Westwood School seniors Reid Carr, Johnny Hendricks, Chason Worsham, Jacques Irvin, Ridge Collins and John Baldwin want to leave their legacy on the program as they lead the Wildcats into their first year in Class AAA. (Staff Photo: Tim Morse)
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CAMILLA — In Ross Worsham’s tenure as the coach of Westwood School, he’s helped guide several teams to state football championships.
• REGION: GISA Region 3-AAA
• 2013 RECORD: 8-3-1; lost in second round of Class AA playoffs
• COACH: Ross Worsham (10th season, 9th as head coach)
• RETURNING STARTERS: C Dru Ford (Jr., 5-11, 180); LG/DL Johnny Hendricks (Sr., 6-1, 200); LT/DL Reid Carr (Sr., 6-0, 210); TE/LB Jacques Irvin (Sr., 6-1, 225); RB/QB/SS Chason Worsham (Sr., 6-0, 200); SE/CB/S Ridge Collins (Sr., 6-4, 185); S/K/P Collier Baggett (Jr., 6-3, 190); CB Reid Ford (So., 5-7, 140)
• TOP NEWCOMERS: OL/DL John Baldwin (Sr., 5-11, 240); OL/DL Ty Cochran (Jr., 6-2, 230)
• 2014 SCHEDULE:
Aug. 22 — at Southwest Georgia
Aug. 28 — Trinity Christian
Sept. 5 — at Crisp Academy
Sept. 13 — Flint River
Sept. 19 — Deerfield-Windsor
Sept. 26 — at Terrell Academy
Oct. 3 — Tiftarea
Oct. 10 — at Valwood
Oct. 17 — at Southland
Oct. 31 — Brookwood
For the Class of 2015, several played integral roles in helping the Wildcats to a state championship in 2011 as freshmen. They finished as state runners-up during their sophomore season before last season’s 8-3-1 campaign.
As the Wildcats move up to Class AAA, the highest classification in the Georgia Independent Schools Association, Worsham said it’s time for this year’s class to leave its legacy.
“They were successful in middle school, and I knew they were going to continue to mature,” Worsham said. “They expect to win, and they know what it takes to win.”
The senior class is small with just six members – Johnny Hendricks, Reid Carr, Jacques Irvin, Chason Worsham, Ridge Collins and John Baldwin. However, Ross Worsham is excited about what the group brings to the team. With their leadership, coupled with a solid group of underclassmen, he expects the Wildcats to be in postseason contention.
Last year’s senior class finished with 45 career victories. The Class of 2015 has accumulated 32. While it may be hard for them to match 45 wins, they want to make their transition into Class AAA a smooth one and contend for championships.
“Now that we’ve got through mini-camp, everybody is starting to feel better about (moving up) and getting more confident,” Baldwin said.
Eight starters, many of whom will play offense and defense, return from last season’s team that advanced to the second round of the Class AA playoffs. There are some key positions that need to be filled, especially at many of the skill positions on offense.
However, a strength will likely be on the interior fronts where four returners are back, including a trio of seniors. Dru Ford returns at center and on the defensive front after a solid sophomore season.
On defense, the secondary should be solid as Chason Worsham, Collins, junior Collier Baggett and sophomore Reid Ford all return.
“There’s holes, but there are also guys who with a little bit of practice, experience and a little bit of time to get their feet wet, they can get step in and handle the positions very well,” Carr said.
“We’re expecting big things out of our team. We have a small team, but a very mature team. We have a bunch of other guys who have playing for three or four years. There’s a lot of experience and we’re ready to make a run.”
But Ross Worsham knows much of the team’s success this fall will hinge on the senior class. They will be expected to lead both on and off the field.
“They’ll have the opportunity to leave their legacy here,” Worsham said. “Then moving up to Class AAA, they’ll have a chance to leave a mark. It’s been fun watching those guys grow and mature during these last several years.”
The Wildcats have a brutal schedule that includes Class AA state runner-up Valwood, as well as traditional Class AAA powers Deerfield-Windsor and Southland, two teams that made deep postseason runs last year.
“Last year, we didn’t make it as far as we wanted to,” Carr said. “We’re expecting to have a better run this year and we’re just going to do what we can to make ourselves better and use the leadership we have.”