Highlands is fresh off an Allegheny Conference title and its second consecutive WPIAL quarterfinal appearance, but coach Sam Albert said he hopes that success isn't on the minds of any of his players.
"First off, we need to forget about last season," said Albert, whose team went 10-1. "It all starts over again. The kids will respond. They realize it's a new season."
The Golden Rams will need to replace star running back Elijah Jackson, the second-leading rusher in Class AA last season with 1,634 yards and 22 touchdowns. Dom Martinka (5-10, 167, Jr., RB) was supposed to step into Jackson's feature role, but broke his leg in March and isn't expected back until late September. Jordan Lineburg (6-3, 205, Sr., WR) and Jermaine Jett (6-0, 175, So., RB) will get the bulk of the carries early on.
Brayden Thimons (6-4, 225, Jr., QB) passed for 663 yards and 10 touchdowns last season. Thimons also rushed for 491 yards and 10 touchdowns while earning all-conference honors at linebacker. "By the end of the day, he's going to be exhausted," Albert said of Thimons.