Sunday July 5th, 2020 7:23PM

Two-a-Days: Wildcats, Stockton look to repeat 2017 season

By Jeff Hart Sports Reporter

There are just 29 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)...


A reloading Wildcats squad took a slight step back in 2018 after reaching the Class 2A championship game in 2017. But they also unleashed one of the top young quarterbacks in the state in Gunner Stockton.

Now a sophomore, and bigger and more polished, according to coach Jaybo Shaw, Stockton may have the best group of receivers in the northeast Georgia area. The biggest question for the Wildcats is can they rework the offensive line to give Stockton time to find his talented receiving corp?

QUESTION: Coach, y’all have touted that you may have the best set of skilled offensive players in the program’s history. With the maturation of Gunner Stockton at quarterback, just how good can this group get, barring injuries?

ANSWER: Yes, this is probably the best we have been as far as depth with guys having a lot of Friday night experience and having the ability to play multiple guys in multiple spots at the skill positions. Our skill guys as well as our entire football have a great sense of pride of knowing what to do, competing at everything we do, and knowing that your teammates can count on you. We have a really good mix of older veteran players -- three starters from the 2017 state runner-up team -- as well as some younger guys that were thrown into the fire last year. This group and this football team can be as good as they want to be as long as all of us continue to hold ourselves accountable and we keep the main thing the main thing.

Q: However, you also are replacing several key guys on the lines of scrimmage on both sides. How is progress coming along on reworking those groups?

A: I have been really proud of how far our offensive line and defensive line have come along since we first started working in late-January. Anytime you are having to replace guys on the offensive line as well as defensive line it is going to be a process and there is going to be some growing pains but our guys have been awesome and they are a very coachable group. Coach Ty Maxwell, Coach JayJay White, and Coach Tim Bragg have done a great job developing those guys and I look forward to watching them compete on Friday nights.

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