There are just 39 days remaining until the kickoff of the 2019 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 couple of weeks 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 two weeks, 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 Leopards were just a few short moments in a gut-wrenching loss to Monticello (36-33) from extending their program-best run of playoff appearances to three in 2018, despite another coaching change at the top.
In 2019, now second-year head coach Jay Reid and wing-T aficionado Kerry Kidd are ready to see if an offseason of on-the-field fine-tuning and off-the-field attitude changes are ready to pay off. However, another playoff run won’t come easy as Region 8-2A may be the deepest it's been in years in 2019.
QUESTION: Coach, will it be more a running back-by-committee as you try to fill the huge hole left in the backfield with the graduation of Terrance Walker?
ANSWER: It certainly could be but we feel that the backfield is a strong point for our football team. We return four guys in the backfield with a great amount of experience in Sawyer Pace, Sean Hall, Jonathan Moon, and Jace Bennett and although they lack some experience Chandler Payne, Roman Haynes, Bowen Roberts, Bryson Cheek, and Cade Herrin could have great seasons ahead of them. Each of these players have different skill sets which gives us the opportunity to utilize them in numerous ways and all have the potential to produce big plays at any time. The area that this group must improve is ball security as protecting the ball is our utmost priority. These guys are working hard at this skill and I believe they will show great improvement.
Q: Region 8-2A may be even tougher in 2019 with playoff stalwarts Rabun County, Union County, and Elbert County. Now, you have the emergence of teams like Monticello and maybe even Putnam County this year. What will be the keys to getting back into the playoffs?
A: There is certainly good competition in 8-2A and we have to play our best football each and every Friday night. That being said we have to focus on each and every game as they come. Making the playoffs is certainly a goal for our team and for us to achieve that we must be playing at a high level early in the season and maintain that level week after week while staying healthy. We had a good off-season within our strength and conditioning program and I believe this will help us finish games stronger and stay healthier throughout the course of the season.
- Up Next in Two-a-Days: BUFORD