There are just 27 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)...
It has always been a tough place to win in Hiawassee with just one winning season in the program’s history. But second-year coach John Cornett is not buying into that notion as he prepares the Indians for the 2017 campaign. In fact, Cornett already has instilled an excitement in the school, one of the smallest in the state, that hasn’t been seen in nearly a decade. He told AccessWDUN that he feels they are close to turning what he thinks will be an historic corner.
QUESTION: Coach, what did you learn about the program in your first season as head coach?
ANSWER: First, I learned that these kids are hungry to win and that they never quit. Second, they worked extremely hard for us. I also saw by the end of the year that they were beginning to believe in themselves. The seniors this year already have the mentality that they want to have success. But the biggest thing to me is that we have 35 kids already coming out, which is a big number for us, and we’re starting our middle school program. Right now I feel things are very positive for the future and for us finding that success.
Q: That being said, you also graduated 15 players from last year, which was nearly half your roster. How do you replace those seniors in one of the smallest public school’s in the state?
A: Well, the way to replace 15 seniors is have 10 to 15 coming in right behind them. That’s a big number of graduating players for us. But the seniors this year already have stepped up as leaders as we get ready for this season. And like I said before, the group as a whole is starting to believe in what they are doing. Most of the losses for us will be on the offensive side of the ball so that has been our biggest area of focus so far. We have nine returning on defense so we feel like that will be an area of strength for us this year.