Central Gwinnett returns seven starters on offense, including all-county running back Justin Wilkins and quarterback Skylar Adams (pictured), as well as junior Daejon Reynolds, from a team that qualified for the playoffs.
“We’re excited about what we’ve got coming back this year,” head coach Todd Wofford said. “The biggest piece is three returning offensive linemen. Everyone knows, in Gwinnett County, everything starts up front.”
Adams jumped into the starting role last season and threw for 853 yards and nine touchdowns. He enters his senior season as the No. 1 guy.
“Having so many players coming back helps me,” Adams said. “We have a lot of chemistry. Over the spring and summer, we’ve all been working together so it’s really comfortable playing next to guys like Tyan (Milton) and Dre (Sutton). We have so many skilled players. It’s a quarterback’s dream playing with these guys.”
The Black Knights have four returning starters on defense, led by Milton in the secondary, and the summer was a chance for the younger guys to get crucial reps.
“As usual, we have a pretty fast defense,” Wofford said. “One thing that’s been a positive is we’ve gotten a little bigger and stronger up front. In Gwinnett, you’ve got to have some size in order to be able to compete on a regular basis. It’ll be fun to watch them run and hit this year. We have some guys we feel like can do some damage.”
The 7-on-7 and padded camps went well, allowing Central to work on developing that defensive speed.
“I feel like everybody is in the right place,” Milton said. “We just have to do our own jobs. If we do that, correctly, and listen to our coaches, we’re going to be good.”
Having a quick defense also is making the offense better in practice.
“It’s a great environment to be in,” Adams said “We challenge each other.”
They had a eye-opening moment during a workout just recently.
“There’s a lot of speed out there,” Wofford said. “It was a situation where we had some 7-on-7 drills and there was only one pass completed against the defense. That doesn’t really happen on a passing drill.”
Wofford is beginning his 10th season, a span that has seen the resuscitation of the Black Knights.
“The energy has been really, really good,” Wofford said. “It’s kind of cool for me. The older you get, the more ways you have to find to motivate the kids. But it just kind of happened.
“This is going to be Skylar’s first full year starting at quarterback and some of the guys haven’t started but they’ve been a backup the last couple of years. They all get a chance this year. When you have guys competing to get on the field, it makes practices better. It makes kids pay attention and the competition rises up.”
They’ve made the playoffs in four of the last five years, but are looking for more than just postseason qualification.
“Honestly, we were kind of disappointed in last year,” Wofford said. “To go 3-3 in the region might be good for some, but our standard is better than that.
“We want to get past the Sweet 16 and make a true run. That comes after we get Game 1. So we’re focused on South Gwinnett.”