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• CLASS/REGION: GHSA Region 1-AA
• 2013 RECORD: 5-5; missed playoffs
• COACH: Trey Woolf (14th year)
• RETURNING STARTERS: QB Miles Norman (Jr.); RB Tyrek Lyles (Sr.); RB Jay Barley (Jr.); OL Trystin Howard (Sr.); OL Brandon Webb (Sr.); OL Avery Alexander (So.); TE Jeremiah Mincey (Jr.); OL Chanlor Fields (Jr.); DB Fred Means (Jr.); LB Chris James (Jr.); LB Randy Wade (Jr.); DL Jawuan Ofton (Jr.)
• TOP NEWCOMERS: OL Jake Cooper (So.); OL Ladarius Teal (So.); RB Calvin Brown (Jr.); WR Javian Williams (Jr.); WR Jatravian Wiggins (Jr.); DB Cam Hall (Jr.); DB Jay Moses (Jr.); LB Durrell Summerset (Jr.); LB Erik Yarbrough (Jr.); DL Dejuan Booker (Sr.)
• 2014 SCHEDULE:
Aug. 22 — at Irwin County
Aug. 29 — Bainbridge
Sept. 5 — at Miller County
Sept. 19 — at Calhoun County
Sept. 26 — Fitzgerald
Oct. 3 — Seminole County
Oct. 10 — at Berrien
Oct. 17 — at Pelham
Oct. 24 — Brooks County
Nov. 7 — at Thomasville
• EXPERIENCED BOBCATS: Two seasons ago, the Bobcats had their best record in years and marched through the Class AA state playoffs before falling in the quarterfinals to Greater Atlanta Christian in a 27-24 heartbreaker.
Last season, Early County couldn’t duplicate that success and missed the playoffs — but many of those key players who endured an up-and-down 2013 campaign are back and ready to be a force in Region 1-AA.
One of those important returners is linebacker Randy Wade, who has gotten stronger, faster and bigger and is starting to draw some interest from college programs. The 6-foot-1, 230-pound junior played defensive end last year, but Early County coach Trey Woolf is moving him to the middle of the defense.
“Hopefully he can be that guy who we put in the middle of the defense and becomes a really good player for us,” Woolf said. “He’s a big, strong kid, and he can run. He passes the look test. Hopefully he can be that type of player for us this year.”
• MILES AHEAD: Early County quarterback Miles Norman had a respectable junior season last year but was limited in his role as a passer.
It could finally be Norman’s breakout season.
“This year we are expecting more out of him,” Woolf said. “Last year we tried to put him in positions where he could be successful. This year we are going to ask a little more out of him in the throwing game.”
He will have plenty of talented targets, including wideouts Jatravian Wiggins and Javian Williams and tight end Jeremiah Mincey, who started last season.
“Experience-wise, we are a lot further along than last year,” Woolf said. “We are progressing better than last year, and that’s the biggest thing you can ask from these guys. We played really good defense all year (in 2013). The offense kind of struggled, but toward the end of the season we got better offensively. Hopefully we can build on that.”