Tuesday January 19th, 2021 7:44AM

Coaches Corner: Week 1 questions answered; Buford, Chestatee, EHall, Lakeview open this week

By Bo Wilson Sports Editor

A sigh of relief could be heard across northeast Georgia on Friday night around 7:35. All of the area's games went off without a hitch -- as far as kickoff goes. 

As coaching goes, there's always going to be a hitch in something, whether it's a botched snap, bad punt or just plain old sloppiness in the season opener, coaches always find areas to improve on. 

Friday Game Night checked in with the area’s coaches to find out how Week 1 played out, what they learned and the keys to getting a win this week. For Buford, Chestatee, East Hall and Lakeview, they'll kick off the season on Friday. 

You can track these games on the FGN twitter page at or on the live scoreboard at Below are comments from the area’s coaches:

Buford's Bryant Appling on summer prep and the struggle to fill the schedule... 

"Prep has definitely been different this year. I feel more like a manager/medical assistant, with all the attendance and temperature checks than a coach. I will say this, our coaches, players and parents have done great with all of the last-minute changes and additions.

On keys to getting a win over North Cobb ... 
"We have to minimize mistakes. Without spring practice, OTA's and scrimmages will make everyone play sloppy in the first couple weeks of this season.
We've also got to play sound in special teams and manage game situations and depth rotations early. North Cobb has the advantage of playing a game already. This is the first time this Buford team has been on the field together. Hopefully, we can ride the early waves of momentum to have a chance late in the game."

Dawson County's Sid Maxwell on what the staff learned from Week 1's loss to Cass ...

"We struggled from play one to get going in this game making it a long night, and learned, as a coaching staff, that our fundamentals must be a focus this week. We will work to correct our mistakes to give us an opportunity for future success this week. Cass maintained great field advantage through their kicking game that kept us in a hole and the momentum on their side all night. As a team, we need to overcome and battle through these types of games with tremendous team effort."

On the keys to a win against Flowery Branch on Friday ... 
"It is a must to put the focus on us -- especially improving and continue to reinforce our fundamentals. We have another opportunity to evaluate our personnel to build toward region play.  We need to execute for 48 minutes on all phases of the game. The opportunity to play a solid Flowery Branch team will be a great test for us. Our key to a victory is taking care of the football, team effort and execute on all phases."

Cherokee Bluff's Tommy Jones on what his team learned in Week 1 ...

"I thought that we played with a great deal of energy and enthusiasm. Our kids were excited to finally get back under the lights. For the most part, I thought we executed relatively well for a first game. There are still a ton of things that we need to clean-up."
On the keys to beating Chestatee ... 

"Chestatee has a highly explosive football team. They have the ability to score from anywhere on the field. They are well-coached on both sides. It is going to take a tremendous effort in every phase to be successful. We have to be able to execute with great discipline, effort and speed." 

Chestatee's Shaun Conley on the long summer of preparation ...

"It seems like the prep for the season has been long, but we feel good about where we are right now.  Personally, I miss the scrimmage because were able to actually see our guys go against someone else and get some of the normal first game stuff fixed. Unfortunately, we did get a scrimmage this year, so Cherokee Bluff will be it, and it's a real one."

On playing Cherokee Bluff to open the season ...

"I think the keys to that game will be ys being able to contain their big-play guys and how we react if they get lost. We have to take care of the things we can control and play with great effort. Cherokee Bluff is a good team, and we will have to play with great energy." 

Commerce's Michael Brown on what his team learned in a big Week 1 win over Banks County ... 

"We learned that we have a lot to work on. We did a lot of good things Friday night, but we now have plenty of things to come back and work to improve this week. We had too many busted assignments, and we got very sloppy on our fundamentals as the game progressed and fatigue set in."

On the keys to beating Union County ... 
"Union County is a well-coached, very disciplined team. We will need to eliminate the busted assignments and miscues from last week to give ourselves a chance to be competitive."

East Hall's Michael Perry on the long preseason preparation ... 

"We are so excited that we finally get to play someone other than us!  It has been the longest pre-season ever. We have dealt with COVID-19 and quarantining and all that mess just like everyone else has, so we are all in the same boat. Our kids are working hard to ensure that they are making the most of every snap this season and, and I think they have realized how lucky they are to get a chance to play the game that they love."

On the keys to getting a win against in-county rival West Hall ...  
"We have to force turnovers on defense, tackle guys in space and make red-zone stops. Offensively, we have to execute our protections, routes, and catch the football. We have to win the special teams battle period. You have seen a lot of sloppy football so far and a lot of that has been in that particular area."

Flowery Branch's Ben Hall on what his team learned in a loss to St. Pius X in Week 1 ... 

"I am proud of the way that our players competed for four quarters. We watched a lot of young ones get better throughout the course of the game and were able to identify several areas that need adjusting."
On the keys to beating Dawson County on the road Friday ...

"We must be able to shift our focus from the triple option and adjust to their two-quarterback spread ​system."

Habersham's Benji Harrison on what he learned from Week 1's win over Madison County ... 

"I think they were just a lot of questions going in because we hadn’t had the normal summer, pre-season scrimmages, etc. I saw what I expected and that was to play with great effort and enthusiasm which they did. I thought we played pretty clean considering all of that.

On getting a win over Apalachee this week on the road ... 

"We have to tackle well. They are really good at what they do, so we have to be very disciplined on defense. Offensively, we have to win up front and control the line of scrimmage."

Jefferson's Gene Cathcart on the season opener against Class 7A Central Gwinnett ...

"We are excited about kicking the season off this Friday and are also proud of how our guys have worked and managed this challenging off-season. Practices have been really good and while we are ready to compete against someone other than ourselves, we have a great deal of respect for 1-0 AAAAAAA Central Gwinnett. Most coaches agree that a team’s most improvement comes from game 1 to game 2, so we know-especially this year with no scrimmages-that having a game under their belt is an advantage for Central Gwinnett. 

On the keys to a win ... 

"They are very well-coached and have some really good playmakers and we will have to play very well in all three phases of the game."

Lakeview's Lee Shaw on the unexpected Week 1 cancellation against Mt. Paran ... 

If anything, we got better with our senior leadership because of this unexpected cancellation. They really stepped up and became the glue to our football program."

On playing top-10 ranked Darlington on the road ... 

"We can’t turn the ball over and give Darlington any hidden advantage. They are ranked No. 10 in the State for a reason. They are very physical upfront. We have to play with physicality. It’s a game that will prepare us for region play."

North Hall's David Bishop on what he learned in Week 1's loss to Paulding County ... 

"As expected, our kids played very hard, and when you play that hard, good things will overcome some deficits. On offense, our inexperience showed but everything we saw is fixable."

On the keys to a road win against Stephens County on Friday ...

"We have to execute our offense the way it is designed to be done, as well as continuing to improve on defense."

Towns County's Jason Roquemore on what he learned in Week 1's loss to Armuchee ...

"Our kids never quit. I was very proud of their effort."


On the keys to a win against Bethlehem Christian on Friday ...

"We must do a better job of taking care of the football and taking advantage of red zone opportunities."

West Hall's Krofton Montgomery on what his team learned in Week 1's loss to Jackson County ...

"I learned that we are vastly improved in all facets of a football team. We played hard for 48 minutes and executed the majority of the night on defense and special teams. The factor that broke our back was turnovers. We had five they had two. Without those, I felt like we played well enough to win unfortunately they happened and that’s the reality of it. Of the five turnovers, two of them were forced and three of them were errors on our part. We can’t beat anyone if we don’t clean that up. We have to wash that game and focus on this Friday getting better in every facet of the game and eliminating mental and physical mistakes. We had players that knew that had opportunities and are going to work to minimize these miscues.
On the keys to beating East Hall on Friday ...

"East Hall is to be able to play fast and stay disciplined. They do a lot of things on the offensive side that will tax a defense to cover every area of a field. We need to establish our running game early offensively and play within ourselves to give us the best chance on Friday. I know our players are looking forward to getting back after it this week and getting the lights back on this Friday." 

White County's Tim Cokely on what his team learned in the Week 1 win over Stephens County ... 

We learned that when we play without mistakes we are pretty good. We also learned that the White County fans are ready for some football. 

On the keys to beating a top-five ranked Hart County ...

"Hart County has the most prolific offense in Class 3A. They have the legendary coach Rance Gillespie. We will have to play well in all three phases to beat them."



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