DAWSON -- Tray Stephens has been to the first round of the playoffs and no further.
It's time, Stephens said, for Terrell County to take the next step.
And if he can break a school record in the process, so be it.
The Greenwave have improved in recent years under head coach William Huff, posting winning seasons four of the last five seasons with three playoff appearances -- although all were first-round exits.
Like Stephens, Huff wants continued advancement of the program.
"We've got to continue to progress," Huff said. "We cannot go backwards."
Stephens is expected to be one of the playmakers in GHSA Region 1-A on offense and, especially, defense. He posted 61 tackles as a junior last year and picked off nine passes, with multiple interceptions in three games. The school record is 11 interceptions in one season, and the 6-foot-2, 175-pound ball hawk said he'll be gunning for it this season.
"When they put the ball in the air, I just go get it," Stephens said.
Sounds easy enough, but opposing offenses will no doubt be more aware of his presence this year. On offense, Huff said there's no doubt Stephens will touch the ball as often as possible at receiver.
"He has solid hands," the coach said. "We feel like he can extend some drives and make crucial catches."
In the Greenwave's Wing-T, a run-oriented offense, Stephens set a more modest goal of 20 catches. Junior fullback Basheer Rogers chimed in with his own goal of 1,000 yards rushing. Rogers ran for more than 500 as a sophomore and that goal could be within his reach behind a strong offensive line led by three-year starters Terrence Moon, Jr. (center), Adrian Garner (right tackle) and Malik Ponder (left guard).
"(Rogers) has gotten stronger and he's gotten faster," Huff said. "He and (quarterback Jerkerious) Scott really make the offense go."
Wing backs Alvin Brown and Jacoby Calloway will also benefit in the running game, but for it all to work sophomore Jerkerious Scott will have to manage the offense wisely in his first year as a full-time starter at quarterback.
"We're pretty confident in (Scott)," Huff said. "He took over near the end of last season, but we're not asking him to do anything that he can't excel at."
Terrell County's defensive line will be a strength thanks to returning starters Tim Dennard, Gary Pittman and Garner. It'll have to be in order to stop the explosive running games of region foes Miller Co., Seminole Co. and Randolph-Clay, along with newcomer Mitchell County, which dropped down from Class AA.
"I feel like we have a fighting chance in this region," Huff said.
Outside linebackers Dekoven Ware and Terrence Beauford also return to bolster the Greenwave's 5-2 defense.
Terrell County gets Seminole and Miller in the first month of the season, along with non-region neighbor Monroe in the opener Friday. The Greenwave, who can't afford injuries with limited numbers, will likely find themselves in the driver's seat or in a hole after the first half of the season.
"We've got to have some good things happen early," Huff said.
If those good things do happen early, Terrell could be playing later in the season than ever.