Coach: Justin Hardin, first season at Latin (40-27 overall)
2017 Record: 9-4, 1-2 in CISAA
Returning Starters: Offense, 5; Defense, 7
For the first time since 1985, Larry McNulty will not be on Latin’s sideline after leading the Hawks to 12 NCISAA crowns, including last year’s Division II title. In is Justin Hardin, who has previous short stints at Weddington, Providence and Independence. Hardin is capable of leading this program for decades to come after serving as the team’s defensive coordinator last year.
The Hawks must overcome the losses of star running back DeMarkes Stradford, who accrued nearly 6,000 total yards in his career, and quarterback Martin Sumichrast to be successful on offense.
Charles Watson and Jake Helfrich are battling to be under center, while Carter Stockwell and four-year-starter at H-back/tight end Ryan Brouse will get the majority of carries.
Receivers Randy Johnson, Kambridge Tuttle, Alexander Donald, Elijah Horton and Andrew Sumichrast will fight for touches.
The line has a couple of holes to fill, but it is buoyed by three-year starters Kevens Grammont and all-state selection Kemp Norris, along with returning starter Joe Parish.
Grammont and Parish will serve double duties and play at the ends, while Norris will man one of the tackle spots. The other will see a combination of AJ Tolber, Bennett Smith and Jackson Edwards, who also provide depth up front.
Brouse is an all-state pick at linebacker and will control the middle. Walker Finke is the weakside linebacker, but the Hawks are searching for a replacement at the sam spot.
Johnson, Horton, Donald and Andrew Sumichrast are all back as starters in the secondary.
Donald will handle the kicking duties, and speedsters Horton and Tuttle are weapons in the return game.