Greater Atlanta Christian Coach Tim Cokely believes in setting his goals high.
"I've been coaching a good while and I always want to play for a championship whether it's a regional championship or state championship," he said. "That's just the way I've always been. Some years it's more realistic than others."
For a team that has 13 battle-tested starters returning after a 9-3 season and a trip to the second round of the Class AA state playoffs, a championship in 2011 is very realistic.
Sure, the Spartans will have some big shoes to fill like placekicker Matt Carrothers, who had a Ripley's Believe-It-Or-Not kind of season last year. He was an amazing 54-of-54 on all his kicks, PAT and field goals. Carrothers is headed off to the Air Force Academy. Cokely will also have to find replacements for talented safety David Harber and defensive end Patrick Haberstroh.
Even with the departures, the Spartans should be ahead of where they were last year at this time when they were getting adjusted to their new coaching staff and a whole new system.
Cokely likes to run what he calls a "hybrid" offense with multiple sets and a two-quarterback system.
Back to share snaps this year are Jared Chapple (6-4 235) and David McTier (5'10 185). Both are very capable of running Cokely's offense. Track standout Levondre Nelson (5-8, 170) has blazing speed and will help anchor the running game along with Kyle Scales (5-10, 185).
The Spartans QBs will have a trio of talented wide receivers in Clay Metzger (6-1, 190), Kaliff Raymond (5-8, 160) and Calvin Mapp (5-8 165).
The line isn't particularly big, except for tackle Chase Roberts (6-4, 285) a Georgia Tech commitment. Scott Crawford (6-2, 255) will man the other tackle spot. The guards will be Scotty Andrews (6-2, 193) and Grant Bell (6-1, 218). Tate Cooksey (5-11, 205) will start at center.
Key returning players on defense include Nelson, who will line up at cornerback, linebackers DaSean Daniels (6-0 ,215) and Jonathan Ford (6-3, 220), end Parker Fair (6-1, 220) and safety Kyle Scales (5-10, 185).
Trent Jenkins is just a sophomore, but at 6-5, 310 pounds he will be a solid run stopper at nose guard.
Spartans fans can also look for major contributions from linebackers Kris Smith (6-2, 200) and George Thomas (6-0, 215), end Andrew Bartholomei (6'5"265), corner back Kaliff Raymond (5'8"160) and safety Jarrod Rickman (5'11" 185).
Practice runs daily leading up to the opening game on Aug. 26 against Columbia.