Editor's note: This story is featured in the Daily Citizen-News' weekly high school football Touchdown! section. Grab an issue in papers on Fridays during football season, or stop by our office for a copy.
During a football game, players hear numerous voices.
Coaches shouting instructions. Teammates giving encouragement. Cheerleaders exhorting the crowd to make noise. Opponents talking trash.
At tight-knit Christian Heritage School during home games, senior nose guard Kaleb Shultz and his teammates hear other distinct voices.
"It's really funny here because we're not a huge school so whenever you hear a voice in the stands you always know who it is," Shultz said. "You know who their kid is that they're cheering for, where their parents are. It's really fun. You look in the stands and you can see everyone. Since we're a small school, we're all in for it together. Everybody comes out to the game."
So far this season, Lions fans have had plenty to cheer about. Christian Heritage is off to a 5-1 start (2-1 in Region 6-A) and are ranked No. 6 in the Georgia High School Association Class A-Private Power Ratings. The Power Ratings system determines which teams make the playoffs.
While Christian Heritage's offense has been prolific, its defense has been just as important giving up only and average of 9.1 points per game. And Shultz -- at 6 feet, 3 inches and 275 pounds -- has been a big reason for the defense's success, coach Jay Poag said.
Shultz started his high school career playing offensive tackle. For his senior season, coaches moved him exclusively to nose guard to give the defensive line some needed size, Poag said.
"He has exceeded all expectations," Poag said. "He's put together a really good season so far. A lot of effort, a motor over there for a big kid. He's solidified the middle over there for us. It's one of the reasons the defense has been so good."
Through six games, Christian Heritage has faced several teams that employ the run-based wing-T offense that relies big offensive lineman and deception to move the ball down the field.
"To have someone that's anchored in the middle that doesn't get knocked backwards into those linebackers is critical when you play that wing-T offense," Poag said. "It's like we see it every week, and we'll see it this week some (against Bowdon)."
Shultz said he prefers playing defense. He admits he isn't the quickest player, and offensive tackle requires that trait to block rushing defenders. At nose guard, Shultz can use his power.
As he reflects on his senior season, which is quickly winding down, Shultz said the connection with teammates has been the highlight of his time at Christian Heritage.
"After a game the feeling that we all as a team are rejoicing together, which is really fun, or we're all sad together and working on getting better together," Shultz said. "It's really taught me a lot about working together with people and how to overcome maybe disagreements with people to get something done. I think it's a really essential skill that I've been able to learn."