There are just 24 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 Dragons are coming off a quarterfinal run in 2019. They have moved up a classification in 2020 and brought a ton of talent with them, including Power 5 standout Malaki Starks.
They are loaded at most every position. Finding a way to evenly spread the ball around to a plethora of playmakers may be one of their biggest problems. Dragons’ coach Gene Cathcart will have fun options on what should be an explosive offense.
However, if they have one Achilles Heel, it may be limited depth along the defensive line.
We asked Cathcarth about both those issues as they roll toward opening kickoff next month.
QUESTION: Coach, with a talent like Malaki Starks available to you, I’m sure there is temptation to give him the ball on every play. What is the best way to utilize a guy like that without wearing him out?
ANSWER: Certainly Malaki is a special and unique talent and we want to utilize his skill set and feature his talents, but we also return 14 of 17 Dragons who had rushing TD’s last year so we focus on distributing the ball to the multiple playmakers we are blessed to have. More than worrying about wearing Malaki or any one player out, we want to take what the defense gives us and play with great and rare unselfishness and physical toughness. The key will be Malaki and our other quarterbacks decision making and correct distribution of the football and that will only accentuate his talents and ability.
QUESTION: You come into the season with some issues up front on defense. Have you been able to develop some depth with that group in the offseason?
ANSWER: No. Without a spring practice or padded camps or any physical-type summer work the lines of scrimmage probably have been the most effected by the restrictions. We know we have some talented players on the line of scrimmage and return 3 or 4 guys who started many games on offense. The key is to get some quality minutes from some of our defensive linemen so those guys do not have to play so much football, especially against (Class) 4A teams with so much depth. Between some talented but not very experienced players and some hybrid players playing in more positions with their hand on the ground we have players who can be good defensive front defenders and allow us to be more multiple in our defensive looks and schemes.