As we lead up to the Daily Press football section's publication on Aug. 29, we will do a day-by-day countdown with a preview on each team. We started Friday with our pick for 10th place, and we'll finish on the 29th with our predicted Peninsula District champion.
No. 9: HERITAGE HURRICANES
COACH: Dan Tomblin (first year)
TOP RETURNEES: QB/DB Andrew Warren (6-1/190/Sr.), FB/LB Ronald Peden (5-10/220/Jr.), OL/DL Jordan Council (6-1/210/Jr.), RB Ahmad Granby (5-10/180/Sr.), OL/DL Reno Thomas (6-0/200/Sr.), WR/LB Andre Cooper (6-0/190/Sr.), RB/DB Mario Cofield (5-10/170/Jr.), FB/LB Patrick Brown (6-2/230/Jr.).
OFFENSE: Yes, the offense was offensive last year. The Canes scored only 97 points, 42 coming against Menchville and Gloucester. And their top weapon, RB Terrance Malone, is gone. Tomblin is hopeful that Warren, who has played only four games in two seasons, can lead this group. Granby and senior Trey Pearson, neither of whom had a single rushing attempt last year, will split the carries. Council is the only returning starter up front.
DEFENSE: Though it gave up nearly 300 yards and 35 points a game last season, the Heritage D wasn't that bad. The offense put it in some impossible situations with three-and-outs and/or turnovers that made for short fields. Tomblin expects this group to be competitive. Council will anchor the front, Cooper and Brown the linebackers along with sophomore Charlie Harrison, and Cofield the secondary. If the offense improves, the defense should allow fewer points.
THE COACH SAYS: "The enthusiasm has been great. We have too many players and not enough jerseys. I don't want to cut anybody from a high school team, but we don't know what do about that at this point. I've been super happy with the JV program and coaches. They're highly motivated. We ran the JV against our third string and the JV won. So there's definitely a future at Heritage -- if not now, definitely down the road."
THE OUTLOOK: Why this program has slid so far so quickly is something of a mystery. The Hurricanes began the decade with a state championship. But Tomlin, who was an assistant coach for three years in Houston, believes things can be turned around. It has to start on offense, which was the weakest link last season. Heritage has a winnable opener against Denbigh.
No. 9 in our preseason PD power poll countdown: Heritage
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