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Football Preview: GAC Spartans

GAC IN THE NEWS

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PROBABLE STARTERS

Offense

QB Rafe Chapple (6-0, 185, Jr.)

RB Kyle Scales (5-9, 185, Sr.)

FB Trevor Dedecker (6-0, 200, Jr.) or Paul Carothers (6-0, 200, Soph.)

TE Andrew Lewis (6-5, 220, Sr.)

WR Peter Whiteneck (6-0, 180, Sr.)

WR Chris Williams (6-0, 180, Jr.)

or Ross Wood (6-0, 170, Jr.)

LT Andrew Bartolomei (6-4, 240, Sr.)

LG Britt Lee (6-2, 245, Jr.)

C Carson Cox (6-1, 225, Soph.)

RG Connor Crumrine (6-1, 240, Sr.)

RT Daniel Yoon (6-2, 245, Sr.)

PK Brandon Holzgrefe (5-9, 170, Jr.)

Defense

DL Andrew Lewis (6-5, 220, Sr.)

DL Andrew Bartolomei (6-4, 240, Sr.)

DL Ben Lorick (5-8, 190, Sr.) or Corris Crockett (5-8, 190, Sr.)

OLB Chris Williams (6-0, 180, Jr.)

ILB Trevor Dedecker (6-0, 200, Jr.)

ILB Paul Carothers (6-0, 200, Soph.)

OLB David Elrod (6-0, 160, Jr.)

S Ross Wood (6-0, 170, Jr.)

S Jonathan Pickens (5-10, 170, Jr.)

CB Parker Polhill (5-9, 150, Jr.)

CB Darius Slayton (5-11, 160, Soph.)

P Ross Wood (6-0, 170, Jr.)

Offense

First-year GAC head coach Tim Hardy, as he did the past three seasons as Mountain View’s head coach, will coach the quarterbacks and serve as his own offensive coordinator.

The former Wheaton College (Ill.) quarterback got a jump on his duties and a good look at his personnel by starting at GAC on March 1.

“It allowed us to get to know our players right away in after school workouts and things like that,” Hardy said. “I couldn’t have been more pleased in the spring with what we did in 10 days. At the beginning, no one knew the offensive or defensive schemes. At the end of 10 days, it looked like football out there. That’s one thing I like, our kids are intelligent.”

Hardy’s quarterback looks to be Rafe Chapple, whose older brothers Lee, Colton and Jarod all played the position at GAC. The junior has stepped ahead of Jack McLaughlin since senior Delano Spencer gave up football this summer to focus on basketball.

Kyle Scales, an exciting playmaker, is the top running back, but Hardy also is high on fellow senior Corey Stevenson at the position. Peter Whiteneck and Chris Williams will be key players at wide receiver, and tight end Andrew Lewis is an imposing threat at 6-foot-5.

Big Andrew Bartolomei, Britt Lee and Connor Crumrine are among the leaders of the offensive line, which lost Chase Roberts (a Georgia Tech signee) to graduation.

“We’re going to definitely commit to running the football, but we’ll still probably throw the ball more than your average high school team,” Hardy said.

Defense

GAC was solid on defense last season and the same expectation is there this season.

“I think we’re going to be pretty good on defense,” Hardy said.

Bartolomei, at 6-4, 260 pounds, also is a key along the defensive line, where he will line up with Lewis. Trevor Dedecker, Paul Carothers, Chris Williams and David Elrod are the contributors at linebacker, while Ross Wood is the top returner in the secondary. Defensive backs Jonathan Pickens and Parker Polhill also have been solid.

“We’ll be a 3-4 (defense) that will get after you,” Hardy said.

Making a move

Hardy already has experienced some different coaching spots in his short career.

He started out at the college level, coaching at his alma mater, Wheaton, then spent the last three years building a public high school football program, Mountain View, from the ground up. Now he gets his first job with a private high school, one where he figures to stay for a long time.

“Any time you come into a new situation, it’s just new, learning how the school operates and things like that,” Hardy said. “Change is what it is, but it’s been good here. I’m really excited about our young men and their commitment to the program.”

One major difference in the new job — GAC is an established, successful program. Traditions have been in place for years, unlike Mountain View, a brand-new school that allowed Hardy and his staff to create their own traditions.

That said, the coach will put his spin on the GAC program.

“We’re doing some stuff to engage the broader GAC community, getting them to games,” Hardy said. “It’s a Friday night in Georgia. You need to be at a football game. We have a middle school and elementary school on campus, so we’re engaging them about coming to games and making it more of a community feel.”

Etc.

GAC is working on plans for its first-ever, football-only fieldhouse. The new facility will be constructed somewhere adjacent to the football stadium, Hardy said. … The new head coach retained two holdover coaches from the previous staff, defensive coordinator Charles Edwards and offensive line coach Kendall Knight. Edwards, a longtime coach in Florida, was one of Atlanta Braves star Chipper Jones’ high school coaches at Jacksonville (Fla.) Bolles. Past GAC head coach Jimmy Chupp returns to the varsity as running backs coach and Shane Woodward, the defensive backs coach, came with Hardy from Mountain View.

— Will Hammock