Monday May 29th, 2023 5:42AM

Coaches Corner: Week 12 has the potential to be the best of the year

By Bo Wilson Sports Editor

And here we are ... Week 12. It's been a long and, at times, a tumultuous season with COVID-19 trying to halt it at every corner. But many northeast Georgia teams have persevered through it. 

Week 11 had several wow moments, including a back-and-forth Region 7-3A title game between Cherokee Bluff and North Hall. The Bears took control in the second half to get the 41-24 win, and the program's first region title. Gainesville fell to Denmark 24-21 after rallying back to tie the game 21-21. Lakeview Academy earned the program's first playoff berth and Commerce knocked off Washington-Wilkes to set up a Region 8-A championship game against Lincoln County this week. 

Friday Game Night checked in with the area’s coaches to find out how Week 11 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:

Chestatee's Shaun Conley on playing Cedar Shoals ...

"They are extremely athletic this year. The keys for us stay the same -- control what we can and take care of the details."

Commerce's Michael Brown on playing Lincoln County for the Region 8-A title ... 

"Lincoln is big, fast and well-coached They play great defense and are hard to stop offensively. I think the game will be won or lost in the trenches. Like us, they are a ball-control offense that eats up the clock on long drives. We will have to win first down on both sides of the ball Friday night.

Dawson County's Sid Maxwell on playing North Hall for a home playoff spot ... 

"It has always been a tough game since I have been at Dawson.  Coach [David] Bishop and his staff do a tremendous job. We have to take care of the football and play fundamentally in all phases. The wing-T is tough to defend and keeping your defense discipline is key for our success. We have to keep improving as the playoffs are approaching and it would be nice to play the opening round at home."

East Hall's Michael Perry on playing Flowery Branch ... 

"Flowery Branch has an exceptional quarterback that is the best we have gone against all year. He can hurt you with his arm or his legs. I get more impressed every time I see him. They have one of the best tight ends and running backs that you will find in high school. Our defense has to get turnovers and force field goals instead of giving up touchdowns to give us a chance. They have some really productive defensive linemen that will be a handful. We are going to have to execute and score often. Coach [Ben] Hall and his staff do a tremendous job with their players."

East Jackson's Cameron Pettus on playing Stephens County ... 

"They have had a solid year and sit at 5-3 and have been off last couple of weeks due to COVID-19. So, I know they are hungry and ready to play. We have to keep improving and put a complete game together. Our region is one of the toughest in the state and we have to just keep getting better each week. We must keep closing the gap with our region opponents.  I'm very proud of our seniors, we just have to continue to grow this program and improve. Go Eagles!"

Gainesville's Heath Webb on playing North Forsyth ...

"They've got a good football team that is always well-coached and plays hard. They're very multiple on offense and use a lot of shifts and motions. We've got to make sure we get lined up properly and then play fast while creating turnovers. They've got two big backs that are tough to tackle. Defensively, they play great team defense. They show a lot of looks and love to blitz. We've got to make sure we get our assignments right. This should be another one of those close region games that could come down to special teams and turnovers."

Habersham Central's Benji Harrison on playing Shiloh on Saturday ...

"We have to be physical. We have to continue to do a good job of getting a lot of hats to the ball and tackling these guys that can really run. We must be the more physical team. Offensively, get our run game going early and often and create some big plays in the passing game. We have to win the line of scrimmage."

Jefferson's Gene Cathcart on playing Madison County ... 

They are still mathematically alive for the playoffs so we know we will get their absolute best effort Friday night. They return seven All-Region players from last year and have a talented group of players who have become accustomed to making the playoffs and are competitors. Scheme wise, they are similar to us, offensively, with a good bit more wing-T influence and have had some very explosive high scoring games. Defensively, they have played very well against good competition. They held a very good high-scoring Monroe Area team to only 14 points, and East Hall, who averages close to 30, to 6 points last Friday. Another concern, obviously, is not being able to play this past Friday also and trying to make sure we continue to be playing well as we head into the playoffs best week."

Lumpkin County's Caleb Sorrells on playing West Hall... 

"They are talented on defense and have some great cornerbacks, some really good looking linebackers, and a big noseguard that moves really well to be that big. They aren't afraid to take some chances and be aggressive, but they pick their spots and mix things up pretty well. Offensively, they have the Class 3A leading wide receivers -- in terms of yards -- and he doesn't even lead their team in receptions. So, clearly, they have multiple weapons on the perimeter.  They have a quarterback that can spin it, so we have our hands full defensively, making sure our eyes are in the right spot, and we are keeping them in front of us. Our focus is still on getting better. Challenging our team to play the best football they've played in their lives this week like we've done for several weeks now. We will prepare and study and compete and fight and let the results take care of themselves."  

North Hall's David Bishop on playing Dawson County for a home playoff game ... 

"It seems like déjà vu -- three years in a row for the remaining home playoff spot in the last week of the season.  Both games have been close and have gone down to the wire with each team winning one. In order to win, we must control the clock and keep the ball out of the hands of their explosive offense. They have very good special teams play and we cannot give up points in that phase of the game either."

Towns County's Jason Roquemore on playing Washington-Wilkes... 

"They are extremely athletic and well-coached. They have several players that are 'special' in space.  Defensively, we can't give up the explosive plays and try to make them earn it.  Offensively, we will need to stay ahead of the chains, and winning first down will be huge this week.

West Hall's Krofton Montgomery on playing Lumpkin County...

"Lumpkin is a well-coached team that is playing hard every game and getting better on film. The keys to the game will be overcoming COVID quarantines, win the turnover battle, play for each other selflessly and efficiently, and just enjoy the ability to strap it up and play on a Friday night for a game 10 when so much uncertainty existed in early fall."

White County's Tim Cokely on playing Cherokee Bluff on Friday... 

"They are undefeated and region champions and have high-level talent at the skill positions and good size. Since we are coming off an off week, we need to play well early. It should be a fun game."


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