If the Wesleyan Wolves are going to return to the same winning track that led to a 2008 Class A state championship, they’ll have to do so at the line of scrimmage. That’s where their strength lies, as they have four senior lineman returning, led by defensive end Stuart Johnson.
“That’s the heart and soul of our team,” Wolves coach Franklin Pridgen said. “We’ve got a good line coming back and we’re going to rely on them to carry us.”
It will be the line’s job to make life easy for the quarterbacks — Pridgen said he’ll start the season using two, junior Christian Stark and sophomore Drew Aspinwall — who are first-time starters at the position.
In addition to Johnson, Heath Middlebrooks, Hank Masters and Ryan Brennan return as two-way starters on the line.
The Wolves will field a relatively young and inexperienced team while hoping to build on a 2012 season that saw them reach the AA state playoffs. They finished 4-7 last year, their first losing season in 10 years and only the second in the program’s 15-year history.
Despite the setback, marking Wesleyan as an easy win on the schedule might not be a good idea.
“Last year wasn’t a good season for us, but I think we’ll surprise some people,” said Johnson, who has offers from numerous schools including Navy, Air Force and Appalachian State.
“It might be easy to doubt us because we’re young and it could be seen as a rebuilding year, but I think after a couple of games this season, teams will think twice before looking us over.”
Wesleyan opens its season Friday at home against Holy Innocents.
The Wolves will have six games to prepare for their Region 6-AA schedule, which begins Oct. 11 against Hapeville Charter.
Adam Krohn covers all things Class AA football. Have a question or tip? Want to see more coverage of your team? Want to drop a line to compliment how awesome the Class AA beat coverage is? Send Adam a message on Twitter @AdamKrohnAJC and follow him for the latest in Class AA coverage.