North Cobb won its first football state playoff game since 1959 on its way to an 11-3 record and an appearance in the Class AAAAAA semifinals last season.
Now the Warriors look to build off the second-most victories in school history and a breakout season by quarterback Tyler Queen to ensure that the next playoff victory drought is a lot shorter than 53 years.
“Success hopefully breeds success,” said North Cobb coach Shane Queen, the quarterback’s father. “Our kids are excited, and they’ve worked hard in the off-season. The last game [a 63-42 loss to state runner-up Lovejoy in the semifinals] made them a little bit hungrier, I think, because we didn’t play our best. But coming into the off-season they’ve done a great job and they’ve worked their tails off. Our seniors last year did a great job of raising the bar of our expectations, and it’s carried over into the off-season.”
Tyler Queen directed an offense that averaged 41 points per game last season and scored at least 41 points in 11 of North Cobb’s 14 games. The Warriors scored 42 points in each of their four playoff games, including the semifinal loss. The quarterback, who will be a junior next season, passed for 2,398 yards and 21 touchdowns in 2012 and was the team’s leading rusher with 918 yards and 19 TDs. He inherited the job as a freshman when injuries sidelined two other quarterbacks.
“He’s still got a lot of things he can work on,” Shane Queen said. “He’s done a great job of working in the weight room, working on his footwork and his speed. He’s done a lot of speed and agility stuff. He’s going to some camps, throwing with the players on the weekend on his own, watching film, and just trying to get better in every facet of the game. That goes with maturity. Hopefully, the game each year will slow down a little bit more for him. I think it did, huge, from his freshman to his sophomore year, and hopefully he’ll make the same improvement this year.”
North Cobb will be without two of its primary offensive weapons – wide receivers Xavier Borishade and Nick Miller – next season. Borishade was a first-team all-state player who had 42 receptions for 842 yards and 10 touchdowns. He signed with Chattanooga. Miller, who had 40 catches for 506 yards and four touchdowns in 2012, signed with Furman.
But the coach’s bigger concern going into spring practice next month will be shoring up a defense that was hit hard by graduation. North Cobb allowed two touchdowns or less in eight games last season and recorded two shutouts.
“We lost nine starters on defense, so we’ve got to find some defensive players,” Shane Queen said. “On the offensive and defensive lines we’ve got to replace four on the offense and all three on the defense. That’s our biggest area of concern. We’ll always have athletes here at North Cobb. We’ve just got to do a good job of developing linemen on both sides of the ball. That’s our main focus in spring practice is finding two deep on both sides of the ball on the offensive and defensive lines.”
North Cobb Warriors
2012 record: 11-3, 6-2 in Region 4-AAAAAA, lost to Lovejoy 63-42 in the Class AAAAAA semifinals.
Starters returning: 4 offense, 3 defense
Key players lost: WR Xavier Borishade, PK A.J. Borduin, LB Shawn Daniels, DL Eghosa Agbonghae, WR Nick Miller, RB/LB Hakeem Sawyer
Key players returning: QB Tyler Queen, DB Cameron Albright, WR/DB Latrell Gibbs, RB J’Vonte Herrod
Spring practice dates: May 6-17
Aug. 30 – Starr’s Mill
Sept. 13 – at Walton
Sept. 20 – at Kennesaw Mountain
Sept. 27 – at Harrison
Oct. 4 – South Cobb
Oct. 11 – at Hillgrove
Oct. 18 – McEachern
Oct. 25 – at Pebblebrook
Nov. 1 – Marietta
Nov. 8 – Campbell
Outlook: North Cobb is almost always a playoff contender in its region, and this year should be no different. Tyler Queen had an outstanding sophomore season, and if he continues to progress he will be among the state’s top dual-threat quarterbacks in 2013. The Warriors have some holes to fill on defense, but that unit will have a solid foundation in a secondary that includes returning standouts Cameron Albright and Latrell Gibbs. Coach Shane Queen said rebuilding the offensive and defensive lines will be the top priority.