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Sunday August 25th, 2019 4:27PM

Two-a-Days: Youthful Spartans' LB group could be one of area's best

By Jeff Hart Sports Reporter

There are just 27 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. 

Today is the final day of our series and AccessWDUN's Friday Game Night will continue to get you prepped for the start of gridiron action as we approach fall practice, which officially started on Thursday.

WEST HALL

The Spartans had a roller-coaster season in 2018 finishing with just three wins but also missed out on a sixth straight playoff appearance by just one game, which essentially came down to a 48-34 loss to White County.
 
Second-year head coach Krofton Montgomery said he is more prepared for his sophomore season at the helm but will have to deal with a lot of youth, which also happens to be pretty talented as well.

 

QUESTION: Coach, y’all return just seven total starters but you may have one of the best linebacking groups in Region 7-4A in senior Caden Collins and sophomores Talil Blackwell, Nick Sturm, and Caleb Baker. How good can that group be as a whole?

ANSWER: It’s a group that has a lot of potential to lead our defense with athleticism. That being said, they are very young with three sophomores in this group. Our linebacking core has to be playing at a high level for us to be successful defensively. Caden Collins has had a great offseason and has worked his way into great shape. Nick Sturm is the type of player that has a big upside, loves to compete and play football. Caleb Baker is our speed linebacker that is our fastest one of the unit that can play in coverage, blitz, and set the edge. Talil Blackwell is our biggest linebacker at 6-foot-2, 250-pounds and he is back healthy and has a knack to make plays.  

Q: As you enter fall practice the offensive line appears line. Who do you see stepping up to fill some of the holes in that group?

A: We have a lot of competition on the offensive line for the starting five spots. Jacob Gault is a returning starter at center that brings some stability. Hadden Schnell, Jaden Neal, Devin Meeks, Binh Hoang, and Thomas Tran are others that are competing for different spots on the line. Coach Riden does a great job of coaching this unit up and making things competitive day in day out. It’s definitely a big challenge for this unit to gel and allow for us to have consistency offensively. We have to control what we can control as coaches and players. Being consistent in our fundamentals is vital with the schedule we have before us.

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