Photos by Derrick Mahone
Junior quarterback Jay Murray will step into the starting role this season at Drew. He has only one career start on the varsity level.
By Derrick Mahone
This is the season that Drew has been waiting on since the school opened three years ago.
The Titans will have their first senior class after playing the last two with underclassmen. Last season, its first on the varsity level, Drew went 2-8 overall and 2-6 in Region 4-AAA.
One of the wins came against a ranked Eastside team on the road.
"We blindly won that game," said Drew coach Jarrett Laws, who has built the team from scratch. "We really didn't know what success was.
We never were really able to put it together the rest of the season."
After that surprising win over Eastside, the Titans defeated a winless Eagle's Landing squad the final week. They appeared to have some momentum heading into the final three games with a chance at possibly getting into the playoffs.
However, a three-game losing streak to Jackson, Henry County and Locust Grove sent the Titans packing at the conclusion of the regular season.
Being another year wiser and experienced, Laws is excited to see what his first senior class at the school will be able to accomplish.
"The kids have gone from not knowing what to do, into now recognizing certain scenarios that take place on the field," Laws said. "I think if they choose to compete, we will be in good shape. Every day, they are learning what it takes to win on the field."
The biggest concern for Laws, a former head coach at nearby Mount Zion, is will his team fight or flee when faced with on-field adversity?
"They have to realize that we are in a schoolyard fight in every game," Laws said. "What will we do when we are punched in the mouth? Last year, we didn't fight back. This year, we have to learn to punch back."
Aside from its tough region schedule that includes two-time defending state champion Sandy Creek at the Georgia Dome, the Titans will host Episcopal of Florida in a Georgia vs. Florida Showcase Game at Tara Stadium. Drew opens again on the road at Cairo, a traditional playoff contender from South Georgia.
"We are going to be tested," Laws said.
But the players contend they are ready for the season.
"We have been together as a team the last three years," said senior tackle Antonio Garcia. "We are ready to reap the benefits of our hard work."
The team returns 20 starters from the previous two years, but the one loss on offense was big. Junior quarterback Berry Mayes decided not to return this season to pursue basketball full-time.
As a sophomore, the 6-foot-4 Mayes threw for 721 yards and rushed for 380 more in leading the Titans' spread offense.
Junior Jay Murray will now inherit the starting position. He has started one game in his career, but has won the confidence of his teammates over the summer.
"He has been looking good during the summer," said senior wide receiver/defensive back Jadarius West, who has scholarship offers from Kentucky and South Carolina.
"We have a lot of confidence that he can lead this team," West continued. "The biggest difference is that Jay is just shorter than Berry. It is just a height difference."
"Jay knows how to manage a game," Laws said. "He has gotten a lot of reps in over the summer."