In 2009 the team did not win a game under their former coach. Last season the Warriors picked up two wins under new coach Chance Hicks.
“Our last three seasons have been a roller coaster ride,” Hicks said.
Hicks says one of primary reasons for the decline after ’08 is the lack of a recreation department where the kids can play before the middle school level.
“Sonoraville has the rec center on their side of the county and Calhoun has the city rec,” said Hicks “Our kids from Plainville, Resaca and Sugar Valley don’t have any recreational facilities.”
“Last year about 75-percent of our players had never played recreational football before,” Hicks added.
Despite the major pitfall, football is growing at Ashworth, which added 25 more kids to its roster from last year, putting their total number on the team at 72. That is more than Gordon Central currently has on their team.
There are so many kids trying out that the team has run out of equipment and had to put in an order for more thanks to private donations from parents and others in the community.
This year Hicks will get a team with more experience but is still young.
For his young team, the coach has one goal.
“All I want them to do is be competitive,” Hicks said. “We want to compete and leave the field better than we stepped on it every day.”
Hicks expects several sixth graders to start this season and that includes at some primary positions.
Leading the sixth grade class will be quarterback Tijai Whatley. Whatley is the younger brother of Gordon Central’s Lakai Whatley, who is also a standout on the gridiron and the wrestling mat.
“He has really caught on and has a great understanding of the offense,” said Hicks. “He is very athletic and exhibits a lot of leadership skills.”
“He is very outspoken on the field and a lot of the older players respond to him because of his character, his work ethic, and his ability,” Hicks added. “He is a dual threat quarter back and if there was a third threat he would probably be that as well.”
With a large group of sixth graders, Hicks will need veteran leadership on the team and for that he did not hesitate when naming eighth grader Dustin Meadows.
Meadows will play both sides of the ball for the Warriors. On offense he will lead the line and get the job done. Hicks considers him his cowbell on offense. On defensive Meadows will start as linebacker where he will help instruct the players on the field.
“He is a great player but even a better kid,” said Hicks. “He is bright and when he speaks kids listen.”
Ashworth will also get a transfer student to fill their running back needs. Shyheim Williams, an eighth grader, will take over the position after moving from Adairsville.
“Due to injuries, he is taking the majority of the snaps right now,” said Hicks. “He has been a nice surprise and runs the zone very well. He is also a great blocker.”
Cross Langley will be another standout eighth grader on this year’s team. He will play guard.
“We are going to ask him to double-team a lot this year,” said Hicks. “He is one of our more physical kids.”
Langley, Meadows, lead a group of eighth grade offensive linemen that also include Noah Hunt and JJ Winston. All four were recently named captains of the team. They were selected by their peers.
With a strong group of leaders and more players than ever, the 2011 season could be a positive one for the Warriors and the future could be even brighter.