STOCKBRIDGE — After reaching the Class AAAAA Final Four last season, the Stockbridge Tigers will have to reload on offense and defense as several key contributors from last year’s squad have departed.
Stockbridge finished first in Region 4-AAAAA last season but will be tasked with replacing several All-County selections, like quarterback Kenderick Duncan, running back Jalen Holston, offensive linemen Devin Oubre and Matthew Foster and defensive players Aaron Robinson and Chris Hall.
“We will have a lot of new faces but we feel that guys will step up and make plays this year,” head coach Kevin Whitley said. “(It’s) too early to tell who that is, but they are here waiting for an opportunity.”
Much like the year before, the quarterback position will be open after Duncan, who threw for 1,165 yards and five touchdowns while adding another 733 rushing yards with seven touchdowns on the ground, graduated and left for Georgia Southern. Holston, who contributed 1,387 yards on the ground with 15 touchdowns, is now at Virginia Tech, leaving the Tigers with two key offensive positions to fill. Gabe McKenzie is already in a prime position to take over at quarterback after filling in for Duncan in six games last season.
Stockbridge’s departures are significant, but the program does return some of the top talent in the state. Returning All-County wide receiver Marquez Ezzard will be back after a solid junior campaign where he totaled 1,015 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns. On the defensive side, recent Ohio State commit and Henry Herald Defensive Player Of The Year Brenton Cox is expected to replicate his 75-tackle, 18-sack season.
Whitley said he is looking forward to getting back on the field. The last time the Tigers played was in the Class AAAAA Final Four, where they fell in heart-breaking fashion to eventual state champions Rome High.
“We want to play great defense and take care of the ball on offense. Our expectations never change,” Whitley said. “We will continue to coach the little things up so we will be ready to make those plays when we have to.”