The Calvary Christian Knights' football program had a lot of firsts in its inaugural season last year, including its first win and its first trip to the postseason.
Now, as Calvary prepares to begin its second season, the Knights want to take the next steps, which include their first winning season and a deeper run in the playoffs.
"I do think we have a chance to host a first-round playoffs game and make it to at least the second round of the playoffs," Calvary coach Brian Osborne said. "We have five returning starters on the offensive line, and we still only have one senior among that group.
"We're young but experienced, and we have to be able to open holes for our running backs."
The Knights run a wing-T offense, and Osborne said getting good line play will be the biggest key to his team's success.
"We're going to have to control the ball on offense since we're a run-oriented team," Osborne said. "We have to have long drives, like 10, 12, 14 plays, and take time off the clock."
Leading Calvary's rushing attack will be senior Justin Moss, who is back to start at fullback for the second straight season. His counterparts at wingback are a pair of fellow seniors, Jeremy Walker and Duncan Newton. They received playing time last season but will be asked to step into starting roles this year.
Also back for the Knights are quarterbacks Jacob Ammons and Adam Gray, both of whom played a lot last season.
"Last year, we had two guys play quarterback, and both of those guys are returning, which is a plus," Osborne said. "We also have our leading receiver back in Andrew Walsh, who's only a junior, so our passing game should be pretty good as well."
Calvary, which plays in the South Region of the Independent Christian Schools of Georgia and Alabama Athletic Association, has 15 players back from last year's team, including seven offensive starters and seven defensive starters. The Knights have about 22 players in practice, and Osborne said he and his staff have accomplished more in a shorter time this preseason.
"Practice has been going well," Osborne said. "We have a lot of kids back, so we've been able to take things at a faster pace and put in more of our game plan. Last year, we had to teach a lot. This year, has been a lot smoother starting fall practice."
One change Calvary did make was on defense, going to a 3-3-5 alignment to take advantage of the Knights' personnel.
"We don't have a lot of size," Osborne said. "So we decided to use fewer linemen and take advantage of our quickness. Last year, we tried gap control, but it didn't work, so we're going to use our quickness and try to keep offenses guessing."
The linebackers, led by returnees Walsh, Moss and Jacob Struecker, are expected to be the strong point for Calvary, which opens its season at home, taking on Loganville Christian at Britt David Park on Aug. 24.