There are just 29 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 Bulldogs underwent a coaching change for the first time in 11 years this offseason, when the most successful coach in program history, Bob Sphire, left North Gwinnett to take the same job at Camden County. In stepped Mill Creek defensive coordinator Bill Stewart -- one of the architects of the Hawks' rise to prominence. Stewart helped lead Mill Creek to back-to-back semifinal appearances and will now look to lead the Bulldogs back to region and state prominence. Stewart discussed what he's seen so far since his arrival in Suwanee and just how his Bulldogs offenses will look as compared with the spread attacks that Sphire installed at North Gwinnett...
QUESTION: You're following a coach in Bob Sphire that took North Gwinnett to two state championship games (and the state playoffs in 10 of 11 seasons). You've also helped coach Mill Creek to back-to-back state semifinals. What do you think it's going to take to get North Gwinnett back to that level of postseason success?
ANSWER: There's a lot of great things that were already put in place by Bob Sphire. He did a tremendous job, and so I'm fortunate to be here. I'm very humbled to be here, and I do think our kids have embraced the grind, and they're getting with it. So at this point it's just going to be to continue to work to get better. Our focus is always just getting better each day, not necessarily thinking about how many wins you're going to have, but improving every day. I think our kids are doing that, and so that's how we go about it.
Q: You were in charge of the defense over at Mill Creek, but what are your plans, offensively, for North Gwinnett? The Bulldogs were known for their wide-open spread attack. Are you going to continue that same style of offense?
A: There will be traces of it, yeah. It's going to look different, but it's not a far stretch of difference. There's definitely some things that everybody does, but, also we'll probably run a little more power and things like that and power-read and stuff that didn't necessarily get run as much when Bob was here. Our key is also that I do think we've got some excellent skill kids, and so we definitely want to open it up so that we can use that to our advantage and try and get mismatches and get what the defense is giving us.
- Previously in Two-a-Days: NORTH FORSYTH
- Up Next in Two-a-Days: NORTH HALL