There are just 38 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 War Eagles were as dynamic an offensive unit as there was in the area behind quarterback Christian Charles and wide receiver Seth Pressley, who were among the state's leaders in passing and receiving yards. The problem was a young defense learning a new system struggled, allowing the most points in Class 4A in 2018.
In 2019, Chestatee head coach Shaun Conley said they have put an extra emphasis on developing the defense and second-year coordinator Ben Corley may have the right pieces for an improved group. However, the War Eagles also will be rebuilding the offensive line as they prepare for a tough run through Region 7-4A once again.
QUESTION: Coach Conley, the defense was being rebuilt last year under new coordinator Ben Corley and suffered some growing pains for sure. How does Year 2 look for that unit as you approach fall practice?
ANSWER: In Year 2 our players are much more familiar with our scheme and terminology. They have a better grasp of their responsibilities within the plan as well. We return Robbie James at inside linebacker, Hunter Chambers and Matthew Smith at outside linebackers, David Woodard and Jesus Aguillares at defensive line, and Caleb Carter, Seth Pressley and Ethan Corley at defensive back. Matthew Jarrard also returns to defensive back after playing inside linebacker last season. Bryant Eddy and Jeronimo Marin also had playing experience last season and are returning. Our team has worked very hard in the offseason in preparation for this year. As a result, we have shown gains in our size, speed, and strength across the board. These gains, along with our returning experience, will make us a much improved defensive team as we head into the season.
Q: The offense has some dynamic playmakers in Christian Charles and Seth Pressley. But the offensive line has just one returning starter. How is putting that unit back together coming along?
A: Replacing four seniors on the offensive line is never an easy job. We have some guys up front that have been in the program for more than a year with limited Friday night experience, and another (Seth Sertain) who is rejoining us after a year off. We have some young guys that will be contributors as they develop this season as well. Jacob Gipson is the leader of the offensive line, and he brings a lot of playing experience to the table. He started every game last year and played regularly as a sophomore. Others that are looking to contribute are Abi Leon, Levi Stowers, Grant Siegfried, Erick Briseno, and Jackson Farris. Along with Charles and Pressley, returning skilled players Matthew Smith, Caleb Carter, and Matthew Jarrard have a considerable amount of experience on Friday nights. We are depending on this experienced senior class to provide needed support while our younger guys have a chance to develop up front.