The 2020 high school football season was a mixed bag for Drew, depending on how one prefers to look at it.
On the one hand, a final record of 3-7 kept the Titans out of the postseason for the third straight year.
On the other hand, they did manage to take two steps forward in the win column from a 1-9 campaign the year before, and that was during a season in which COVID-19 proved to be a distraction.
But that’s all in the past as far as Steve Robinson is concerned, and he prefers to look to the present and the immediate future rather than back as the 2021 opener approaches Friday at Coffee.
“We understand the challenges that are put before everybody in times past. We understand that,” Robinson said during Clayton County Public School’s Football Media Day late last month at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta. “However, we just continue to move forward and keep pushing forward. We can’t change anything about what was in the past. That’s not what we’re focusing on.”
There are some reasons for Robinson and the Titans to feel good about what’s ahead of them for 2021, starting with an offense that returns several key starters from a year ago, and now has that experience from last year to draw upon.
Leading the way is junior quarterback Josiah Jarrett, who threw for 1,196 yards and seven touchdowns a year ago, and, along with senior receiver Chams Diagne (18-232, 2 TDs receiving) and last year’s rushing leader, junior Hakem Hodges (141-587, 3 TDs), give Drew some potential firepower.
Senior linemen Montrell Henderson and D.J. Hill also return to shore up a line that looks to provide those weapons room to operate a little better this season.
“What we want to do is we want to control the ball and have quality possessions,” Robinson said. “We want to productively possess the football to where we keep the (Drew) defense in position to where they can continue to do what defenses do, and keeping them off the field so that we can continue to try to stay on the offense.”
As much as Robinson would like to keep the Titans’ defense fresh, he has every confidence in what that unit will bring to the table this fall.
Among the returning starters from a year ago are senior middle linebacker Kalen Justice, who led the team with 118 combined tackles and assists and added four sacks, two caused fumbles and two pass break-ups, as well as Henderson, who tied for the team lead with four sacks and six quarterback hurries a year ago from his defensive tackle position.
“I’m really excited about what the defensive group is doing,” Robinson said. “They have a great … defensive coordinator Garry Fisher. Those guys can fly around, and we have a lot of experience coming back on defense.”