There are just 35 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 Raiders were another program that had a breakout season in 2016. They finished .500 or better for the first time since 2011 after winning just three total games over the previous four season (2012-15) combined.
However, they play in one of the toughest regions (8-AAAAAA) in Class AAAAAA with Dacula, Gainesville, Lanier, and Winder-Barrow. AccessWDUN's Jeff Hart asked coach Benjie Harrison if they are ready to take the next step in 2017.
QUESTION: Coach, after a 5-5 finish, what is the key to building on last year’s success?
ANSWER: First off, we did some really good things last year. The kids bought into what we wanted them to do and that had a lot to do with our success. We were very pleased with how the season went overall. I think one of the big things for us was playing some meaningful games at the end of the season. We had a chance to make the playoffs and that’s what you play for every year. For us to make that next step we will need to be more consistent in general in every phase of the game. That cost us in several games. But I like where we are right now. We have some playmakers, we’re more athletic, and we’ve gotten stronger. We’re ready for the fall to get here.
Q: You will have a new quarterback in A.J. Curry, who moved in from Stephens County. He was a standout at running back for the Indians. How is his progression at QB coming along so far?
A: A.J. is getting better every time we go out there. He is probably the most athletic guy I’ve ever coached at quarterback so we feel there is a lot of upside for him. He’s getting more confident and is understanding the offense better every day. He’s right on schedule for where we were hoping he would be and he’s right where he needs to be as we get ready for fall practice.