Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Dacula quarterback Brandon Goodson chats with his teammates during a passing league competition against Collins Hill at Collins Hill High School on June 12.
Dacula quarterback Brandon Goodson dropped back and lofted a tight spiral down the field during a Gwinnett Passing League practice. Waiting behind the secondary in the end zone was a wide open Marcus Cox.
"Good play, good play," Dacula head coach Jared Zito yelled out.
It's a scenario Zito hopes to see a lot more this season. With the graduation of Daily Post Offensive Player of the Year Rocky Capobianco, Zito is relying on Goodson and Cox to lead the Falcons' attack.
"We lost a big part of our offense, but we're trying to pick it up," Goodson said. "The team is coming together. We're just going to have to step it up."
Capobianco, who signed with Division II West Georgia, accounted for more than 60 percent of Dacula's offense last year. He led the county in rushing with 1,503 yards as a quarterback/running back and had 13 touchdowns. When Dacula needed a big play on offense, it was usually Capobianco who delivered. Now it's up to Goodson and Cox to take over that responsibility.
"We'll probably be more diverse in terms of spreading the ball around," Zito said. "We have a few more people we feel like we can do that with."
Goodson split time at quarterback last year with Capobianco. In his first year as a starter, it allowed him to pick up the offense at an easier pace.
"With me being a first-year guy, it took a lot of pressure off," Goodson said. "I could learn the offense. Once we got in a groove of things, it helped me learn the offense better."
Goodson, who has picked up a college scholarship offer, threw for 1,171 yards with 12 touchdowns and six interceptions last year.
As the full-time starter this year, Goodson is ready to lead the team with Cox.
"He's been tremendous. We always knew he could throw it, he has the talent," Zito said. "What we saw from him last year was his poise and learning how to play in this league. He evolved into that. He's so smart with our offense. He can call out all of the stuff. It's like having another coach out on the field."
Cox, who has nine scholarship offers, will play a role similar to Capobianco's last year, lining up at running back, slot receiver and Wildcat quarterback.
"We feel like he's a guy that's a lot like Rocky in terms of he can do a lot," Zito said. "He's very smooth. He seems to make very hard stuff look easy."
Cox had 1,333 yards of offense last year, rushing for 783 yards and 12 TDs. He also was the team's leading receiver with 503 yards and 5 TDs.
"You really don't realize how productive he was because Rocky had that glaring 1,500 yards on the ground," Zito said. "Marcus had a bulk of the offense in a different way."
Now it will be best friend and longtime teammate Goodson getting Cox the ball. The two grew up playing football together in the Gwinnett Football League since the sixth grade.
"We've been playing together since we were little so we know each other like our DNA almost," Goodson said.
Dacula was 9-4 last year and reached the state quarterfinals for the first time since 2005. The Falcons graduated 30 seniors and nearly their entire starting lineup is gone. Goodson and Cox are some of the only starters back, leaving Zito to rely on them for success.
"It's going to be me and Brandon leading, but it's going to be everyone contributing," Cox said. "We're a playoff team all the way. Even though we're young, I feel we have the leadership to bring these young guys up and make the playoffs."
THE GOODSON FILE
Who: Brandon Goodson
Favorite sports team: Alabama Crimson Tide
Dream job: Professional athlete
Favorite TV show: "Ridiculousness"
• Threw for 1,171 yards, 12 touchdowns and six interceptions last year-- Has a scholarship offer from Tennessee State
• Maintains 3.3 GPA
• Plays guard on the basketball team
THE COX FILE
Who: Marcus Cox
Favorite sports team: Miami Heat
Dream job: Professional athlete
Favorite TV show: "White Collar"
• Rushed for 783 yards and 12 TDs and was the team's leading receiver with 503 yards and 5 TDs last year
• Has scholarship offers from South Alabama, Middle Tennessee, Buffalo, Liberty, Tennessee St., UNC-Charlotte, Ohio University, Miami (Ohio)
• Maintains 2.9 GPA