There are just 31 days remaining until the kickoff of the 2020 high school football season. But make no mistake, despite the COVID-19 outbreak, swirling uncertainty since April, and the cancelation of spring practice, preparations for the upcoming campaign have been underway throughout the state since early June. 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 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)...
Despite a switch into Region 8-4A, and out of the ridiculously tough 7-4A, things won’t get much easier for the War Eagles in 2020. They still have one of the most dynamic playmakers in the state in senior quarterback Christian Charles but they graduated one of the state’s best receivers in Seth Pressley.
Even more may be asked of Charles in 2020 but an improving defense also could hold the key to any success.
We discussed those two topics with coach Shaun Conley as they prepared for another tough campaign.
QUESTION: Coach, the defense last year was better than the numbers may indicate, Y’all allowed 16 points less per game than in 2018 and are more experienced coming into this season to go with some quality youth. Do you think the defense may hold the key to the season?
ANSWER: Our defense was a much improved unit a year ago. I believe this was a result of our kids being more comfortable with the system. With that being said, I do believe we have a chance to improve this year as well. We have some key players returning starting with Ethan Corley at safety. He is the captain on that side of the ball. Being a three-year starter, he is comfortable and confident in getting us in the correct call and alignment which is where it all starts on defense. We also have depth returning up front on that side of the ball. Jeronimo Marin, Harrison Mitchell, and Anakin Rowland all saw substantial time there last year. Zazo Dollyhigh will also play a role up front. With the loss of a couple of four-year starters, we will have some players have to step in at the linebacker position. We are looking for Ethan Clark, Brice Dickson to fill spots vacated at inside linebackers while Drew Knickle and Elijah Pruitt look to fill the spots outside.
QUESTION: You did graduate one of the best receivers in the state but you said the offense could be even better this year despite a lack of star power at the wide receiver position. How so?
ANSWER: Our offense is built around the philosophy of spreading the ball around and getting as many players involved as we can. We feel confident in the fact that this year we will be able to do just that. We will return 5 players with game experience at the skill positions. Wyatt Goode, Hayden Gowin, Christian Jarrard, Elijah Pruitt, and Luke Bornhorst all have varsity experience and will play huge roles for us this year. We will have to fill some spots up front but returners Grant Siegfried and Levi Stowers will anchor. that group. We also have three-year starter Christian Charles returning at QB. He is as dynamic as any player I have coached in my 27 years. He is extremely confident and comfortable in our system and has the athletic ability that makes him hard to defend. If we are able to get all our skill guys close to equal number of touches and utilize Charles athletic ability, we should be difficult to defend.