There are just 31 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, sandpits 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)...
LANIER CHRISTIAN ACADEMY
After just four short seasons, the Lightning made their first playoff run in the GICAA in 2018. But they graduated their biggest senior class and a slew of key players.
The good news in 2019: they will offset that with another big senior class that was a part of the program’s most successful season to date. Second-year coach Blake Anderson will have some talent to work with as they try to keep the momentum going in 2019.
QUESTION: Coach, y'all are coming off your most successful season but also graduated the biggest senior class in the program's history. What will be the key to keeping the momentum going forward in 2019?
ANSWER: Last year was the third season of the LCA football program, and we celebrated two important program firsts with our first winning season and our first state playoff appearance. This year we will actually have our largest senior class ever and we believe the key to keeping the momentum going will be how well our senior class leads the team. Veteran seniors Bennett Backman, Luke McCoy, Gray Stephenson, Spencer Sanderson (2018 All-Region selection) and Charlie Vera (2018 All-Region selection) are ready to take ownership of this team. We also have senior newcomers Tim Brent, Dawson Jones, Kai Jorgensen, Johnny Louth, Landon Ogle, and Ray Montgomery ready to contribute. As a group, the influence and maturity of these 11 seniors will be essential to creating a culture of excellence for our team. Equally as important will be the leadership from our returning underclassmen starters. Juniors Wyatt Cash, Michael Everett, Andrew Perry, and Isaiah Williams along with sophomores Micah Adams and Ethan Jarrard make up a group that made significant contributions to our team success in 2018. With the unique team dynamics of a large senior class combined with underclassmen experience, we believe we have a great opportunity for continued success in 2019.
Q: The Lightning also are moving into a new district in the GICAA (now the Georgia Association of Private and Parochial Schools (GAPPS). How will that affect y'all being able to make another playoff run?
A: As of July 1, the GICAA changed its name and with that also came reclassification of all regions in the state for 2019. We will be competing in a very tough Region 1 in Class AA that includes Community Christian School (Stockbridge), who won the GICAA Class AAA state championship in 2018. The King’s Academy (Woodstock) will also be in our region this year and will present a great challenge for us when we host them on September 20 for Homecoming Night. After losing to The King’s Academy last year in a non-region contest, our team is eager for another opportunity to compete against them this year in region play. (If we can) compete well in our region schedule, we could have the opportunity to set up a Region 1-AA championship game on October 25 when we travel to Community Christian School the last week of the regular season. Regardless of the league changes, we still have to improve each week and focus on controlling what we can control: which is our effort, attitude, and toughness.