Wesleyan Wolves 2011 Football Preview
Norcross Mascot: Wolves. Coach: Franklin Pridgen (48-15 at Wesleyan, 48-15 overall) Region: 5-A Last playoff appearance: 2010
It may seem like a near impossible task to replace eight starters from an offense that averaged 38.6 points per game, including all-time school rushing leader and last year's county rushing leader Kyle Karempelis.
Aug. 26 at Seminole County
Sept. 2 Elbert County
Sept. 9 at Twiggs County
Sept. 16 at Holy Innocents'
Sept. 23 Fellowship Christian
Sept. 30 Pace Academy
Oct. 7 at King's Ridge
Oct. 21 Pinecrest Academy
Oct. 28 at Mt. Pisgah
Nov. 4 Region play-in
2010 results (12-2)
Seminole County W 38-20
at Elbert County W 25-23
Twiggs County W 33-0
Holy Innocents' W 24-10
at Fellowship Christian W 63-6
at Pace Academy W 48-14
King's Ridge W 49-6
at Pinecrest Academy W 50-7
Mt. Pisgah W 41-0
ELCA L 35-28
Warren County W 48-13
at Athens Academy W 35-14
Wilcox County W 45-28
Savannah Christian L 28-13
But head coach Franklin Pridgen has plenty of confidence in a new pack of Wolves ready to hunt for the first time.
"I definitely see the glass half-full," Pridgen said. "I'm really enjoying working with a new group of kids waiting for their turn. We've got a ton of good players nobody knows about that have been playing behind guys like David Andrews, Merritt Hall and Kyle Karempelis. They're kind of like the old Miami Dolphins "4No-Name' defense. It's time for those guys to come in from the light and do well."
Among those whose time has come are sophomore quarterback Will Anderson, who has big shoes to fill replacing the graduated Andrew Frerking and his 2,276 passing yards and 32 TDs.
Meanwhile, senior Zander Yost will see considerably more carries after serving as Karempelis' back-up the past two seasons. Eric Rappe moves into the backfield after starting at tight end last season, and junior Rodney Morris, who had moved into the starting lineup last season, figures to be a primary target, especially with Malachi Jones, last year's receiving leader, having transferred to Central Gwinnett.
But perhaps the biggest unknown for the Wolves may be along the offensive line, which will be considerably smaller than last year's unit, which averaged 250 pounds per man, led by Andrews.
Of more concern is that senior Josh King (5-foot-10, 245 pounds), who moves to center from guard, is the only returning starter.
But again, Pridgen is more than confident the newcomers will rise to the occasion now that they have a chance to play.
"Their strength is fine," Pridgen said. "They just don't have the body weight or mass that jumps out on paper. They're extremely disciplined and very aggressive. I have no concerns about offensive line except experience, but that will come by playing."
Like the offense, the Wesleyan defense will have plenty of new faces, with Yost, Rappe and fellow seniors Jamie Stark and Erik Gossett (pictured) as the only returning starters.
What's more, the Wolves' new 3-4 alignment will move several players to new positions. However, Pridgen is equally enthusiastic about the defensive newcomers who will be getting their first opportunities to stand out, as well as the new 3-4 set.
"We always run a multiple defense," Pridgen said. "We don't run just one front. We started by installing the 3-4, and it's just become base set. We're experimenting with new ways to teach the system. We'll be fine there, as well.
"We've got to overcome some inexperience, but our secondary is going to be fine. Erik Gossett and Zander Yost provide great stability and continuity along with newcomers at safety. Eric Rappe and Zander Yost will both be bell cows of the defense. Josh King has played some at defensive line over the years, but has never been a starter. We'll look at those three guys as our leaders rising to top to carry the mantle of defensive success."
Indeed, the secondary "1 featuring experienced returnees in Yost and Gossett "1 figures to the be the strength of the Wolves' defense, while Rappe and Stark also bring steadiness to the linebacker corps.
Once again, the biggest question mark appears to be along the line of scrimmage, which breaks in three new starters.
Still, Pridgen is most optimistic that the newcomers will come through.
"I am one of those people who thinks you've got to control line of scrimmage," Pridgen said. "I think we can do that. There's not a lot of mass, but these guys are fast, balanced and coordinated and have very good feet. Most important, they're hungry."
Despite losing placekicker Spencer Short, who finished third in the county with 91 points last season, the Wesleyan kicking games will still be in good hands this season "1 or rather, the strong right foot of senior Eric Sunderman.
Sunderman handled kickoffs last season, as well as led all Gwinnett punters with at least 10 kicks with a 38.7-yard average.
And his role will grow even more, as Pridgen also expects to utilize the 5-10, 160-pound senior as a receiver.
"To have a guy like Eric, who can kick off the ball 90 percent off the time into end zone and is a pretty good place kicker "1 he's a reliable weapon," Pridgen said.
Another new face
In addition to a new set and several new faces, the Wesleyan defense will have a new coordinator this season in the form of Cary Marquell.
Marquell, who has college coaching experience at Western Kentucky and Ball State, has been head coach of the Wolves' junior varsity team the past few years.
He will also coach the Wolves' secondary, and replace Brian Krehmeyer, who succeeded longtime coach Mike Shaheen in leading Wesleyan's ultra-successful baseball program.
QB Will Anderson (6-0, 170, Soph.)
TB Zander Yost (5-10, 190, Sr.)
FB Eric Rappe (6-1, 210, Sr.)
WR Rodney Morris (6-3, 200, Jr.)
WR Charles Mack (6-2, 185, Jr.)
TE Mason Colquitt (6-3, 205, Sr.)
RT Alec Raabe (6-4, 210, Sr.)
RG Barry Sutlive (5-9, 190, Sr.)
C Josh King (5-10, 245, Sr.)
LG Fendall Laughlin (6-0, 200, Sr.)
LT Will Moody (6-2, 230, Sr.)
PK Eric Sunderman (5-10, 160, Sr.)
DT Mason Colquitt (6-3, 205, Sr.)
DT Stuart Johnson (6-3, 230, Soph.)
NG Josh King (5-10, 245, Sr.)
OLB Michael Armstrong (6-1, 185, Jr.)
ILB Eric Rappe (6-1, 210, Sr.)
ILB Andrew Farrell (6-0, 190, Sr.)
OLB Jamie Stark (6-4, 190, Sr.)
CB Zander Yost (5-10, 190, Sr.)
CB Erik Gossett (5-10, 180, Sr.)
FS Charles Mack (6-2, 185, Jr.)
SS Rhett Delk (6-0, 170, Jr.)
P Eric Sunderman (5-10, 160, Sr.)
2 Erik Gossett RB/DB 12
3 Eric Sunderman
5 Jahmai Jones WR/LB 9
6 Jaye Rochell WR/DB 11
7 Will Anderson QB 10
8 Rodney Morris WR/DE 11
9 Brandon Moss WR/LB 11
10 Jamie Stark WR/LB 12
11 Christian Stark
13 Sam Carver WR/DB 11
16 Eric Rappe TE/DE 12
18 Charles Mack RB/DB 11
19 Trince Degraffinreaidt
20 Zander Yost WR/DB 12
21 Andrew Farrell RB/DB 12
22 Miles Smith RB/LB 9
23 Conner Woerner RB/LB 11
25 Rhett Delk WR/DB 11
26 David Monte RB/DB 11
27 Matt Macia WR/DB 12
29 Johnny Richards WR/LB 11
33 Brandon Gilliam RB/LB 11
34 Sam McWhorter RB/LB 9
35 Justin Cowart RB/LB 10
42 Pierce Ostwalt TE/LB 11
43 Matt Zimmerman WR/DB 10
44 Heath Middlebrooks WR/DB 10
47 Mason Colquitt TE/DL 12
50 Ben Johnson OL/DL 11
51 Michael McWhinnie OL/DL 12
52 Michael Armstrong OL/DL 11
55 Will Moody OL/DL 12
56 Joshua King OL/DL 12
58 Ryan Brennan OL/DL 10
59 Fendall Laughlin OL/DL 12
62 Barry Sutlive OL/DL 12
65 Alex Raabe OL/DL 12
66 Danny Nocharli OL/DL 11
70 Nicholas Menefee OL/DL 10
72 Stuart Johnson OL/DL 10
77 Hank Masters OL/DL 10