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 week, 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)...
After zero state playoff appearances in their first 30 seasons, the Panthers have put themselves into the conversation over the last half-dozen years with three trips to the playoffs over the last seven campaigns. Many have considered the Panthers program a hidden gem waiting to be discovered.
We may get a true sense of just what they are capable of with the addition of sure-to-be Hall of Fame coach Rich McWhorter now leading the program. McWhorter is among the winningest active coaches in the state after spending 28 years at Charlton County, capturing four state titles.
QUESTION: Coach, your success speaks for itself and we’re glad to have you in the northeast Georgia area teaching our young people. But what have been the biggest challenges you have faced during the offseason as you try to bring the Panthers into the upper-tier in a tough region?
ANSWER: When I left Charlton County after 28 years as head football, a new challenge was what I was looking for. The transition here has been great! (There’s been) great support from the top down.
Q: The defensive front-seven looks like it could be a good one with guys like Andrew King and Brandon Fisher on the line opening lanes for what should be a talented linebacking unit. Will the defense be the key group early on as you try and fit the right pieces into the offensive puzzle?
A: The defensive line should be the strongest unit on the team. We feel like that our lineman and linebackers are further ahead than other units (right now), although the offense of line we think will be good. But our secondary will be young and we're still searching for answers and playing a lot of kids hoping that some of the guys will step up.
(The next round of Two-a-Days will begin on Monday, July 22 with Jefferson.)