There are just 40 days remaining until the kickoff of the 2017 high school football season. But make no mistake, preparations for the upcoming campaign got underway months ago in weight rooms, sand pits and practice fields throughout the state. And teams throughout northeast Georgia are in full countdown mode.
With that in mind we spent the last few days catching up with programs around our area to get a feel for how spring practice went, how the summer is going and what coaches believe the fall will look like. We call the series "Two-a-Days" in honor of those old-school grinding sessions that lead us out of summer and into fall, asking each area coach two key questions about the state of their respective programs.
Over the next few days, AccessWDUN's Friday Game Night will get you prepped for the start of gridiron action with responses from coaches throughout northeast Georgia. (Teams run in alphabetical order)...
The Leopards are coming off an historic campaign where the Leopards collected their first-ever playoff win and a trip to the second round of the Class AA playoffs. However, they will have several key holes to fill, particularly on the offensive side of the ball, on a team that finished second in a tough Region 8-AA in 2016. Can the Leopards make another run in 2017? Second-year coach Josh Shoemaker discusses how the changes are coming and whether they can duplicate last year’s success.
QUESTION: Coach, how will you be able to replace a plethora of graduated seniors, including QB Griffin Goodwin, on the offensive side?
ANSWER: The offense will look very different from a year ago, for sure. We lost three guys along the line, including our center, our top running back, two receivers, and of course Griffin. We’re going to run the same system but it’s going to take some time with all the changes. I don’t know yet if we’re reloading so to speak or rebuilding. Right now no one is penciled in as a starter. We feel like there are some guys that can be playmakers but we’re still trying to figure out who we have and where everyone fits.
Q: How will you be able to carry the momentum built from last year to this season?
A: What we want is to build that tradition where every year the expectations are high and we have a chance to make the playoffs. Making the playoffs (last year) was great in that the kids coming back got a taste of it. Hopefully they’re hungry to want to get back. We’re working on their mindset, which is part mental and part physical. Building those expectations where every year the older kids step up with the thought that it’s their turn to show us what they’ve got. We’re glad we made the playoffs. But, there is still lots to do for us to have a chance to get back there.