But there are a few teams that don’t plan on making that easy.
Woodstock and Cherokee, who will compete alongside the Eagles in Area 2AAAAAA, aren’t planning to go quietly. Neither is River Ridge, which will face Etowah in a non-area game during the final week of the season, in just its first season competing at the varsity level.
Woodstock and Etowah were both playoff teams last season. The Wolverines bowed out in the first round, while the Eagles reached the semifinals, where they lost to eventual state champion Milton.
Woodstock will benefit from the largest class of seniors in program history. The Wolverines are aiming for a fourth-consecutive trip to the state playoffs under coach John Sailers, but it won’t be easy.
Because the sport is still growing, the areas have been adjusted to accommodate new teams. The changes have made Area 2AAAAAA undisputedly the best in the state. It boasts three of the final four teams from the Class AAAAA playoffs last season — Etowah and the two, finalists Milton and Lassiter.
“It’s easy to say we are in the toughest (area) in the state,” Sailers said.
The Wolverines will be led by third-year starting goalkeeper Austin Ambrose, and two other third-year starters on the attack, Dalton Clark and Bishop Beoning.
Woodstock should be strong defensively and in transition. The Wolverines graduated just one member of the defense and one member of the midfield.
“We are very excited about the upcoming year, and we have high expectations,” Sailers said.
Etowah finished 2012 campaign ranked fourth in the state and, according to coach Michael Tuley, is ready for another run deep into the playoffs and a challenge for a state title.
The Eagles (1-1) have already opened their season, with a win over Hillgrove and a loss to Chattahoochee.
They are led returning all-state seniors Sam Rubin and Griffin Sinclair on defense and seniors Chris Orr and Nick Parbhoo on offense. All four are team captains.
Other key players on defense include seniors Hayden Armistead and Seamus Smart. Offensive contributors include seniors Connor Smith and Matt Taylor, as well as juniors Zach Lord, Blake Charitat, Jay Crook and Connor Tuza.
“I would say our strength is our defense,” Tuley said. “We are returning all but one player from last year’s team. We let a few teams hang around with us last season, and we look to be more decisive and finish them early.”
Cherokee is off to a rocky start at 0-3. The Warriors are lacking offense, but that may change as the season progresses.
Creekview, a newcomer to the scene, will play its first season at the varsity level.
River Ridge will play a non-area schedule as it attempts to recruit players from within the school and develop a feeder program. With just 20 players on the roster, the Knights know they will have to work hard to become competitive.
Key players for River Ridge include juniors Chandler Eggins (attack/midfield), Cody Scott (attack) and J.J. Vienneau (attack) and sophomore Jacob Samuels (defense).