There are just 39 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)...
Chestatee rebounded from winning just one game between 2014-15 to post four wins and its first playoff berth since 2013 last season. The War Eagles, behind quarterback Storm Yarbrough and running back Nick Lyles, showed they could score against anyone. However, they will have to replace several key players on the offensive line and try to rebuild a defense that was porous at times in 2016. AccessWDUN’s Jeff Hart caught up with second-year coach Shaun Conley to discuss how the summer has progressed.
QUESTION: Coach, how will you overcome the graduation of three key OL starters?
ANSWER: The offensive line is always a work-in-progress every year. We lost some solid players but we also played about eight guys last year so we also have some guys coming back with varsity experience. What we know is that (sophomore) Seth Sertain moved from guard to center and (junior) Josh Hamilton will be our right tackle. I know that we’ll be bigger up front this year -- our smallest guy is around 240 right now. We feel this is an area we can use to our advantage. We have a lot of skill guys coming back so (the line) is our main area of focus coming into the fall.
Q: The defense lost most of the front-seven to graduation, including linebacker Austin Gean, who finished 3rd in Class AAAA in tackles last year. Is the unit in a rebuild mode and how different might it look it 2017?
A: The defense also will be a huge area of focus for us. We lost a lot of guys up front. Austin was a great player for us, and you don’t really replace a guy like that. We won’t be as big as last year, but I definitely think we’ll be faster. Speed was an issue for us once we got into region play (last year). We have put a lot of emphasis on improving our overall team speed. We’ve made some progress. Right now we’re just trying to get the right people in the right spots and looking for some guys to step up to be leaders on that side of the ball.