JOHNS CREEK, Ga. — Job No. 1 for Northview first-year head coach Scott Schwarzer has been changing the atmosphere surrounding the Titans’ program.
That involves getting more players on the field, and getting them, no matter their status as a starter, plenty of reps. There is also a focus on developing Northview’s roster, being more approachable as a staff and having the football program be a positive augmentation of the school at large.
“That’s important to me,” Schwarzer said. “Football should be an extension of the school, the study body, the staff, the faculty, and be something everyone in the Johns Creek community can be proud of being a part of. We want to be part of something that is positive.”
With Northview’s almost all-new coaching staff, those wheels have been set in motion in the offseason. But with the games now on the horizon, the quest to instill pride through putting on a winning product is now up for grabs for the Titans’ program.
Over the last five seasons, the Titans have put together just one winning year. Three of those seasons have netted the team just six combined wins. However, the program is now banking that its new culture can create a rising tide to raise its own ship.
The Titans will seek victory with a mostly green team. While the roster includes many veterans, many, especially on defense, will be young and inexperienced.
Schwarzer doesn’t believe that is necessarily a barrier to success, though.
The true test will be in Region 5-5A play. The Titans had their first season in the region and classification after moving down from 7-6A last year.
“We have good enough kids to compete in our region,” Schwarzer said. “Southwest DeKalb, St. Pius and Decatur are the big three, MLK has had some good years, Lithonia is a competitive squad and then there’s Stone Mountain and us. There’s no reason we can’t compete for one of those four spots in the playoffs.”
The first steppingstone will be non-region play. The team takes on Class 7A’s Forsyth Central, crosstown rivals Chattahoochee, a Dawson County squad and Midtown (formerly Grady) before entering 5-5A play.
“We have to use our non-region schedule to get us ready to compete in region,” Schwarzer said. “I really believe, though, if we can learn and gain experience in the offseason and in non-region, we can compete for a playoff spot.”
Those non-region games will be crucial for the defense.
“Defensively, we’re really young and inexperienced,” Schwarzer said. “I feel like we have good players on defense, it’s just really about experience.”
Junior Nick Moon will lead the Titans’ defensive line alongside sophomore Jimin Kwak, who Schwarzer said just recently picked up the sport but has progressed well.
The defensive line will sport a new look this year with a four-man front.
The linebacker core has ability, Schwarzer said, but will be another young squad. He said the level of the defense will rely heavily on sophomore Josh Byun and 6-foot-2, 200-lb. senior Mark Coady.
Senior Christian Rosado will anchor the secondary at safety alongside freshman corner John Calvin. Schwarzer said it will be difficult for Calvin to learn Northview’s schemes as quickly as they’d like as a freshman, but he is one of the better players on the defensive side.
Northview will also be mostly youthful on offense.
Sophomore Coda Woolstenhulme will start at quarterback, Schwarzer said, and while his youth will likely lead to some mistakes through the season, he has been taking positive steps forward in practice.
The Titans’ new QB will have a more experienced and sizeable target in 6-foot-6, 240-lb. senior tight end Patrick Hester, a three-year starter named an all-region selection last year. Schwarzer said junior wide receiver Raymond Davies will allow the Titans to stretch the field.
After recovering from an injury, senior running back Marcus Godbey will again be in Northview’s backfield after earning first-team all-region honors last year.
Senior Jackson Stiltner will anchor the offensive line.
“He’s a great kid and what a great job he’s done,” Schwarzer said. “He is very physical and has a lot of personal pride in run blocking and pass blocking.”
The Titans will employ a spread offense this season and will try to get the ball into the hands of as many players as possible.
“We are going to try to be balanced, though, and that could be different each week depending on what we do well that week,” Schwarzer said. “We do want to throw the football and be air-raid, but we’ll be physical in the run game, move the ball and set up play action. We’ll be a lot more spread out than [Northview] has been in the past, and we’ll be in the shotgun probably 80 to 85 percent of the time, so that will be a lot different.”
With a revamped culture, a new coaching staff and plenty of untested players, it remains to be seen how the Titans will fare in year one of the Schwarzer era. But ahead of the 2021 season, the Titans have a positive outlook.
“Everything has gone pretty well,” Schwarzer said. “The kids are doing a great job transitioning with the new culture and new staff, and we want to make this a place where we can have some success in football.”