ALBANY — After two consecutive years of just missing the state playoffs, Monroe High School’s Ulysses Williams knows something needs to change.
In 2014 and ‘15, the Tornadoes needed to beat Crisp County to make the Georgia High School Association playoffs. Both years, Monroe fell short, losing by nine points in 2014 and by just one last year.
“Getting over that hump, it starts out at the practice field,” Williams said. “We have a chip on our shoulder. We’ve got to work harder. We’ve got to come out fighting and with a different attitude. It starts with practice and we have to come out and dominate in practice.”
Williams is one of Monroe’s returning seniors and is expected to be a leader but his position is undecided. Coach Charles Truitt said that Williams is in a quarterback battle with David Dilliard. If Dilliard is able to take the reins of the offense, Williams will go back to receiver, his natural position and the one that he prefers.
Despite the battle, Williams has put in the extra work with the younger quarterback helping him in every way possible.
“Over the summer, I would tell him to get up with me and do some drills,” Williams said. “I have him throw me the ball and get him to work on some footwork drills. I get him to stay after practice with me just to work on things.”
While Williams is expected to make big contributions, the Tornadoes will have to replace numerous key players. Running back Mark Robinson, who rushed for more than 1,000 yards last year and linebacker Akileis Leroy, who had more than 100 tackles, are both at Lee County.
On defense, the Tornadoes are expected to be led by defensive backs Adrian Rawls and Demario Curry and tackles Warren Breakfield and Lavorick Welch. The linebackers will be anchored by Theodore Harrold.
“Our defensive front should be really good,” Truitt said. “Our front four guys and our linebacker should be good. We feel like we should be able to hold our own.”
The Tornadoes’ offensive line is also expected to be a strength and will be anchored by Courtney Perkins and Eric Seay.
Monroe will play this year in Class 3A along with Cook, Crisp County, Dougherty and Worth County.
“The competition is still there,” Truitt said. “It is going to be a good region. We feel good, but we told the kids that it is not going to be easy. We lost a lot of good seniors from last year’s team. We will have to play well week in and week out.”
The Tornadoes will open the season on Aug. 27 with a home game against Westover. They start region play on Oct. 8 with a game against Dougherty.
If Monroe wants to get over the hump, they know how important it is to forget about the previous two years.
“We can’t sit around and mope about what happened in the past years,” Harrold said. “We’ve just got to look forward and look at getting better.”
• REGION: GHSA Region 1-3A
• 2015 RECORD: 6-4
• COACH: Charles Truitt (13th season)
• RETURNING STARTERS: WR/QB Ulysses Williams (Sr.); LB Theodore Harrold (Sr.); DB Adrian Rawls (Sr.); DT Warren Breakfield (Jr.); DT/OL Lavorick Welch (Jr.); OL Courtney Perkins (Jr.); OL Eric Seay (Sr.)
• 2016 SCHEDULE:
Aug. 27 — Westover
Sept. 1— Thomasville
Sept. 9 — at Thomas County Central
Sept. 16 — at Albany
Sept. 23 — Brooks County
Oct. 8 — at Dougherty
Oct. 14 — at Crisp County
Oct. 28 — Worth County
Nov. 4 — Cook