Saturday July 24th, 2021 5:40PM

Coaches Corner: Area programs continue building for region play

By Bo Wilson Sports Editor

Last week gave fans several exciting moments, including the thrilling late drive by Flowery Branch to knock off Gainesville, and Jefferson's defense proved it's just as good, if not better than last year, in a 28-14 win over Class 2A No. 1-ranked Rabun County.

Week 4 continues this week and has former Region 8-5A rivals Clarke Central and Buford teeing it up at Tom Riden Stadium. The Gladiators beat Buford last year to win the region title, so the Wolves will be looking for revenge on Friday. 

Week 4 also brings us closer to region play, set to start next week for some, and for the rest on Oct. 9.

Friday Game Night checked in with the area’s coaches to find out how Week 2 played out, what they learned and the keys to getting a win this week.

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

Banks County's Jay Reid says getting better is the main focus ...

"Each week we have continued getting better and better, which is the main focus right now. I felt like we played a really good ball game last week and it was one of the most exciting games I’ve ever coached in. Unfortunately, penalties really hurt us down the stretch as we had multiple scores erased. As with any team, penalties and turnovers must be controlled, we showed a lot of improvement with ball security but penalties really hurt us."

On the keys to beating Lumpkin County ... 

"For us to be successful this week, we need to play our most efficient game yet. We’ve got to compete for 48 minutes, control the turnovers and penalties and make plays when the opportunity arises. I expect to see our offense to continue to gel and our defense to show improvement in technique and tackling."

Commerce's Michael Brown says fundamentals hurt them against No. 1-ranked Athens Academy last week ...

"We got beat on details and fundamentals more than any other area against Athens. The game is blocking, tackling and running, and we were not very good at carrying out assignments in those areas."

On beating Elbert County ...

"The effort was good for the most part, but we have a lot of work to do to get our team better this week. How much improvement we make will show up Friday night against a very athletic and well-coached Elbert team.

Dawson County's Sid Maxwell says fixing the little things will be a priority this week ...

"We are still not doing the little things that are necessary to beat good football teams.  I am proud of the team's effort for 48 minutes, but with one returning starter on defense, we are struggling to play fundamentally sound defense." 

On the keys to beating Northview on Friday ... 

"Northview is a talented team and loves to throw the football. We finally have a past game video to analyze. For us to be successful we will need to defend the pass and contain a running quarterback. Also, keep improving on offense we need to establish and improve our running game.

East Hall's Michael Perry on the close loss to Franklin last week ... 

"Our kids continue to fight regardless of being down early. The effort is there. We just have to clean up some things offensively. I am proud of how our defense is playing. The key is to improve in all phases from week to week."
On the keys to beating Johnson ...

"We have to execute offensively and play within our offense. We must take what the defense gives us and be welcome to take the layups instead of the deep threes. Defensively, we must recognize formations. Johnson runs an offense that is really unique from everyone else. We have to fix the mistakes we made this past week and get ready for Friday night.

East Jackson's Cameron Pettus on the comeback win over Banks County last week ...

"We found out just how tough and resilient we are. Down 16-0 in the 4th quarter, our kids battled back with two TD's and two 2 point conversions. We just kept believing. Love these kids, our staff and this community. It was a great day to be an Eagle."

On the keys against Gilmer ...

"We have to stop the run, they are wing T and do a very good job of running the football. They are going to be a tough physical test for our defense. Offensively, we have to get the ball in our playmakers' hands and get some points on the board.  The special teams last week were very good. I think it was the hidden factor that helped us win the game. We need to continue to play great special teams because it's usually the deciding factor in close games."

Gainesville's Heath Webb says his team fought to the "bitter end" against Flowery Branch ...

"I learned that this team will compete to the bitter end. Do we have some things to fix? Certainly. But if we can continue to get that kind of effort, then I'm sure we can fix those things. We made mistakes but we made them going 100 mph. I can live with that. Nick Saban once said, "never let a loss go to waste" meaning there is something to learn. We will learn from it, make some adjustments and move forward." 

On the keys to beating Discovery this week ...

"We have to put the lessons learned from last week into action. We've got to take the ball away. We've got to secure tackles. We've got to win at the line of scrimmage and create explosive plays."

Jackson County's Rich McWhorter says eliminating penalties is a focus this week ... 

"First of all, congratulations to Coach Tankersley and the entire Stephens County Football Team for a hard-fought gritty win on Friday, they have a bright future ahead with some phenomenal young talent across the board. As far as we are concerned, we must eliminate penalties. We committed eight penalties on offense totaling 160 total yards taken off the board, and two of those penalties brought back touchdowns. It does not matter how talented of a team you are if you are constantly working from behind the chains, committing pre-snap penalties, you make it next to impossible to win a football game."

On the keys to beating Franklin County ... 

"Franklin County is an extremely well-coached, disciplined team that has played as well as anyone in the first three weeks of the season. They line up and hit you in the mouth, then break the huddle and do it all over again. It is a game that you see just how tough your team is, and we must be willing to stand in there for 4 quarters and match their toughness every step of the way. We have to eliminate penalties, and we must be efficient and effective at each position on offense and defense. We know this game will be a battle, and this will be a great test for our team before we kick off region play next week."

Jefferson's Gene Cathcart on beating Rabun County last week ... 

"We were very proud of our team, especially considering that it was Rabun county's 3rd game and our guys had played about 1 half of football. We started slow and Rabun County played very well, but we were extremely proud of our defense who held the Wildcats to 12 first downs, 23 carries for 94 yards rushing and 8 of 20 passing for 127 yards and only 14 points. Offensively, we had 400 yards of offense (377 rushing) and an important edge in plays (64 to 43) and time of possession (over 7-minute difference). We continued to play very well on both lines of scrimmage and Malaki (Starks) had another outstanding game at QB for us. Our guys played with great effort and very physical football but we must continue to work and clean up our mistakes and use games, not only to compete but also as a learning experience. The only way to grow in games like Friday are to play in those competitive playoff atmosphere type games and with the quality of the teams on our schedule and in our region, we have no choice but to show up each and every Friday with our "A" game and improve and grow in each of those contests."

On the keys to beating Mountain View on Friday ... 

"Mountain view is a very impressive Class 7A football team that has outstanding size, speed and depth. After beating Shiloh to open the season, they played Parkview (then the #33 ranked team in the country) extremely tough and almost beat a very talented and highly ranked Class 6A team in Lanier, 27-20. They are very well-coached and have been called one of the most improved teams in Class 7A this season. They throw the football very well with a gifted QB and several college prospects at receiver. This will be a great challenge against a very fine football team, and we will have to execute very well in all phases against a team that is destined to have a great season in the state's largest classification." 

Lakeview's Lee Shaw on the Lions' off week ...

"The off week allowed us to really review and correct the mistakes we made. That was the first time this coaching staff coached a game together as well as many of the players playing in their first Friday night game."

On the keys to beating Walker on Friday ... 

"Keys to the game will be for our defense to limit the missed tackles that we had in our first game, securing the football Friday night in this bad weather that has been predicted and to keep our FOCUS on Lakeview football -- control what we can control.

Rabun County's Jaybo Shaw on his team's loss to Class 4A No. 2 Jefferson last week ...

"I was proud of the relentless effort that we played with, the "never stop fighting" mentality, and the love that this team has for each other after being put in some tough situations the other night. Those are the things nobody will be able to question when it comes to Rabun County football. At the end of the day, Jefferson made the plays to win the game and we didn't. Coach Cathcart, his staff, and football team do a great job. That was the whole reason for scheduling a team like Jefferson... I knew they would expose the things that we needed to get exposed so we can fix or tweak them. Better to happen in Week 3 of the season instead of in the playoffs and it sends you home." 

On the keys to beating Bremen on the road ... 

"Playing our brand of football which will be playing with relentless effort and being as physical as possible. Those two things will always be important for us on every Friday night."

Towns County's Jason Roquemore on his team's 2-1 start ... 

“There is no reason to think we can’t win this game. We’re playing with a lot of confidence and being consistent in our preparation. When you put those together at the same time that is when you start to see outside successes. It is a fun time to be in Hiawassee right now. I’m happy for the kids to have this success and happy for the community to be able to be a part of it. The vibe has been very cool around town.”

West Hall's Krofton Montgomery on getting the team's first win of the year ... 

"The keys to improvement from week 2-3 were sustaining drives and not turning the ball over. We only had one turnover and it was late in the 4th quarter. It kept our field position where we had the upper hand and our offense got in sync and played lights out. Our coaching staff did a great job in practice of preparing our team offensively and the improvement in the small things was evident. Defensively, we had a great game plan and the players played loose and free and executed for four quarters. It gave us a look at what we think we can be when all 11 play with equal intensity and focus."

On the keys to beating Chestatee this week ... 

"Chestatee is a well-coached team that does a great job of exploiting matchups offensively and spreads the field to cover all areas and defensively has some young D lineman that are aggressive and run to the ball well.  They can strike from anywhere on any given play and that’s always a dangerous thing to play against for 48 minutes. We held Johnson to 31 yards in the air so the defensive backs will definitely see more balls in the air this week as Chestatee will throw screens, and fox at any given time. The keys to the game are turnovers, consistent effort, and executing the game plan."

White County's Tim Cokely says depth and focus were key last week ... 

We learned Friday that we can focus and prepare well after having success. We also were able to continue to develop depth which we will need going forward. 

On beating Habersham Central ...

Habersham is loaded with talent and we will have to do a good job of playing technique and limiting big plays. It should be a great night for High School Football. 

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