Preview - Heritage at James Wood

Heritage at James Wood

When: Today, 7 p.m.

Where: Jerry L. Kelican Stadium, James Wood High School.

Records: Heritage Pride (0-0); James Wood Colonels (0-0).

Last year: Heritage won

Players to watch: Heritage — QB/DB/P Alex Carlin, RB/LB Luke Schaub, WR/DB Tyrique Moss, RB/LB John Wooden, WR/DB D.J. Hutcherson.

James Wood — QB/DB Dade Carroll, FB/DE Isaac Schrantz, TE/DB Noah Sullivan, RB/LB Ryan Rupp, TE/DE Sam Costin, TE/DE Elijah Filbert.

Preview: James Wood gets a tough test in its season opener facing a Heritage team that reached the 4A West Region playoffs a season ago.

The Pride return six players on both offense and defense from last year’s team that went 6-4 during the regular season before losing to Woodgrove 40-13 in the opening round of the playoffs.

Colonels coach Mark McHale said Heritage features a multiple offense with both pro set and shotgun looks.

"They’ve got speed, and they’ve got a good quarterback," McHale said. "They like to spread you out."

Leading the Pride’s multiple offense is senior Alex Carlin, the Conference 21 East Player of the Year and a second team All-4A West Region selecton. Carlin totaled 1,615 passing yards and 22 TDs and rushed for 326 yards and five scores.

Carlin set season highs in both passing yards (330) and touchdowns (six total, five passing, one rushing) in a 55-21 win over Wood in last year’s opener.

Heritage coach Reed Prosser said the team will rely heavily on Carlin’s experience and ability.

"We’re in more spread sets [this year] and that fits our personnel better," said Prosser, who coached at Millbrook from 2006-12. "Alex is a three-year starter, so we’re asking him to do a lot of stuff and run the offense through him."

McHale said his defense must stick to its fundamentals and limit mistakes in execution against the Pride.

"We’ve got to make sure we’re in our proper gaps, and if we’re not [their] speed will get you in trouble," McHale said. "We’ve got to execute and our secondary has to keep everything in front of them.

"They’ve got a speed advantage and like to get the ball in space, so we’ve got to be very disciplined in those situations."

Prosser noted that the Colonels’ offense — led by senior quarterback Dade Carroll — appears to be a little more spread than last year when it had Tyler Bishop as the feature back, but he said season openers often come down to execution and taking care of the football.

"The key in Week 1 is not so much about scheme," Prosser said. "Week 1 is doing what you can do and making sure you don’t have mistakes and execute. Nobody has a ton of film on anybody. We’ve focused on taking care of us, and I’m sure James Wood is focused on taking care of [itself]."

— Compiled by Robert Stocks