Returning all five of their starters, who are now seniors — Lee Moore, Jordan Neff, Saxon Steele, Jonathan Beausejour and Dennis Young-Coleman — could help the Warriors surpass their state quarterfinal showing from last year and possibly win it all.
The one thing different from last season are some new faces in reserve.
While North Cobb can’t surprise teams like its did last season, the experience can work in its favor.
“The experience of last year helps,” coach Terry Gorsuch said. “We played three tough (playoff) games, and that experience is valuable — different arenas, long drives and the quality of opponents. Having that experience could work in our advantage. We snuck up on people last year. This time, the shoe is on the other foot.”
North Cobb, which finished with a 26-5 record before falling to Savannah in the Class AAAAA quarterfinals, beefed up its early schedule for the 2012-13 season in order to be ready for Region 4AAAAAA play.
The Warriors open the season Saturday against Peachtree Ridge in the North Gwinnett Bulldog Classic and, one week later, will make the short trip up Old Highway 41 for a game at North Cobb Christian.
North Cobb will host McEachern on Nov. 27 to begin region play.
Steele is expected to be the leader on the floor for North Cobb this year. Last year’s Region 4AAAAA player of the year, he led the Warriors with 15.8 points a game and averaged 4.5 assists.
Gorsuch said it may be hard for opposing teams to press North Cobb with Saxon on the floor.
Moore is also expected to pick up where he left off for North Cobb after he averaged 15.6 points, a team-high 7.1 rebounds and 2.3 steals.
Neff, a Florida Gulf Coast signee, can also score in double figures, and Gorsuch said he’s modified the offense to give him more scoring opportunities.
“(Neff) worked a lot on his perimeter shooting this summer, and I expect him to become a better perimeter scorer than he was last year,” Gorsuch said of the 6-foot-7 center. “I think he will be more of a 3-point threat, and we modified our offense for better spacing. He attracted so much attention last year and should get more open looks.”
Beausejour is planning on resuming his role inside the paint, and Young-Coleman is known the unselfish player who creates scoring opportunities for teammates.
North Cobb did lose Armani Jackson, who helped off the bench, but it’s expecting senior forward Devin Everage, senior guard Leon Jordan and sophomore guard Noah Cotton to rise up.
“I think, with a new mix of players, it’s always a team chemistry,” Gorsuch said. “We have to work newcomers into the lineup, and that’s a unique challenge for us. We have proven guys on court but we have to mesh as a team.”
On paper, Region 4AAAAAA is North Cobb’s to lose. Harrison, which made it to the state semifinals last year, lost its entire starting lineup, as did region newcomer Marietta. South Cobb had to replace key players after making a second-round playoff run, and Hillgrove also sustained losses to graduation.