Photos by Derrick Mahone
Drew senior Jay Murray will start his second season as the Titans quarterback. He will have several new receivers to throw to after graduation depleted the Titans’ receiving corps.
Drew is in Phase Four of its building plan, and coach Jarrett Laws is expecting some big accomplishments this season.
“We told the kids that Year One was for learning,” Laws said. “We said that Year Two we wanted to be competitive. In Year Three we wanted to make the playoffs. This year is the one we want to make a statement. When people mention great football teams around the metro area, we want to be in that conversation.”
In order for that to happen, the four-year program will have to go beyond a first round playoff appearance.
Drew moves into Class AAAAA after playing the last two in AAA. The Titans, who lost in the first round of the playoffs at Burke County last season, return seven starters on both sides of the ball.
The most notable losses have been with its speedy skill position players, including last season’s leading rusher Jadarius West, who rushed for 915 yards and 17 touchdowns. Also gone are both mammoth tackles Antonio Garcia and Eric Ansley, who both signed college scholarships.
“We are not going to be as fast as we were in the past,” Laws said. “It is going to be a collective effort by everyone.”
Jay Murray is back after starting his first full season at quarterback. The senior threw for 1,370 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Laws has turned the offense over to Jamie Aull, the former coach at Mount Zion. The two worked together when Laws was the head coach at Mount Zion for the three years prior to starting the Drew program in 2009.
Aull brought over his former college teammate and Mount Zion offensive coordinator Maurice Dixon to help assist with the offensive line.
“Having Jamie on the staff is a big plus,” Laws said.
This year’s senior class, the second in school history, is the first to have entered high school at Drew as a freshman. Laws believes that will be a significant factor for motivation and pride with his senior class.
“These guys have a personal stake in this season,” Laws said. “They are family. This is their school.”
“Drew is the only high school that we have known,” he said. “We built this school. Drew is definitely in our hearts.”
With a lot of young talent at the skill positions, Murray believes that he has to be even more of a leader this season.
“We have some good guys returning,” he said. “It is my job to help try to lead this team back to state. We got some real good chemistry among the team. I know we can do it. We have some talent on the team. We have some young guys, but they are teachable.”
Drew at a glance
Last year: 7-4
Summer progress: The team spent a lot of time working on its secondary, which was depleted by graduation. Defensive backs Jadarius West and Bradley Street are gone, but coach Jarrett Laws said there is some young talent. The secondary probably will not be as fast, so Laws said good technique will be a must this season.
Work to do: Rebuilding the offensive line was a must after the graduation of both starting tackles. Laws feels the team has made progress in that department. The coach says the team has to play ‘perfect football’ because it will not be as fast as it has been in the past.
Emerging player: Harvey Salley. The senior will likely start at free safety this season. The last three years, he has been on the special teams with some spot duty in the secondary. He was recently named a captain in the secondary.