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COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) — After going just 5-5 the year before, it was reasonable to expect transition from the Heritage Academy Patriots in 2012.

A new head coach, a new quarterback, and a new playbook were all ahead for the Pats.

That did little to deter Heritage Academy last year, as the Patriots stunned everyone en-route to the school’s second State Title and their first since 1986.

“I don’t think you can top last year’s State Championship season,” coach Barrett Donahoe said. “I think ultimately what you do is continuing to press on the guys on how important it is to play like champions every week.

“It was a special year last season. Any time you win a championship is special for the guys who were here last year and the guys who continue to be here. It’s about continuing the championship ways and how you conduct yourself every day.”

Heritage will have to replace a list of talent seniors from last year’s squad including Cade Lott, Miller Puckett, Hudson Bean, and Parker Dunaway.

But there’s plenty to look forward to going into this year’s team.

“I wouldn’t say that we are replacing anybody,” coach Donahoe said. “We build from within. We put guys in positions to be successful and create ways for them to be successful.

“We certainly miss those characters from last year’s team, but this group we have has given us a lot of hard work in the last eight months and we’ve enjoyed being out here with them.”

There could have been an element of surprise on the side of the Patriots last season, as Heritage was able to win the State Championship without even winning their own district.

That won’t be the case this season, as the defending Champions will have the target on their back. But HA believes with their skill set, they can succeed just like last season.

“I think our receiving corps, secondary, and depth at linebacker will be three important things we have,” Donahoe said. “We’re a little thin on the lines but we have some good guys playing there.

“We hope that the kind of formula for last year will help us be successful: playing great special teams, good defense, and trying to find a way to put a lot of points on the board.”

Heritage will start 2013 with two public/private school bouts against Caledonia on Thursday, August 22nd and West Lowndes on August 30th before getting into MAIS play on September 6th at Winston Academy.

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