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Dunwoody Wildcats eye first playoff appearance in over a decade

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DUNWOODY, Ga. — The last time Dunwoody made the playoffs was 2009, but sixth-year head coach Mike Nash and the 2020 Wildcats feel they have a shot at breaking through in their first season in Class 7A.

Dunwoody Football Helmet

The Wildcats return a plethora of experienced talent as they take on their first year in a competitive Region 7-AAAAAAA.

“We’re excited about it,” Nash said. “We’re hoping and praying we get the chance to play football this year. If we do, we think it’s going to be a really exciting and really good year.”

The Wildcats leave behind Region 7 in Class 6A, which featured several North Fulton teams, such as Alpharetta, Cambridge, Centennial, Chattahoochee, Johns Creek and Northview. Their new region opponents are all Gwinnett County schools, including Berkmar, Discovery, Duluth, Meadowcreek and perennial powerhouses Archer and Norcross.

“As soon as you [see the new region], the two big names you see on there are Archer and Norcross,” Nash said. “That’s a daunting task. Those guys are among the best in the state every year … It’s also really cool to be in that Gwinnett County region because quite honestly, it’s the best there is in the state most of the time. It’s going to be cool for our kids to see that. They’re excited.”

Senior quarterback Davis LeDoyen returns to lead the Wildcat offense. LeDoyen committed June 25 to Elon University, where he will continue his football career playing for the Phoenix.

“He understands the offense, and he’s going to be very valuable for us,” Nash said.

LeDoyen will have his entire offensive line from last year blocking for him, a first at Dunwoody during Nash’s tenure as head coach. Seniors Tyler Rush, Cam Weeks and Eugene Pawlak all return to keep LeDoyen safe in the pocket and create space for the running game. Nash said the group put on weight during the offseason, bumping the average weight up 40 pounds by his estimate.

With their experience and upgraded size on the offensive line, Nash expects the Wildcats to run the ball more than in the past, while mixing it up with plenty of different formations and schemes.

ON THE COVER | Dunwoody's Conrad Smith

Dunwoody’s Conrad Smith returns an interception in the Wildcats 2019 matchup with Centennial. Dunwoody head coach Mike Nash says the team could be poised to end their playoff absence this year. 

“We’re going to be all over the place,” Nash said. “It’s going to be hard to adjust to us.”

Nash expects senior Cevon Mitchell to get some snaps at running back along with his duties as a linebacker.

Dunwoody’s defense returns many players in 2020 after bouncing back from losing 10 defensive starters in 2019.

Along with Mitchell at linebacker, senior and two-year starter Cash Goolsby returns at linebacker to help lead the defense.

On the defensive line, Nash said Conrad Smith and Brennen Yarbo will be two forces in the trenches for the Wildcats.

Senior Emmanuel Ahenfo returns in the secondary following an ACL injury in the first game of the 2019 season.

“He’s really shown himself during camp this year,” Nash said. “He’s going to be good.”

In a year filled with questions, uncertainties and changes, the Wildcats have experienced a surge in player numbers, practice attendance and overall energy, Nash said. Combine this with the experience and talent the group possesses, and it could spell success for Dunwoody.

Nash said the first goal as a team is to remain healthy, but he acknowledged they have a second, more football-related goal for 2020.

“We haven’t made the playoffs at Dunwoody in a long time,” Nash said. “We feel like this year we have a shot at it. If we take care of the ones we can take care of, then we can do it.”

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