Last season, Lumpkin County took a step in the right direction. The 2010 Indians won six games, marking their first winning season since 2003, but a 38-0 loss to Monroe Area in the region playoff kept Lumpkin County out of the postseason and left the Indians wanting more.
"We want to capitalize on the momentum that we did create last year," Indians coach Tommy Jones said. "Satisfied would not be the right word, but we felt like we made progress and beat some people that we haven't beat in a long time. Unfortunately, we came up a little bit short in terms of making the playoffs, which was one of our ultimate goals. But one of the things that we try to do around here is to continue to get better every year and continue to build. The challenge is to take that and to continue moving forward and take that next step."
In Lumpkin County's triple-option offense, the fullback is the featured position, and the Indians must replace last year's leader of the ground game, Michael Flanagan (594 yards, 13 TDs).
Trevor Eudy is the leading candidate after seeing action at tailback last season. Lee Cagle, who focuses primarily on defense, could also see snaps.
At tailback, versatile threat Ian McIntosh is back after totaling more than 500 yards of offense last season. The speedy McIntosh, who also starts at cornerback and handles kick and punt return duties, has scholarship offers from UNC-Charlotte and Wofford and is being recruited by many others, Jones said.
Logan Moye will be taking snaps at quarterback after starting two games last season while filling in for an injured Taylor Guthrie.
"He's an explosive runner," Jones said. "He really is. He's a hard runner, and he throws the ball well on play action."
Last fall, Moye rushed for 148 yards on 30 carries and completed 9 of 13 pass attempts for 133 yards.
"We feel good about our backfield," Jones said. "All those guys are seniors, and they've all played before."
Fellow seniors Zeb McConnell and Thomas Arrowood return to their starting spots on the offensive line. They'll be joined by juniors Zach Kile, Daniel Horbat and Tyler Flatt, each of whom started two games last season.
Mitchell Stephens and Freddie Beamon are the top candidates at wide receiver after logging time with the junior varsity as sophomores last season.
Stout defense was Lumpkin County's strength early in the 2010 season, but after Cagle, who was starting at linebacker, and star lineman B.J. Dorsey were lost due to injury, the Indians struggled down the stretch. To illustrate: Monroe Area, the same team that dominated Lumpkin County in the region playoff, barely scraped past the Indians for a 10-3 win in the third week of the season.
Nonetheless, Lumpkin posted solid numbers, yielding 238 total yards per game last fall and giving up an average of 17.7 points. Dorsey, at end, and Cagle, at tackle, are back this season to helm the defensive front. Jones also touted Travis Womack's work on the line.
The Indians are breaking in a brand new group at linebacker, led by junior Logan Head (6-2, 190). He'll be joined by Evan Gaddis, John Webber and Eudy.
McIntosh will be the most experienced member of the defensive backfield after notching 36 tackles and three interceptions last season. He'll man one cornerback spot, while Beamon and Kelvin Williams are fighting for the other starting spot.
At safety, sophomore Daniel McCrary and freshman Gunner Woods are pushing for playing time.
After kicking for the junior varsity team last year, junior Chase Slocumb is the leading candidate to replace Taylor Burns (7 of 9 FGs).
McCrary is the leader in an open competition to assume punting duties.
The Indians have solid talent returning in many key positions, but will be leaning on newcomers in others. How quickly the novices get acclimated to Friday night competition could determine if 2011 is the year Lumpkin County takes the next step Jones is looking for.