North Springs High School has not had a winning football season since about the time that most of its current juniors were born.
In 1998, the Spartans went 8-5 losing in the AAA quarterfinals. The next season was a mediocre one at best with the Spartans posting a 5-5 record. Since, North Springs has never won more than three games in a season even going on a 0-34 stretch from 2009 to 2013.
Head coach Steve Horton returns for his third year leading the Spartans, and he made it clear that it is no secret the team in recent years has been, to put it lightly, underwhelming.
"We've been around for a long time and not a lot of folks knows who North Springs (is)," he said. "That's one of the things we're trying to rectify."
Horton has set realistic goals for his team since joining the program. Last year, he said one of the program's goals was to field three levels: a freshman and junior varsity team along with the varsity football team. North Springs had not had three levels in five or six years, according to Horton.
Another goal was to be competitive, and Horton believes his team was successful in doing that. His example was the team trailing only 7-0 to Kell High School at halftime last year before falling 35-0 in the end. Kell went on to be a AAAA semifinal team.
This season, Horton's goals will be implemented game-by-game. The first goal: win the opening scrimmage against Dunwoody High School.
"For most people, that's an opportunity to get a look and to see what's going on," Horton said on the scrimmage. "No, our goal is to beat Dunwoody."
North Springs returns 13 starters this season, six from the offense and seven from the defense.
The Spartans run a spread offense, but Horton said he will be pushing for a more aggressive ground game.
He also will be transitioning his defense into a 33 Stack while getting more players on the field capitalizing on his team's athleticism.
Last season, North Springs won a scrimmage and regular season game, the first regular season victory since 2009. Horton said that there is positivity in the school and surrounding community that is helping generate excitement about the program.
While team success has been limited, individual success has not been an issue at North Springs.
Several players have multiple Division-I offers, including quarterback Tyler Reid, cornerback and receiver Israel Alexander and offensive lineman Steven King.
"The best way for our guys to get more competitive and to catch up to some of our top talent is the fact that we've got more coaches on staff," Horton said. In the past, Horton had only had about two or three coaches for all three levels of football.
Here is North Spring's regular season schedule:
8/22 -- vs. Woodland
8/29 -- @ Pinecrest Academy
9/12 -- @ River Ridge
9/19 -- @ Sprayberry
10/3 -- vs. Kell
10/10 -- vs. Riverwood
10/17 -- @ Cambridge
10/24 -- vs. Forsyth Central
10/31 -- @ North Atlanta