There are just 28 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 Falcons were just three plays from taking down the eventual state champion (Blessed Trinity) and the No. 1-ranked team in Cartersville in 2019. Over the past two seasons coach Ben Hall and staff have built the Falcons into a state power, especially on the defensive side.
But a move into a new-and-improved Region 8-4A and having to replace several key starters on defense may well prove if they have reached elite status.
We asked coach Hall about how playing against the state’s perennial powerhouses the past two seasons has prepared them for what they hope is a deep playoff run in 2020.
QUESTION: Coach, you have some key holes to fill on a defense that was among the state’s elite units. Who are some guys that could have some breakout seasons on that side of the ball?
ANSWER: We benefited from some very talented players during 2019 season. Players like Connor Mayfield, Chase Dial-Watson, Chandler Dial-Watson, Colby Brookshire, Taylor Reeves, Dougie Pena, Grant Lackey, Jerry Passmore, Rafay Choudhry, and Carlos Espinoza served as great leaders for the defensive unit during their time. Thankfully, the guys behind them are eager to play and show what they can do, too. On the defensive line, Clay Anderson, Anthony Menjivar, Gavin Roberts, Shaun Shockley, Zion Moon, Devin Maddox, Chandler Mayfield, Yolando Barrett, Cole Pimentel, Cal Rockenbach, Sam Westbrook, and Brandon Shiloh will be competing our teams deepest unit. At Linebacker, Jerzee Allentini, Daiveyon Stephens, Mason Lackey, Christian Mendoza, and Hunter Adams all gained experience last season and will lead the group. In the secondary: Tre Augustine, Max Eubanks, P.J. Stringer, Jacob Costello, Jake Beaver, Nick Linkowski, Drake Smitherman, and Luke Fisher all will be competing for playing time on a unit that graduated four starters. These kids have the talent, intelligence, and toughness needed to be successful. It should be fun watching our defense grow and find their identity.
Q: Despite moving to a new region, you have another tough schedule. How has playing in one of the state’s best regions the last two years (7-4A) helped prepare the Falcons as you continue to build the Falcons into a state power?
A: Playing good teams makes your program better. When we compete in games that matter from week to week it creates a continued excitement for the school and community; at the same time it forces the team to narrow its focus and prepare consistently. Region 7 was a highly competitive region in 2019 just like Region 8 will be this season.