There are just 36 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 Rebels were just a few points away from making the state playoffs in each of coach Jim Pavao's first two seasons in Blue Ridge, but last season saw injuries and a wicked schedule combine to drop Fannin to a 2-8 record. This summer Pavao and his staff have made a renewed commitment to defense, looking to shore up a unit that lost half its starters to injury in 2015. Yet the Rebels must also replace an explosive quarterback for their wide-open spread attack. WIth that in mind, Pavao discussed just how Fannin's summer is progressing...
QUESTION: You graduated one of the most prolific quarterbacks in the state from last season in Brad Davis. Who is battling to replace him, and how is that search for a replacement coming?
ANSWER: We've got three quarterbacks competing and playing well right now. There's senior Chandler Smith, then there's junior Tyler Norton, who's also playing well. They're going back and forth right now. And then we have freshman Luke Holloway, who will be very good down the road. We have some improvements to make, but we do have plenty of ability there, and we just need some time to get them comfortable.
Q: The defense gave up 43.9 point per game last season. Will getting that unit back on track be a top priority during the fall practice?
A: Last year we actually played pretty good defense early, and then the bottom fell out because of injuries. Eventually we had our starting quarterback, our top receiver (Cooper Earls) and our starting tight end all starting on defense too. Injuries just decimated us midseason. And we don't have the depth to five-six starters get hurt and still be OK. That snowballed on us last year. We played decent defense the first couple years I was here, and we're putting our best players on that side of the ball now to help us get back to that. Clay Holloway was a starting offensive lineman for us, now he's starting on the defensive line. Cole Earls was our H-back last year; now he'll play defense for us. We're re-committing to play good defense. You've got to play good defense and figure out ways to score points.