Since 2003 Jojah has only missed Nationals once. It is safe to say that the Bulldogs have made themselves a staple of the competitive Ultimate scene. However, apart from their trip to the semifinals on the back of future World Champion Dylan Tunnell, Jojah has not had much in the way of success once Nationals has rolled around. Last season was no exception as Georgia, the No. 2 team from the Atlantic Coast, won one game in Columbus and finished tied for 19th in the nation.
“For all our players that were on the team last year,” Jojah captains Peter Dempsey and Rob Herrig wrote us in an e-mail. “(That) was an embarrassment.”
However, Jojah has been surrounded by success this offseason, as two of men who play pivotal roles on the team, fifth year captain Dempsey and coach AJ Tiarsmith helped lead Atlanta’s Chain Lightning to its first UPA Club Championship.
Tiarsmith plays the role of coach and Herrig and Dempsey believe that his role on the team cannot be understated.
“We believe that we have the best coach in college Ultimate in AJ Tiarsmith,” Herrig and Dempsey wrote us in an e-mail. “His knowledge of the game is incredible and he is great at indentifying what we need to work on, both as individuals and as a team. He inspires a passion for the game and, at the same time, he helps keep us loose and having fun.”
No one benefited from that knowledge in the last year than Dempsey. A staple of Jojah’s season last year was to see Tiarsmith and Dempsey consistently discussing strategy between points and games. On top of that, Dempsey spent the club season gaining supplemental coaching from Tiarsmith and the rest of Chain’s experienced roster and it showed on the sport’s largest stage.
Dempsey’s near Callahan will most likely be a familiar sight for Jojah’s opponents this season as he and fifth year senior Taylor Nilan, who was the last player to not make Chain’s roster this season, anchor the Bulldogs’ aggressive defensive-line.
On the the other side of the disc, the Bulldog ties run as thick as blood. It’s tough to beat the chemistry that Jojah’s best cutter and Jojah’s best handler have. Rob Herrig, who Dempsey refers to as “the quarterback of the UGA offense,” works as one with his younger brother, Charlie. The Herrig brothers are a force to be reckoned with and with Georgia’s offensive style, it’s not a choice of how to defend them, it’s a choice of how you want to be beat.
“We run our defenders tired all over the field,” Dempsey and Herrig wrote. “On the open side, we get open consistently. In the red zone, we break the mark and play possession. Our cutters are extremely athletic, they are quick and fast but they will throw the huck if the deep pass is open.”
To say that Georgia has a complete team is a bit of an understatement. 14 members of Jojah’s roster have been playing together for at least two years and the Bulldogs are ready to prove that this year is their year.
“We expect to win every game that we play in,” Dempsey and Herrig wrote. “We’ve got the talent and we put in the work. If we stay focused, we know that we can beat anyone we play.”
Winning their home tournament for the first time in its history would certainly be a nice place to start.