Monday November 29th, 2021 4:22PM

Coaches Corner: Area programs keep rolling as Week 8 has its challenges

By Bo Wilson Sports Editor

The main highlight of Week 7 was the annual rival game between White County and North Hall. North Hall was trying to solidify themselves as a Region 7-3A contender, and White County needed a win to stay in the hunt for the top spot. 

North Hall won the game, 34-31, in overtime, making it one of the best contests in the 48-year history of the rivalry. 

It was all part of a Week 7 that saw Cherokee Bluff continue rolling, Buford's grinding offense wore down Habersham Central, Commerce rolled past Greene County and Gainesville pulled off another Region 6-7A nail-biter at City Park against Lambert.

This week, North Oconee travels to Flowery Branch in a crucial Region 8-4A matchup, while Commerce and Towns County tangle in Region 8-A, North Hall looks to stay on top of the region with a win over Lumpkin at The Brickyard, Dawson County plays host to an improved Gilmer squad and Habersham Central looks to get back on track at Dacula.

Friday Game Night checked in with the area’s coaches to find out how Week 7 played out, and what are the keys to getting a win this week.

You can track these games on the FGN Twitter page @FridayGameNight  or the live scoreboard at Below are comments from the area’s coaches:

Banks County's Jay Reid on beginning Region 8-2A play ... 

"Union County is a well-coached ball team that doesn't make many mistakes or beat themselves. They control turnovers and are very patient in all three phases of the game.  Coach [Brian] Allison and his staff do a great job preparing their team and I expect them to come to Homer playing at a high level. For us, we are glad to finally reach region play and can't wait to get started this Friday Night." 

On the keys to the game ...

"For us to be successful, we have to control the turnovers and play a full 48 minutes of the high-level ball with good fundamentals in our blocking and tackling. We also cannot allow mistakes to compound as they did in our last two games. We have to do a better job of composing ourselves when/if setbacks occur and simply play the next play."

Chestatee's Shaun Conley on East Hall ... 

"I think, obviously, we will need to try and control their big-play potential. They have multiple receivers and backs that can make you pay quickly for any mistakes.  Their quarterback [Clete Cooper] has matured in their system and is comfortable in what they want to do. Those 2 things make a spread team dangerous."

On the keys to the game ... 

For us, offensively we just need to play more consistent- at times we move the ball and execute pretty well- we have to increase the consistency to be competitive.  

Commerce's Michael Brown on playing an improved Towns County ... 

We will have our hands full with Towns... They do a great job offensively making you defend every inch of grass and have playmakers at every position. 

Dawson County's Sid Maxwell says the team regrouped during the off week ... 

"It was good to regroup and focus on our team individual fundamentals. We have to keep working to improve each day if we want to meet the challenges of finishing strong in our region."

On the keys to beating Gilmer ... 

"Gilmer has improved each week and does a great job running the Wing-T offense. It is tough to play with all the misdirection and trying to find the football is definitely going to be a task for our defense. We need to continue to produce on offense and our defense to keep Gilmer from long drives to keep our offense off the field. Special teams and ball security are always important factors to give your team a much-needed edge."

East Hall's Michael Perry on his team being quarantined for the past two weeks ... 

"​Well, we haven't been around each other for a while now and can't do anything until Thursday as a team. I have never experienced anything close to this and hopefully, we can get something accomplished before our game Saturday. We have to create turnovers on defense and limit turnovers on offense and win the kicking game."

East Jackson's Cameron Pettus on Monroe Area ... 

"Kevin [Reach] has built that into a very solid program. They play hard and are well-coached. The key I think to beat them is containing their quarterback. He is lightning in a bottle. They also have a good RB and receiving group.

On the keys to the game ...

"[We] must tackle well in space. Our offense is really hitting their stride, so we must continue to score points but limit the turnovers we had from last week. We almost threw for 300 yards last week and ran for over 80 yards. [We need to] keep on getting better as a team. I am very excited about the direction we are headed. Go Eagles!"


Habersham Central's Benji Harrison on Dacula ... 

They are good as usual. They are big and athletic. We have to attack. We have to be aggressive on defense and not worry about being perfect -- make our mistakes 100 mph and not be hesitant. We have to play downhill defensively. Offensively, we have to be balanced. We need to get our run game going early and be physical. Then we have to simply throw and catch.  We have to have better timing in our passing game and cut it loose."

Jackson County's Rich McWhorter on Johnson ... 

"Johnson is a very well-coached team. Their players don’t quit. We are not a good enough team to overlook them, if we do, we’ll get beat."

Jefferson's Gene Cathcart on Cedar Shoals... 

"Coach [Leroy] Ryals is a great friend and coach and has done an incredible job everywhere he has been and the job he is doing at Cedar Shoals is no exception. They have been 16-8 the last two years in Class 5A and have advanced to the Sweet 16 in each of those years. This year, they are battle-tested in non-region play by playing Clarke Central to a 10-3 game, defending Class 4A state runner-up Oconee [County] and traditional power St. Pius and not only are they battle-tested, but they come into this game 2-0 in the region, and we know that they will be ready to play this Friday. They are that combination of being both very athletic and very well-coached, and they have tremendous team speed and have improved a great deal from the start of the season until now. It concerns us that they played their best game of the year this past Friday night and we were not able to play. Hopefully, our players will understand that none of those first four non-region games have any impact on the season restarting for everyone anew with region play, and we will be mature enough to understand that teams that get the big picture, embrace the fact that the playoffs actually begin in region play and that every Friday is a playoff game of sorts. The only record of any account is that we are both 2-0 and only one of us will be 3-0 after Friday night's game."


Lakeview's Lee Shaw on playing King's Ridge ... 

"This is a big region game for us. Coach [Terry] Crowder and staff do a great job. We once again will be playing against a disciplined wing-T attack. Trusting our keys and reads will be crucial. They will also be running a very aggressive 30 defense."

Lumpkin County's Caleb Sorrells on North Hall ... 

"They are MUCH improved! Coach [David] Bishop lost a ton of experience last year, and he knew it was going to take a while to get this team back up to their standard of execution. I was really hoping we'd see them BEFORE they got it figured out, but they are a machine again. Their kids play really hard, and they have a great command of their assignments. It's the same for us every week: control what we can control, which is our effort and focus. We are playing ourselves as much as any opponent, so we are going to focus on getting better this week." 

North Hall's David Bishop on Lumpkin County ... 

"What I know about Lumpkin is that they are very young. The keys to the game will be to continue to strive to improve this week in all three phases of the game, and don’t have a letdown after a big and emotional win."

Towns County's Jason Roquemore on his program's return after quarantine ... 

"I think we all are grateful just to get back together. Our kids have done a good job adapting throughout the process -- missing the grass time hurts, but it is what it is and we only need to spend time and energy on the things we can control."

On the keys to beating top-5 ranked Commerce ... 

"Well, first of all, you better strap it up. They are very physical within the line of scrimmage on both sides of the football and are coached extremely well in all three phases. We will need to protect the football offensively and try to find a way to get off the field on defense."

Union County's Brian Allison on Banks County ... 

"Banks is a well-coached football team. They did lose some key players off last year's team. They like to run the ball. We will have to be strong against the run and do a great job protecting the ball."

West Hall's Krofton Montgomery on White County ... 

"White County has been playing a high level of football this season, especially on the offensive side. They are very well-coached and don’t rely on one player to move the ball. They are good at getting it into the hands of the open man and making plays all over the field. When the quarterback [J. Ben Haynes] is in he is the best quarterback we’ve seen this year, and he has all the tools that make him as successful as he is."

On the keys to the game ...  
"We have to limit the big plays and keep them in front of us, sustain drives offensively and make the plays that are there. We've also got to do our no matter the circumstance throughout a 48-minute game and eliminate turnovers."

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