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FOOTBALL PREVIEW: George Walton Academy looks to build upon promise
GWA Preview
GWA will play a 2022 season schedule featuring new opponents for the Bulldogs. - photo by Covington News/File Photo

A new league, a potentially explosive offense and a renewed sense of confidence have the George Walton Academy Bulldogs looking forward to the 2022 football season.

Last year in late July, things did not look good. GWA was battling roster number problems with just 17 players at one point. It was also facing a rugged season, which would be its last in the Georgia High School Association Region 8A-Private.

The Bulldogs were able to get enough players ready and finished the season at 3-7. Afterwards, head coach Logan Beer and his staff addressed the player numbers.

“Our attendance this week for our summer program was 35 (players), which was way better than we started last year. We began last year with 23 but ended with 33. This year it’s 35 and we’re hoping to have 40 by the time we start fall practice. So, we’re already in a better spot,” Beer said.

The Bulldogs were able to go through eight days of spring practice, and it was very productive as the team was able to expand its offensive and defensive priorities.

“We accomplished a lot by installing our set foundation for the summer,” Beer said. “We addressed the lifting piece, the conditioning piece and the football piece of it.”

The production did not stop there. Beer and his staff were able to step back to add twists to the team’s single wing/wing-T hybrid offense.

“We experimented with some different things with the offense,” Beer said. “It was a matter of just wanting to see how it looked. We made some small tweaks here and there. We also looked at where guys might fit in in certain situations.”

Beer said the biggest focus, position-wise, was at running back.

“We lost our stud running back, Laythan Folgman, so we have to have Calan Fortunat step up and be able to carry the load. He is a rising senior,” Beer said.

Fortunat has had a big summer. The Walton Tribune Elite 11 star has given GWA a game-breaker in the backfield.

“Calan’s incredible. He’s a human highlight film every time he gets the ball,” Beer said.

Fortunat is not alone, the Bulldogs have a second potent option with the return of Carter Payne as a swing back and slot receiver.

Some more good news for the Bulldogs’ potential run game is the return of all five offensive linemen from 2021.

“Not only are they a year older, they are so much bigger and stronger. We went with some guys not even 200 pounds to having all five guys over 200 pounds,” Beer said.

Next comes a new league, the move to the revamped Georgia Independent Athletic Association.

“We wanted to keep our local teams on our schedule like Social Circle. We will also keep Banks County,” Beer said. “Our new region is us, Loganville Christian, Riverside, Bethelham Christian and Lakeview Academy. This should be good for us.”

GWA opens the season Aug. 19 at Lake Oconee Academy. The Bulldogs then head to Christian Academy of Knoxville, Tennessee on Aug. 26.