JOHNS CREEK, Ga. — Johns Creek girls lacrosse will be under new direction in 2021 with head coach Ken Moore taking over the program.

The new man at the helm is ready to build on the program’s rise in recent years. Moore said the Gladiators have already set a foundation for success, but he will aim to lead the program to new heights.

“For us, it’s about getting over some of the humps,” Moore said. “We’ve made the playoffs the last several years but have been getting knocked out in that first or second round. We want to keep the program going in the right direction and into those next levels. The main thing it to beat the Miltons and West Forsyths…just have the consistency of beating those high-caliber teams.”

A main focus in furthering the program’s success is building from the youth ranks. Moore said he wants to be involved in the Johns Creek middle school girls lacrosse program and begin a summer camp to get younger kids playing the game.

Moore said a significant aspect to Milton’s 13-state titles is its deep youth programs fostered by Eagles’ head coach Tim Godby.

Godby is one of several coaches Moore has worked with over the past 17 years in North Fulton and Forsyth County programs.

He was the head coach at South Forsyth for three years in the mid-2000s before moving to Alpharetta and serving as an assistant with Raiders’ girls lacrosse. He has since held assistant coaching positions at Milton and Chattahoochee and has been officiating the game.

Moore said he is happy to again be a head coach and to lead the program, and his hiring to the position is unique in its history.

“For the first time in the 12 years of the program, the head coach is actually teaching in the building,” Moore said. “That’s a big plus.”

Taking over a program during the COVID-19 pandemic has presented significant tests, though.

“There’s so many challenges and unknowns, especially with our numbers,” Moore said. “A lot of players didn’t come out that I was expecting to. That’s been a problem. We had 30 girls try out for two teams.”

A smaller roster will likely come into play in the Gladiators’ game strategies.

“We will always look at transition and beating the other team down the field,” Moore said. “But against those high-caliber teams, we need to have patience. We can’t just ‘run and gun,’ especially with our numbers. If it’s not there, we’ll run a settled offense to give us time to rest. We’ll have to be in shape to compete with those good programs.”

The Gladiators’ schedule is full of strong competition, including Milton, Lassiter, West Forsyth, Alpharetta and Blessed Trinity. Johns Creek will also look to take the Class 6A-7A Area 1 crown against an updated slate that includes Centennial, Chattahoochee, Buford, Norcross and others.

Taking that region crown is a main objective for 2021 and could benefit the Gladiators’ charge to make deeper runs in the postseason.

“One of the main goals I always set for a team I’m coaching is to win the area,” Moore said. “Getting No. 1 in the area will help you, seed-wise, in the tournament for at least the first two rounds. Then we’ll take our chance to keep moving on, and by that time our bench will be deeper because the JV season will be over.”

While the pandemic could present speed bumps for the Gladiators this season, Moore is pinning his hopes on a positive outcome.

“We’re just hoping to compete and have a good year,” he said. “The main thing is I’m hoping to start out where the last coach [left off] and build consistency.”

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