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, twice daily)...
Up first is Apalachee and coach Steve Sims. The Wildcats went 2-7-1 last season, taking big steps from going 0-10 in 2015. Sims is entering his third season in charge, having taken over a program that won just one contest its previous two years combined. With that in mind, the coach and his staff have concentrated on building the Wildcats from the bottom up.
QUESTION: Over the past couple of seasons we've talked about how you wanted to build for the future by increasing the numbers of players in your freshmen and sophomore classes. Are those groups now ready to step up and take leadership roles, and how is the team roster shaping up for this season?
ANSWER: We've got a pretty good rising sophomore group. A lot of them are going to have to start. Our biggest loss -- you know, we had a pretty decent size senior class; it wasn't huge last year. But we had a lot of starters graduate, especially in the secondary. All the DBs and two of the linebackers are gone from last year, so that's an area where some of those sophomores are going to have to start, whether they're ready or not. We're trying to get them ready; they're doing well. But they're 10th graders, like I said. In the secondary and at receiver we're going to have a lot of young kids.
Q: Your program took steps forward last season (going 2-7-1, which represented more wins than the previous three combined), do you think you're going to continue that improvement this season?
A: We're still in the building process, like we've talked about. And we're going to start a lot of sophomores, and that, traditionally, isn't something that's going to bode well for next season, but we're going to move them forward for the future. We've got a really good ninth grade class -- over 40 are working out with us this summer, between 45 and 50. Another group behind this current sophomore class. And the current seniors and juniors that we do have, they're good football players, but we've got the same issue we've had since I've been there which is depth in our senior and junior class. But that's gradually getting better starting with this rising 10th grade class -- there's a good number of those kids and another class behind them with good numbers. At the end of the day we're just going too be very young in the skilled positions.
- Up next in Two-a-Days: BANKS COUNTY