Posted: Thursday, August 15th 2013 at 9:41am
Football 2013: Spartans revved up for year two under Lotti
By Katie Davis Staff
WEST HALL: NEED TO KNOW
TEAM COLORS: Navy and Silver
CURRENT REGION: 7-AAA
HEAD COACH/RECORD AT SCHOOL: Tony Lotti, second season, 3-7
2012 RECORD/ACCOMPLISHMENTS: 3-7
KEY LOSSES: Sr. OL Blake Manning, Sr. WR Chase Jarrard (2nd team all-region), Sr. DL Damien Millsap
OFFENSIVE STYLE: Multiple-I -- West Hall is going to run the football, making the most of its size upfront and at the tight end position.
KEY OFFENSIVE PLAYERS: Return 9 starters -- Sr. TE Hunter Atkinson, Sr. QB Zach English, Jr. RB Isaiah Rowe, Jr. OL Blaine Satterfield
DEFENSIVE STYLE: 3-4 -- the Spartans are athletic in the defensive backfield and have experience at the linebacker position, so they will be aggressive
KEY DEFENSIVE PLAYERS: Return 9 starters -- Sr. ILB Eric Camacho, So. DB Tyquan Statham
SPECIAL TEAMS: Sr. P, PK Connor Kirkland
STRENGTH: A year wiser -- While still young, experience is a strength as the Spartans return 18 starters from 2012
QUESTION: Depth -- It’s an obstacle for West Hall at all positions, not just because the Spartans roster isn't large, but because the second- and third-string players have no experience on the varsity level.
KEY GAMES: The key game for West Hall is the first game and not just because it's a rivalry. Beating Johnson in Week 0 could provide momentum for a program attempting to find its footing again, and finding said footing will be most important come Sept. 20 when the tough Region 7-AAA schedule begins.
TRENDING: Second-year coach Tony Lotti is committed to building a program and this season is just another step in that process that he hopes leads West Hall forward. With experience returning at virtually every position, and with his players "starting to get" the complex offensive and defensive schemes, there's little doubt it will be.
Aug. 23 vs. Johnson
Sept. 6 at Chestatee
Sept. 13 at Lumpkin County
Sept. 20 vs. Banks County
Sept. 27 at Fannin County
Oct. 4 vs. Buford
Oct. 18 vs. East Hall
Oct. 25 at North Hall
Nov. 1 vs. White County
Nov. 8 at Dawson County
OAKWOOD –- Youth has been replaced by youthful experience for Tony Lotti and his Spartans entering his second year at the helm of the program.
Lotti graduated only 10 seniors from last year’s team that went 3-7, and only has 10 seniors this year, but those 10 have experience in his system and an offseason under his tutelage.
“We have a little bit more experience; we were very young last year,” said Lotti. “I’m hoping this year that having some returning players is going to pay off for us. We’re still young, but I think we’re starting to figure things out a little bit.”
Lotti makes no bones about his offensive and defensive schemes being complex, but with nine starters returning on both offense and defense, lack of execution shouldn’t be an issue this year.
Two of the 10 seniors Lotti is referring to will be called on to lead the Spartans’ multiple-I offense to what he hopes is a greater-than 18 points per game performance from 2012. And West Hall will lean heavily on returning starter at quarterback Zach English and returning starter at tight end Hunter Atkinson, who earned second-team all-region 7-AAA honors last year.
“We rely a lot on our tight end, so we’re expecting big things out of Hunter,” Lotti said.
Junior Blaine Satterfield will anchor the offensive line and speedy running back Isaiah Rowe, a junior, will be relied heavily on as well.
“I’m really looking to see their maturity level now,” Lotti said. “They’ve been in the system for a year and have seen what we’re about and now it’s time to translate that to the field on Friday nights.”
Defensively, the Spartans will continue running a 3-4 with an emphasis on being aggressive. And with nine starters returning, that mentality is now ingrained.
Lotti is looking for sophomore defensive back Tyquan Statham and senior linebacker Eric Camacho, who each earned second-team all-region honors last season, to lead this year’s defense.
Last season, the Spartans allowed 31 points per game, 42 in each of the last two games.
“I’m going to turn them loose both offensively and defensively,” Lotti said. “Depth is a bit of a problem so it’s going to be important for us to stay healthy.
“We’re going to make sure we’re taking care of our own and doing what we do,” he continued. “We’re going to give great effort –- I have no doubt about that –- and see what happens after 48 minutes of doing that.”
Nothing will come easy this season for West Hall, as it begins with the Battle of Oakwood against Johnson and plays two more Class AAAA opponents before opening Region 7-AAA play against Banks County on Sept. 20.
“We’ve been looking forward to that opener for 365 days I guess you could say,” Lotti said, “and playing three quad-A teams is going to give us a good test as we get ready for a tough region schedule.
“Where I came from, I was used to playing in tough regions, but to be honest with you, I think this region is definitely the toughest. I’m more fired up about this season though because we’re building a program, not a team, and we’re embracing that plan. The kids have been working hard and things are starting to come together a little bit for us.”
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