By Doug Gorman
Even before Stockbridge first-year head football coach Steven Collins began putting a game plan in place for the upcoming season, he knew his first order of business was changing the mind set of his players.
Collins takes over a program which isn't used to winning. In the last four seasons, the Tigers have posted a 5-35 record.
The Tigers are also indeed of some stability.
"I am the third head coach this group of seniors has played for since they have been here," he said. "This team needs some stability and convincing it can win."
If attitude has anything to do with it, Collins said he believes the Tigers are on the right track.
"Like everybody, we are having to watch the heat," he said. "But the attitude has been great. When we move from station to station nobody is hanging their head. Everything has been very positive."
Several seniors return to both sides of the ball, giving the Tigers plenty of leadership.
At the skilled positions, seniors include quarterback Chris Legette, wide receiver Nick Langley, senior tight end Marin Mills and wide receiver Tony Moses.
Up front, offensive lineman James Longstreet, Taurean Summers and Phillip Gable comeback from their senior year.
Senior experience also returns to the defensive side of the ball as defensive lineman Hillson Barley and Phillip Gable start on the defensive line. In the secondary, Clint Mitchell, Jarvis Hughes and strong safety Alex Coleman comeback for their senior year.
Stockbridge opens its season at home against Dutchtown, one of the two teams it beat last season.
The Tigers then jump up in classification to play Henry County rival Union Grove in week No.-2 of the season.
Stockbridge then faces perhaps its two biggest challenges of the season in the third and fourth week of the season as the they hit the road for a game against defending Class AAAA state champion Warner Robins.
The Tigers return home the following week to play Northside-Warner Robins.
The latter half of the Tigers' schedule also features games against their Region 3-AAAA county rivals.
The Tigers play Henry County Sept. 17, Eagle's Landing, Sept. 30 and Luella Oct. 14.
A year ago, the beat Eagle's Landing, but lost to Henry and Luella.