There are just 33 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)...
Lakeview Academy was just half a point out of qualifying for its first-ever playoff spot in 2016. A seven-point loss to Athens Christian was all that kept the Lions from advancing. However, they may be looking at the same scenario again in 2017 in what is traditionally a very tough Region 8-A. Six teams in the region advanced to the playoffs with two teams making the quarterfinals. Lakeview finished 3-7 overall and 3-6 in region play. Coach Matthew Gruhn said the key will be finding that elusive extra win but told AccessWDUN they may have the tools in place to do just that.
QUESTION: Coach, y’all were within one play of perhaps making the playoffs last season. What will it take to break through this season?
ANSWER: Really, we just need to find a couple more wins. We were very close last year. The region is tough so if we can find some region wins that will definitely help. We were one play from being able to beat Athens Christian (28-21 loss) and we were in the game late against Hebron Christian (a 24-14 loss). We’re just trying to get better and be even more competitive. Limiting the big plays on defense and fewer turnovers on offense will be the keys to our season.
Q: You do have senior quarterback Alec Bornhorst (2,000 yards passing) returning. Who else will need to step up to give y’all the chance to win games?
A: Alec coming back is a big plus and I feel he’s gotten even better since last year. We also have our leading rusher back in (senior) Dillon Knapp and KJ Millwood [son of former Atlanta Braves pitcher Kevin Millwood] returns. KJ was our third leading receiver last year but he caught 36 passes and he has improved as well. Those three give us a good foundation as long as everyone stays healthy. We have some tools to work with and our focus is on just getting better each day.