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He’s cool under pressure and an accomplished head coach, but Jonathan Gess always follows one simple guideline or principle: to maintain the team.

McDONOUGH — Where many teams took time out to get their preseason scrimmage out of the way and set a tone for their final week of preseason practice, state championship program Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy took a different route.

With a program that’s set the tone in Class A-Private with four straight state titles and a tradition to drool over, head coach Jonathan Gess hasn’t changed much for 2019. The Chargers began their work at the start of August, a simple timeframe of two weeks to get a program ready for the season. There was no film study either that went into the past week following their opponents’ scrimmages.

“I didn’t watch anybody’s scrimmage,” Gess said. “We always practice for two weeks and then scrimmage so that’s the way we do that. Some people, scrimmage and want two weeks to prepare for an opponent but we’re excited to scrimmage this week.”

There will be some things to watch out for though in this weeks scrimmage. It’s known that the Chargers had to search for a new quarterback but there are more positions open than just the signal caller role. Gess believes his offensive line will be as loaded as ever behind Bryson Estes and Sherick Rhodes.

The running back corps is, of course, led by Keaton Mitchell with the wide receivers being led by Justin Robinson and Devon Dorsey. Their slot receiver position is also back with Josh Rogers tasked to take over the position leaving Gess with a lot of good vibes on the offensive side.

It’s the defensive side of the ball that may be under a closer magnifying glass. Outside of the front three returning and led by Marquis Black, the Chargers are strong in the secondary. So the group that is under the eyes of Gess and company would be the linebackers, five of them to be exact.

“What we’re replacing are five guys,” Gess said. “We’re just looking to go out there play and hit against somebody else and just start the process. You get better after every single game that you play.”

Once the whistle blows at the end of the Friday night scrimmage the Chargers have set up, the talk of the expectations surrounding them will begin to swirl once again. It’s something that comes with the territory of winning a state title, or in ELCA’s case, four of them in a row.

Gess says that the biggest battle his program faces is right now.

“The kids might think one way or the other but to me, the battle that we have this week is right now,” Gess said.

“I don’t think about winning on Friday night or how the season is going to go, I just think about this day here and we have to get better today. If you get better each day, you’ll become your best no matter what that is and if it’s a state champion then it is, if it’s not then it’s not. The goal is just to maximize your ability and get better each day.”

Sports Editor

Graduated from South Carolina State University in 2015. Been with the Henry Herald and Clayton News in two capacities as a sports journalist and interim sports editor.

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