The Generals must replace both their starting quarterback and starting running back from last year’s playoff team, but second-year head coach Tino Ierulli isn’t the least bit worried about their replacements.
At quarterback, sophomore Isaiah Mideau is locked in a battle with Druid Hills transfer Sterling Knowles, a junior who started a lot of games for the Red Devils last season.
While Ierulli thinks Knowles has a slightly stronger arm, Mideau’s speed and athleticism hasn’t made it easy picking a starter for the Generals’ first game.
“Mideau is a dual-threat kid,” Ierulli said. “He has good athleticism. He can run the ball well and throw the ball well. I think they both have very good arms and they’re both looking pretty good in camp right now.”
At running back, Nas Stroud, Robert Shumake and David Hendrix are all poised for big seasons out of the backfield. The trio has big shoes to fill after losing Arthur Rodgers and his 1,298 rushing yards to graduation.
“They have the potential to be just as explosive as last year,” Ierulli said. “(Rodgers) is a huge loss for us, but Shumake and Nas did a very good job when they got in the game. Picking up Hendrix was huge for us. All three of them have looked really good in camp.”
At receiver, Ierulli expects Antonio Meeks to lead the way after catching 14 passes for 305 yards last season. Xavier Wright, Jordan Mitchell, Myles Smith and Christion Barker will also line up at receiver for the Generals.
On the offensive line, the Generals will return Christian Culbreth, as well as Ahmand Tate, who both started last season. James Adams is slated to start at center while Elijah Johnson will start at one of the tackle positions.
The Generals will have a good mix of youth and experience on defense this season.
Ladanian Smith returns to his defensive end position after posting four sacks last season. Culbreth is expected to play both ways and line up at noseguard, too.
At linebacker, standout Isaac Prince is back for his junior season after finishing last season with 75 tackles and three sacks. He will be joined by Ryan Green, who played sparingly last season and Ahmad Edwards, who starred at St. Edward in Ohio last season.
Meeks will return for the Generals in the secondary, as will Montae Boyd, who led the Generals in interceptions last season with four.
“The kids are hungry,” Ierulli said. “They have a lot to prove to themselves and they know that. We have a set of leaders that have really been stressing that and holding kids accountable. I’m excited to see what we do this year. We definitely have some talent.”
The Generals have dropped down one classification to Class AAAAAA, but were not shown any mercy with their new region opponents. Having competed in one of, if not the toughest Class AAAAAAA region for the past several years, the Generals will now compete out of Region 8-AAAAAA. The region will include fellow Gwinnett opponents Buford, Dacula, Lanier and Central Gwinnett, as well as Winder-Barrow and Habersham Central. “It wasn’t a break by any means, that’s for sure,” Ierulli said about the new region. “We played a lot of playoff teams last year. We competed very well with them for most of those games. A lack of depth last year really wore down on us. That’s one thing that we’ve tried to work on. The schedule we have this year is almost like a mirror of last year’s. We have 6-7 playoff teams that are on the schedule. It’s not an easy (schedule).” ... Ierulli made a slam dunk hire on defense adding defensive backs coach Erik McMillan, a former NFL All-Pro defensive back for the New York Jets. McMillan most recently served as the defensive backs coach at Eastside High School in Covington. “We brought him in and he’s done a great job with that secondary alongside our cornerbacks coach,” Ierulli said. “You can already tell a huge difference in their play from last year. The kids love him. He’s definitely an educator on the football field. He’s teaching those young kids the technicality of their position. He’s a huge pickup for us.” ... Ierulli earned Daily Post Coach of the Year honors in 2019 after taking Shiloh to its first state playoff berth since 2003.
— By Colin Hubbard