Photo by Brian Paglia
New Creation’s offensive line should be its biggest strength with four seniors and one junior on the unit. “We like our starting offensive line,” Crusaders coach Jonathan Brown said.
The New Creation football team can’t take the heartbreak anymore.
They’re tired of coming one yard short, done with needing just one crisp pass or one dynamic run to make the state championship.
“It’s been very aggravating,” said Crusaders senior Conner Brown, the son of head coach Jonathan Brown.
It’s been all New Creation can think about since losing a second straight season in the semifinals of the Independent Christian Schools of Georgia and Alabama playoffs.
Last season, it ended with the Crusaders inside the 10 yard line going for the go-ahead score.
The season before, it ended at the half-inch line with a chance to take the lead.
No more, said the Crusaders, and they came up with whatever slogans they needed for inspiration. “One More Yard” to remind them of that 2010 loss. “Four More and Score” to emphasize that at least four yards of offense on every play keeps the first-down marker moving and the scoreboard in their favor.
“This year we’re focusing,” senior Spencer Rush said. “No matter what we’re doing we’re giving it our all.”
That was evident this summer. The small, private Christian school in McDonough goes 25 strong on its roster; 17 came for every summer workout.
ROAD TO KICKOFF
The Clayton News Daily and Henry Daily Herald are counting down the days until our high school football special section comes out on August 24 by taking a look at all 21 area high school football teams.
New Creation at a glance
Last year: 10-1
Summer progress: A team heavy with seniors probably made more progress in the weight room than anywhere else. Of the team’s 25 players, 17 made every summer workout, which made for the best off-season participation since head coach Jonathan Brown took over.
Work to do: For a program like the Crusaders, depth will always be an issue. With just 25 players, the gap between the starters and back-ups is significant, so New Creation is trying to get that unit ready for contribute.
Emerging player: Wide receiver Nicholas Wells is lanky, but tall. At 6-foot-3, the sophomore has good hands and looks the part of a college prospect.
“Our off-season program was tremendous this year,” Jonathan Brown said.
That was the vision Brown had when he took over the program in 2009. Then, the Crusaders played in the CSAA and Brown led New Creation to a 9-1 record and the state championship. But since moving into the ICSGA, the Crusaders haven’t been able to get back.
Meanwhile, Brown had work to do on the program itself. New Creation needed a weight room, so he converted a storage area underneath the football stadium with used equipment from Ola High School and donations from the community. The Crusaders needed a locker room, so he got a trailer unit and installed lockers and a coach’s office.
Meanwhile, New Creation looked for progress on the field. It made some, going 7-5 in 2010 and 10-1 last season.
“I think we’ve come a long way in two years,” Conner Brown said. “I think we’ve got that extra push to win.”
New Creation also has a significant group of seniors for the first time during Jonathan Brown’s tenure. Of the 25-man roster, 11 are seniors, a group that’s been groomed and melded through Brown’s program.
“This is the first time we’ve ever had a group that’s been here and gone through the whole program,” Jonathan Brown said. “Based on what we did last year when they were all juniors I look for some good things to come out of it.”
New Creation’s senior leadership is no more apparent than on the offensive line, where four seniors and one junior make for what Jonathan Brown considers to be the team’s strength. It’s led by Brown’s son, Conner, a four-year starter, three-year starter D.J. Brack, two-year starter Dan Camp, Spencer Rush and Camp’s brother, Ben.
“We like our starting offensive line,” Jonathan Brown said. “That’s definitely going to be our strong point.”
But there’s a talented surrounding cast to block for.
Running back Zac Godwin returns after rushing for over 1,400 yards. Rush contributes at fullback, wide receiver and quarterback. B.J. Cash also gets time at quarterback.
Brown said sophomore tight end and wide receiver Nicholas Wells, a tall, lanky target, could “be the biggest thing that ever signs out of here.”
“I think all the pieces are coming together,” Rush said.