four TDs.
"We've been playing with Jordan since junior high," Litwiller said, "so he knows our speeds and what we're going to do."
Wroble, entering his sixth season as head coach, usually has about a 65 percent run, 35 percent pass ratio, but that may be shifted a little bit more toward the pass this season. The backfield, outside of Harris, is unsettled, with a host of backs competing for time.
"I think we have a good rotation of running backs this year, but won't lean on one as heavily," Wroble said. "I think we'll lean on our wide receivers a little bit more."
Did you know?
Milledgeville qualified for the playoffs 16 times in head coach Gary Hartje's 30 years as head coach, with three semifinal appearances. They were in 1998, 1999 and his final season, 2008.