CONYERS - In Chad Frazier's first season as football coach at Heritage, the Patriots improved one game, posting a 3-7 record this fall after going 2-8 last season.
Heritage had an identical Region 8-AAAA South subregion record this season at 1-4 as it did last year. But this year, the Patriots' 24-20 victory over Alcovy gave them a shot at a state playoff berth.
Sometimes a team's record doesn't tell the whole story.
"We had an excellent group of kids that were determined each week to go out there and compete," Frazier said.
Competing is something the Patriots did every game this fall. In 2006, Heritage lost five-games by 11 or more points, including four by 26 or more.
This year, Heritage lost only once by more than 20 points, and that was a 28-0 setback to Habersham Central in the Region 8-AAAA playoffs. In fact, the Patriots' four subregion losses were by a total of 25 points.
On offense, Heritage will lose two of its biggest playmakers to graduation - QB Kenny Seabolt and wide receiver/returner Mikel Hunter. Seabolt passed for almost 1,500 yards and 15 touchdowns, while Hunter had a team-high 30 catches for 657 yards and scored 11 total touchdowns.
Other key losses on offense will be linemen Zack Schaner and Cleon Stainford.
On defense, the Patriots will lose linebacker Zach Cheek, who had tallied a team-high 111 tackles this fall. Defensive linemen Brandon Coleman, Ryan Silvera and Travis Wynne also will be missed.
Next season, the Patriots will be able to count on seasoned veterans in their lineup. Some of the key returning players are running backs Tim Parker and Khairi Nash; wide receivers Gary Peters, JR Rhone, Justin Jones and Zane Barefield; offensive linemen Clint Werner and Willis Zanders; defensive lineman Melvin Jones; linebackers Corey Alford, Chase Davis and Travis Martin; defensive backs Reggie Juin, Nash and Tyrell Satterwhite; plus kicker Grant Kelley.
"Next season, we look to be even more competitive with the players returning having experience in the system," Frazier said.
Heritage's primary focus in the offseason will be two things: strength and conditioning.
"There will be a high level of emphasis on our strength and conditioning program," Frazier said. "We are aiming to become stronger and faster."
Jeff Gillespie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.