There are just 29 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)...
The Eagles garnered three wins in 2019, more than the previous two seasons combined under new coach Cameron Pettus. And with 12 returning starters, they are hoping that will translate into taking another step to getting the program back on solid ground.
A talented defense may have to lead the way as the offense tries to find a replacement for 1,300-yard rusher Nino Brown, who graduated.
Pettus said the program is poised to taking more strides upward but knows it won;t be easy in a brutal Region 8-4A.
QUESTION: Coach, y’all have a lot of experience coming back on both sides of the ball but you do face a difficult region schedule. Which is the bigger key to the season, an improving defense or finding someone to make up for the loss of Brown?
ANSWER: I think we have to do both effectively and also add a third part to the equation. Our defense has to stop the run to win in our region. We have to be better tacklers and get off the field on third down. We did a great job with turnovers and scoring on defense, we just have to do that in region play. Running back is so crucial to our offense. Replacing a 1,300 yard rusher is a priority. We have two players in Marques Greene and Gary Maddox who will share the duties. Both are excellent football players for us and will do a great job. The third part is we have to complete passes. In the RPO system we run it is a crucial part of our attack. We must take advantage of what the defense is giving us and make the play. Our QB's in Greg Huggs and Randy Smith are doing a great job distributing the ball this summer. Luke Lindey, Kahlil Watkins, RJ White are doing great catching the ball at receiver and Zach Ardis and Tyler Crow at TE/H back are doing well.
QUESTION: With more wins last year than the previous two seasons, how critical is it to add to the win total in 2020 as you build the Eagles back up?
ANSWER: As we continue to build this program we must take positive steps forward each season. Last year I thought we competed well and played better than the previous couple of years. We lost a couple close games that we will learn to win moving forward. You have to have the mindset and it started in the weight room this off season. I feel that our players did a really great job of buying into the culture and guidance of our coaches. It carried over when Covid hit and we were sent home. Our kids did a great job of working on their own, they came back and looked like men. We expect hard work and intensity from our players on a daily basis (and) I think our community and fans will see the fruits of our labor this season.