Warner Robins has won 20 games the past two years, including making a state semifinal appearance in 2011.
Seven starters return on offense in 2013 for Warner Robins, which went 9-3 last year. The difference between a good year and an extraordinary one was slight; all three losses were by 10 points or less.
The Demons scored more than 30 points seven times last year, when they topped 40 four times and 50 twice, and among those returning starters are
It follows that making the playoffs would be the minimum expectation, and the Demons appear to have the firepower to make that happen.
QB Caden Johnston (831 yards passing, 236 rushing) and leading rusher Danny Hite Jr. (1,141 yard rushing) return, as does 6-foot-3, 305-lb. lineman Jermaine Abron, probably the highest-profile recruit on the team.
Way, who has compiled a 68-37-1 record in nine seasons. “At the end of the year last year he did a good job running for us. He got hurt in the playoffs and that hurt us a little bit.”
The biggest loss on the offensive side of the ball is RB/WR Deanthony Mack, who as a senior last fall rushed for 657 yards and four touchdowns while catching 23 passes for 400 yards and six TDs. Mack was the team’s leading receiver and second-leading rusher.
Even so, with Johnston back, perhaps the passing attack will be expanded.
“It’ll depend on how our receivers develop,” Way said. “We’re not averse to throwing the ball, but we want to catch it and do something with it.”
While replacing Mack looks to be the biggest challenge on offense, the defense faces multiple challenges, though depth at running back gives him the luxury of using players both ways without as much risk of wearing them out.
“We just want to make sure we’ve got the best 11 players on the field,” Way said.
Warner Robins runs a 3-5-3 scheme, an unusual way to line up, but one Way says adapts well to defending variations on the wing-T offenses run by many schools now.
“With all the things you see in the spread offense that it’s a little bit easier to make adjustments,” Way said.
One of the focal points of spring practice will be to settle on the right players in the secondary, where CB Dyvonte Collins returns. The two other spots, including one vacated by all-state CB Rod Harris, will be up for grabs.
Warner Robins Demons
2012 record: 9-3, 6-1 Region 2-AAAAA, lost to Harris County in the state playoffs second round
Starters returning: 7 offense; 4 defense
Key players lost: WR/DB DeAnthony Mack, OL Brian Cornish, OL Brock Harrell, OLB Kyle Priser, CB Rod Harris.
Key players returning: OL/DL Jermaine Abron, RB Danny Hite, Jr., QB Caden Johnston, CB Dyvonte Collins, RB Reggie Gordon Jacquan.
Spring practice dates: May 1-16
Schedule: Aug. 30 at Veterans, Sept. 13 Peach County, Sept. 20 Douglas County, Sept. 27 at Evans, Oct. 4 at Jones County, Oct. 11 Greenbrier, Oct. 18 at Houston County, Oct. 25 Grovetown, Nov. 1 Northside-Warner Robins, Nov. 8 at Lakeside-Evans.
Outlook: The Demons return a lot of weapons from an offense that scored 34.5 points per game in 2012, so the firepower should be there for another playoff appearance.