By Derrick Mahone
For some players, the talent and opportunity is there for a big season. If they struggle, their teams could too. But if they have a breakout season, it could mean good things are in store for their team.
Here are six that could be poised for a breakout season:
Ladarris Mathis, North Clayton
The 5-10, 180 pound sophomore is the starting running back for Eagles.
Last season: As a first-year starter last season, Mathis got plenty of carries. The main workhorse in the offense was Clarence Jackson, so Mathis wasn't in the spotlight as the Eagles reached the Class AAAA quarterfinals.
What is expected: With the graduation of Jackson, Mathis will play a much larger role in the offense.
Stats: In a 28-0 win over Riverdale in week one, Mathis had 127 yards rushing and two touchdowns. He averaged 6.3 yards per carry with a long run of 22 yards.
Ladarris Mathis says: "I'm pretty happy the way the line blocked in our first game. I got a lot of playing time last season as a freshman. I know I have to step it up and become a leader this season."
Chris Moody, Henry County
The 6-1, 160-pound junior has waited his turn to be the starting quarterback for the Warhawks.
Last season: Spent last season as the backup quarterback, but also played a vital role on the defensive side of ball as a member of the Warhawks' secondary.
What is expected: To step in and guide an offense that will concentrate more on the run then in past seasons, but with a strong arm and guys like Stephon Brown to throw the ball to, Moody won't go totally away from the passing game as he showed last week.
Stats: Did a little bit of everything in last week's loss to Ola, finishing 13-of-25 for 168 yards and rushing three times for 56 yards.
Coach Mike Rozier says: Says he will take on the same type of role as Georgia Tech's Joshua Nesbitt. Like Nesbitt, Moody can run the football, but also has the ability to throw.
Leon Prunty, Stockbridge
The 6-2, 205-pound junior directs the Tigers' triple-option attack from the quarterback position. A three-sport athlete who also excels in basketball and baseball.
Last season: Started the last four games of the 2009 season. The Tigers simplified the offense some to take the pressure off Prunty last season.
What is expected: Prunty won't be asked to win games this season, but make plays for the offense, according to the coaching staff. A part-time last season, Prunty has been given the full reigns of the offense. Described as a "smart kid", he probably needs a big season for the Tigers to be success.
Stats: In the team's loss to Stockbridge in the opener, Prunty completed 11 of 21 passes for 132 yards and a touchdown. He rushed for only seven yards on 10 carries while being sacked three times.
Coach Kevin Whitley says: "As most coaches will tell you that if a quarterback is having a good year, then your team has a chance to be successful. We are not putting everything on his shoulders, but a quarterback is sometimes a direct reflection of the team. So far, he has played well for us."
Rayshad Samuel, Lovejoy
A senior running back, he has college offers from Western Kentucky, Western Carolina and Wofford.
Last season: As a junior, he rushed for 513 yards on 92 carries and three touchdowns. He had 10 receptions for 175 yards and a touchdown.
What is expected: Samuel is one of the main weapons in the Wildcats' offensive attach. He will team with Travis Custis to help keep opposing defenses guessing. Despite his size, Samuel is very durable. Coach Al Hughes says that Samuel's size keeps him from being a major college prospect.
Stats: In the Wildcats' win over Mundy's Mill last week, Samuel had 16 carries for 89 yards and a touchdown. He had a long run of 15 yards, and also scored on a two-point conversion run. He had a 5.6 average per carry against Mundy's Mill.
Rayshad Samuel says: "I've good to have a good season. I think I need to have a good year for us to be successful. We have some good linemen that are working real hard."
Austin Smith, Mount Zion
The 6-2, 185-pound senior has good speed with a 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash.
Last season: Was sort of an unknown last season at Forest Park High.
What is expected: A top go-to receiver was the missing element in the Bulldogs offense last season. Coaches are expecting Smith to fill that void this season. He has good size and speed to give the offense another weapon.
Stats: Mount Zion was idle last week.
Coach Jamie Aull says: "It is real important for him to have a good year not only for the team, but for himself. He needs a few highlight tapes to send out to the colleges."
Only a sophomore, he is considered one of the best all-around athletes in the Southern Crescent. He plays on both sides of the ball for the Cardinals at wide receiver and defensive back. He will also see some action at quarterback. Sutton is a three-sport standout in football, basketball and baseball.
Last season: As a freshman, he started at both wide receiver and cornerback.
What is expected: Considered a playmaker when the football is in his hands.
Stats: In the team's 28-25 lost to Tri-Cities, Sutton was all over the field. He had three receptions for 90 yards and a touchdown. On special teams, he had five kickoff returns for 116 yards and a punt return for 24 yards.
Coach Tim Floyd says: "He has a lot of natural ability. He is humble about all his accomplishments. He works hard during the offseason. Cameron just need to get stronger. With his knowledge of the game, when he gets a little bigger and stronger, he will be something special."