Gone is coach Jamey DuBose, who made a four-month pit stop at Charles Henderson before accepting the coaching job at Central-Phenix City. First-team All-State quarterback Kendrick Doss is now at Ole Miss. Even the region changed, as Florence will play in Class 6A, Region 8, featuring Muscle Shoals, Athens, Austin, Cullman, Decatur and Hartselle — teams that combined to finish 56-29 last year.
Despite all of the alterations, former defensive coordinator and new coach J.B. Wallace expects to improve upon a 9-4 record that featured the Falcons setting team records for most points in a season (381), most points in a single game (69) and tied the record for most wins in a season (9) en route to a quarterfinal appearance against Hoover.
"Our expectations first and foremost are to win the region," Wallace said. "That's our short-term goal. Our long-term goal is to win a championship.
"Everything has been leading up to where we are right now. This group has done a great job picking up where we left off last year. They're very competitive and have a competitive spirit and that's carried over to this year. They have a refuse-to-lose mentality."
Senior Blake Hawkins will take over at quarterback. Hawkins, a 6-foot-5, 210-pound transfer from Tishimingo (Mississippi) County, is also a three-star quarterback, according to 247Sports, and will run the spread offense.
"I think we're going to be similar to last year's (team)," Wallace said. "We have some things built in where he can use his legs. He's fast and athletic, and we're going to use him very similar to what we did with (Doss)."
Joining Hawkins in the backfield will be senior running back Roland Adams, while Khari Smith and Kameron Davis will also receive carries.
Three-year starter and senior William Barnett will lead the way at receiver, while 6-foot-5, 220-pound senior tight end Tucker Sigle will create matchup problems for defenders.
Senior left tackle Chandler Brewer, who transferred from Central and committed to Middle Tennessee State earlier in the month, will join senior center Tyler Olive on the offensive line. The Falcons will depend heavily on those two, as Vanderbilt signee Cole Hardin and three other starters graduated.
"(Brewer's) going to be an addition to what we have," Wallace said "He's doing a great job learning what we're doing. Tyler Olive has been a starter for two years, so we have a lot of stock in him, as well."
The Falcons defense will be just as potent.
Alabama commit and senior linebacker Keaton Anderson will captain the defense, while nose guard Malik Manciel and defensive end Jordan Dollerson will hold the defense line. Senior safety Dee Smith, a three-star with offers from Auburn, Kentucky, Miami, Mississippi State and Tennessee, will be tasked with stopping the passing game, as the Falcons will use the 3-4 formation.
"We play about 12 (defensive linemen) on a Friday night," Wallace said.
Linebackers Spencer Currie and Braden White will see plenty of playing time alongside Anderson.
"They're competitive and they're athletic, and that's what you want from your linebackers, Wallace said.
Seniors B.J. Oakley and Lamar Lee will join Smith in the secondary,
"They hold each other accountable," Wallace said. "Anytime things get tough, you've got kids quick to cut corners, but they hold each other accountable and want to do things the right way. That's one thing as far as maturity; they understand the hard work that it takes."
Edson Casarrubias will be the team's kicker.
Florence averaged 29.3 points on offense and allowed 21.3 points last season.