There are some man-size names and talent upfront for the Germantown football team this fall.
The primary question for coach Jake Davis and his staff: Will there be enough depth around them to make the 2013 season a success?
"We have a lot of new guys ready to step up," Davis said. "I can't tell you specifically who they are just yet but I'm very excited for their potential. We may actually be bigger than last year (and stronger) because the kids have done a great job in the off-season. We don't have a burner (speed-wise) but our overall team speed is up too."
The Warhawks, who are coming off a 7-3 season, will open their season Friday at 7 p.m. at Greenfield.
The keynote performer on offense will be returning starting quarterback junior Dwayne Lawhorn, Jr. (6-4, 178), who earned second-team All-North Shore honors in leading the Warhawks to a 7-3 mark.
"His comfort level is already much higher than it was (last year)," Davis said. "He's sort of like Josh (Mongan from a few years ago). He knows how to direct traffic. It's hard to find a kid like that."
Lawhorn was one of six sophomores last season who played significant roles for the Warhawks.
He will have experienced targets to go to in senior Nick Holcomb (6-3, 175) and junior Cole Karcz (6-5, 204). Junior fullback Kyle Theis (6-1, 200) returns as a force at fullback.
And though veteran all-conference lineman Ryan Lemke and Bobby Stemm have graduated, there is still muscle up front to work with in returning starters junior Sean Mabbett (6-4, 287) and senior Austin Langford (6-0. 275).
On defense, the key name is returning first-team all-conference and all-region senior tackle Hunter Higginbotham (6-4, 250). But experience around Higginbotham is hard to find, as many starters from 2012 were part of a 35-man senior group. Those with dirt under their fingernails already include senior linebacker Clay Knapp (6-3, 204) and junior defensive end Lincoln Gruber (6-2, 187). Karcz will play some defensive end too.
Davis said the entire secondary will be new this fall.
"But our cupboard's not bare," said. "It's been really good so far. It's been a lot of fun but this group (around 58 all told) knows how to get work done too."
And motivation will be a driver this fall for the Warhawks. They had a great season going until late losses to eventual state D2 champion and chief rival Homestead and eventual D1 state champ Arrowhead closed the campaign on a less-than-happy note.
That motivation comes from the coach, who was starting center on the 1999 Homestead state title squad.
"It's ingrained in me," Davis said. "Once you've done that (won a state title), it's hard to settle for anything else."
Your link to the biggest stories in the suburbs delivered Thursday mornings.
Enter your e-mail address above and click "Sign Up Now!" to begin receiving your e-mail newsletter Get the Newsletter!
- Boys basketball: Early run keeps Germantown's streak intact
- Youthful Germantown grapplers come up just short of Bay in NSC dual opener
- Germantown chasing history
- Dixon's rally keys Bay wrestling team's 41-33 win over Germantown
- Engines on full-blast, Germantown boys roar to easy win in opener
- 'Run and shoot' Germantown girls are aiming for an NSC title
- Blue Knights show balance as basketball season takes off
- Germantown's Holcomb, Higginbotham earn NOW grid honors
- Germantown boys basketball team aims for third straight state title
- Strong 2013 season may only be a prelude for Germantown gridders in 2014