By Derrick Mahone
Some days Jarrett Laws feels as if he is coaching a Super Bowl championship team, but then there are those days when the Drew coach realizes he is in the second year of building a program from scratch.
Such is life for a program that is yet to have a senior class.
"It just depends on what day it is, because we can look like a Super Bowl contender one day, and the next day we couldn't compete in the Riverdale Little League," Laws quipped. "It is never a boring moment around here."
Laws has no regrets leaving playoff contender Mount Zion to build the Drew program from the ground.
"None," he said. "How often do you get to raise a program from ground up. With us being so young, you have to coach the kids. We are doing a lot of teaching with these young kids."
Laws decided not to field a freshmen team this season and has limited his numbers to 60 players. He said that is a more manageable number.
"We wanted the freshmen to concentrate on school," Laws said. "We like the small numbers so we can manage our problems. As the program grows, we will grow our numbers."
For now, the team is concentrating on playing its first 10-game regular season schedule, which includes playing in Region 4-AAA. The Titans open the season on the road at Cairo, the 2008 Class AAA champions before a non-region game against Columbia. Sandy Creek, the defending Class AAAA champion has moved into the region this season.
"We are everybody's homecoming game," Laws joked.
Last season, the Titans were 1-5 against several other first-year programs. It long win came against Arabia Mountain in Lithonia. Drew lost to another first-year Southern Crescent team Locust Grove twice last season.
Now, the Titans must quickly adjust to playing a full varsity schedule without a senior class. Junior Rasha Bennett will take over the starting quarterback job in Laws' multiple spread offense.
"My biggest concern will be can we sustain an offensive drive," Laws said. "The kids are giving a daily effort. We are starting to simulate a varsity team. Through this process, I think we are growing everyday.
'Rasha is learning. We are putting a lot on his shoulders. He has to get good in a hurry."
One thing the team won't lack is speed. All four members of the school's first 400-meters relay team that won the Clayton County Championship last spring. The foursome of Jadarius West, Devon Miller, Bradley Street and Tim Barnes gives the team some speed on defense.
"We are going to try and maximize the speed," Laws said. "We are going to force team to try and chance us on offense. We definitely want to put the kids in a position to win at the end of the game. We will try to do things to make us successful."
Success, however, will not always be measured in terms of wins and losses. Navigating through a tough region schedule with no seniors will take some work. With no seniors, Laws admits that leadership is sometimes lacking.
"We are still learning to be leaders," he said. "We have a couple kids that are trying to step up, but sometimes we are the blind leading the blind. We are know running a varsity system. We need some kids to step up.
"We have a lot of enthusiasm, which I'm happy to see. The kids are very optimistic about the season. I think a few of the juniors are beginning to see the end of the tunnel and are preparing to step up."