There are just 34 days remaining until the kickoff of the 2018 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 Raiders finally broke through the playoff wall in 2018 and coach Benji Harrison thinks they are ready to make that a yearly excursion. But they will face some tough challenges in 2019.
Region 8-6A may be better than last season as Apalachee and Gainesville should be much-improved and Harrison will be breaking in Habersham’s third defensive coordinator in as many seasons.
QUESTION: Coach, y’all are coming off the program’s best season since 2007 [7-5, second round of Class 6A playoffs, first playoff win since 2007]. How different has the mood been walking around the practice fields knowing that perhaps the corner has been turned?
ANSWER: Last year was a fun year for our program. I think it has definitely been helpful in the fact that these guys know the amount of work that was put in to be able to do what we did last year. I think our players now carry themselves a little differently because they have a greater belief in what we are capable of doing. There is definitely a different vibe among our team so far this season.
Q: You have experience on both sides of the ball this season but will be breaking in your third defensive coordinator (former Jackson County head coach Brandon Worley) in as many seasons. What changes are in store for that unit in 2019?
A: We are changing some things up a little. These were changes that we were planning on doing anyways based on what we thought was best for our personnel. I think Brandon Worley and Tanner Rogers, who are running the defense, have done a great job of putting their flavor to what we want to be.