There are just 30 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 up and down 2016 season (4-6) still saw them with a chance on the final week to grab a playoff spot. Entering his second year, coach Robert Craft said building on that success is certainly within his team's grasp in 2017. But a rugged Region 5-AAAAAAA once again awaits as two teams in the region are coming off state quarterfinal appearances. Craft told AccessWDUN that his Raiders are eager to prove more than ready to challenge for a postseason slot.
QUESTION: Coach your squad was very competitive for 3/4ths of the season. Do you expect progression from that coming into this campaign?
ANSWER: When our staff took over last year, we talked to the kids about championships. That’s the goal we’re trying to build here. We were in it until the last game (in 2016) and the kids saw that they can have success so that was a big positive for us. We want to give ourselves a chance every year to get into the playoffs.
Q: However, you graduated a lot of seniors on a defensive unit that experienced some tough moments over the final month of the season. Who could be some breakout players on defense this year?
A: We did lose a bunch on defense, including Griffin Hughes (LB/DE) and Bradley Thomas (DB), who were big leaders for us. Defense will be the key for us this year. You have to stop the run in (Class) AAAAAAA, and we needed to be bigger and stronger. We’ve already made some progress in that area, but there is always more work to do. I think (junior) Honus Wagner (DB) could be one of those guys that has a breakout year. He showed a lot of potential last year. (Senior) Robert Faulkner (LB) also could be a guy you hear a lot about as the season goes on.
- Previously in Two-a-Days: MILL CREEK
- Up Next in Two-a-Days: NORTH GWINNETT