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Sunday October 24th, 2021 11:21AM

Coaches Corner: As Week 3 approaches, area coaches talk team improvement

By Bo Wilson Sports Editor

Week 2 wasn't as glamourous as opening week, but it had its moments. 

Like West Hall finding its offense in a 41-28 win over East Hall. It's the first time the Spartans have opened the season 2-0 since 2012. Clarke Central took No. 1 Buford down to the wire before the Wolves sealed the win with a Jake Pope interception for a touchdown, 16-3. 

In a surprising finishing, North Hall failed to score a point in a 42-0 loss to Stephens County at home, and Lanier Christian continued putting up big numbers in a 30-0 win over Lafayette Christian. 

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

You can track these games on the FGN Twitter page @FridayGameNight  or the live scoreboard at www.accesswdun.com/fridaygamenight. Below are comments from the area’s coaches:


Banks County's Jay Reid on his team's preparation after having Week 2 game canceled ... "I believe our team will refocus quickly and be prepared to play well this Friday, we have a strong senior group this year and we will rely heavily on them to bring positivity and focus. It is tremendously disappointing to ever have a game canceled but you cannot allow a distraction such as that to impact your next opportunity. Our kids are a resilient bunch that bounce back well from adversity." 

On playing East Jackson ... "East Jackson has a well-coached ball team that plays hard and I know that this game will be a physical contest. To get a win, we must do a good job rallying to the football on defense as they have some players that can be explosive if given a crease, eliminate turnovers and penalties that have been rather costly for our offense to this point, and play with passion, physicality and positivity."


Cherokee Bluff's Tommy Jones on his team's Week 2 performance (2-0, beat Chestatee, 60-21) ... "Overall, we were relatively pleased with our preparation, effort and energy last Friday. Our kids flew around and made some plays when we needed to. In saying that, it is still very early in the season and we have a ton of things to clean up. We still had too many penalties, blown assignments, missed blocks and tackles. We understand that the teams that are in the “thick” of it when it matters most will continue to improve every week and begin eliminating these self-inflicted mistakes."

On playing East Forsyth ... "I had the privilege of playing for Coach Allison in college and he is someone that I truly have a ton of respect for. He has already assembled an incredible staff at East Forsyth and they are doing a phenomenal job!  Without a doubt, they are building things the right way. They have a ton of kids out for football and a community that is ultra excited and supportive. They are gaining confidence and getting better every week. They have some very good players that play unbelievably hard. They are solid in every phase and don’t make many mistakes. We understand that it is going to take a great effort for us to be successful on Friday."


Chestatee's Shaun Conley talks Week 2 loss to Cherokee Bluff (0-1, lost to Bluff, 60-21) ... "First and foremost, the Bluff is pretty solid across the board. They lost some guys on defense but they are still pretty stinking good. The bad: I thought our kids came untrained at times. We did some things throughout the game that we typically don’t do. I felt like certain players were trying to do too much at times, and it ended up hurting us some. The good: I thought our kids played hard. They were outmatched at times, but they continued to battle and that makes me proud."  

On playing Union County ... "We are catching them at a strange time. I don’t think we have seen their actual starters altogether yet. They have had some injuries and then had some quarantine issues. But what you can tell is they are well-coached and will get after you.  Again, this week will be a challenge for us. The key for us will be execution. We are going to have to execute across the board on both sides of the ball better in order to beat them." 


Dawson County's Sid Maxwell on his team's Week 2 performance (0-2, lost to Flowery Branch, 31-7) ...  "We improved on defense. The players are understanding the system and for the most part, are in the right place.  When we didn't make plays, it was simply they beat us with better athletes, but our guys were striving to execute the proper technique. The offense has a lot of new players and, hopefully, in time we will develop some consistency."

On playing South Forsyth ... "It's going to be a big challenge, but we are looking forward to it. We need to focus on all three phases of the game. Our goal is to keep striving to improve and prepare for region play."


East Forsyth's Brian Allison on his team's continued improvement (0-2, lost to Rabun Gap, 45-7) ... "Our kids played hard again this past week.  We need to make fewer mental errors against a really good team. We're just looking to get better every week we play."


East Hall's Matt Turner on his team's loss to West Hall (0-1, lost to West Hall, 48-21) ... "We learned that we have a lot of things we need to clean up and fix. We need to continue to improve on our fundamentals and clean up our kicking game and all the penalties."
 
On playing Franklin County ... "Franklin County, they are big, physical and are very well-coached. We need to take care of the football, sustain drives and be more physical up front to be successful against them."


East Jackson's Cameron Pettus on the loss to Jackson County (0-2, lost to Jackson County, 26-0) ... "Tough break when a flag was called on a long touchdown run (I am grinning really big here and trying not to be negative) that would have made it 7-7 at the half. In the second half, we did not do a good job with field position and ball security. I love how we fought, it reminded me of the movie 300, we had our small core fighting a much larger force. We have a great group of seniors, looking forward to improving and moving forward."

On playing Banks County ... The keys are gonna be a great defense, ball security and passing enough to keep them honest. They are much improved and did some really great things against Commerce. It should be another competitive fun game for us. Keep on building! Go Eagles."


 

Jackson County's Rich McWhorter on his team's Week 2 performance (1-0, beat East Jackson, 26-0) ... "First, I could not be more impressed with the job Coach [Cameron] Pettus and his staff have done at East Jackson. They hit us in the mouth, and we were able to see how our players would respond with the first sign of adversity. I did not feel like we played with the urgency and intensity needed in the first half on offense, but after halftime, we were able to refocus and get in a much better rhythm. Our defense answered the call many times by creating three turnovers, and creating great starting field position for the offense. We have a long way to go, and many things to clean up, but it was good to get a win to build off of the positives and learn from the negatives." 
 
On playing Stephens County ... "Coach [Wes] Tankersly and his staff have clearly gotten their players to buy-in, and it has shown through the early part of this season. They are fast and physical on defense and have a great QB with a multitude of weapons to get the ball to on the perimeter. In order for us to have success against Stephens County, we have to do all of the little things well and minimize mistakes in all three phases." 


Jefferson's Gene Cathcart on his team's Week 2 win (2-0, beat Central Gwinnett, 42-7) ... "We certainly felt like we cleaned up some things execution-wise and were able to take care of our business early against an improved central Gwinnett football team. Combined, I think Malaki [Starks], Sammy [Brown] and Kadin Bailey had like four carries for over 200 yards and four touchdowns, averaged over 50 yards a carry, with none of them getting tackled. So that was a good night and we were able to rest them and still be up 35-0 early in the second quarter. Defensively, we played very well with Austin Redmon and Spencer Neese having big nights, and Spencer tallying a pick-six. We will have to see, later, how much improvement we were able to build as our goals and hopeful trajectory are gauged along the journey and long haul."

On playing Southside, SC ... "Southside had made huge strides under Coach Jeremy West, who left this off-season to replace Rayvan Teague as the athletic director at Westside High School in Anderson, SC. Their new Coach, Roy Ravenell, is a very well-respected football coach, and Furman graduate, who faced an extremely tough opening game and responded last week to play a very fine Woodmont team down to the last possession. Traditionally, and we saw this first hand when we played them a few years ago, the school has fine athletes and excels in many sports, having been in the football playoffs as well -- pretty regularly of late. We know coach and his staff are looking for a signature win, and their athleticism is evident on film. It will be nice to be back at home celebrating Youth Night and our OUTSTANDING Jefferson Recreation football programs, players, coaches and cheerleaders." 


North Forsyth's Robert Craft on his team's Week 2 performance (1-1, lost to Harrison, 19-6) ... "I thought our guys actually came out of the 80-minute lightning delay in a great way. We kicked off, immediately forced a three and out on defense, then drove the ball down inside the five. Unfortunately, our offense could not finish the drive, and our field goal team was unable to execute the kick and it was blocked. Defensively, we played up to our standard last week vs Harrison. However, our offense showed some inconsistency and we played poorly in special teams which was a big factor in our loss."
 
On playing Dalton ... "Dalton has shown to put up a lot of points in its first two games. Our defense will need to be ready to play again. Dalton has shown a lot of explosiveness from their backfield and at the wide receiver position. We will need to tackle well and be able to contain them. Offensively and in the kicking game, we need to bounce back – play with great consistency, win the line of scrimmage on offense and be sound on each of our special teams. We do those things, we will put ourselves in a place to be successful on Friday night."


North Hall's David Bishop on his team's Week 2 loss (1-1, lost to Stephens County, 42-0) ... "To be honest, we played uninspired football as a team. I blame some of that on the fact that I had to be away for two weeks’ worth of practice."
 
On playing Hart County ... "Hart County is extremely talented, especially on the offensive side of the ball, and can score from anywhere on the field. We must force them to punt, control the football and win the special teams battle. We did none of these last year."


Riverside Military's Nick Garrett on his team's progress after having the last two games canceled ... "We have had the chance to slow things down and teach all of our new cadets and also build team comradery."
 
On playing Druid Hills ... "They are a very athletic team that has a new head coach, and they have played very fast over the past few weeks. Our keys to a win will be to establish our run game on offense, be gap sound and secure tackles on defensive and be efficient and don't give up explosive plays on special teams." 


Union County's Michael Perry on playing Chestatee ... "Coach [Shaun] Conley is a great coach and will have his team prepared and ready to go. Offensively, we have to execute and hold on to the football. Defensively, we have to get pressure on their quarterback [Luke Bornhorst] and create turnovers. We are looking forward to Friday night."


White County's Tim Cokely on his team's loss to Hart County (0-2, lost to Hart County, 49-13) ... "We played better all around, but we had three turnovers that changed the game. We are getting better and really look forward to our game with Picken Friday night."

On playing Pickens ... "They are undefeated and have the biggest team we face. To win we have to continue to improve in special teams, tackle well and take care of the ball."

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 3 SCHEDULE

Athens Academy at Commerce (CANCELED)
Banks County at East Jackson 
East Forsyth at Cherokee Bluff 
East Hall at Franklin County  
Dalton at North Forsyth 
Dawson County at South Forsyth
Flowery Branch at Gainesville (CANCELED)
Jackson County at Stephens County 
North Hall at Hart County  -- FM 94.5 The Lake (Click to listen live)
Rabun Gap at Lakeview 
Rabun County at ECLA (CANCELED)
Riverside at Druid Hills 
Southside, SC at Jefferson  -- WDUN FM 102.9 (Click to listen live)
Union County at Chestatee -- WDUN AM 550 (Click to listen live)
White County at Pickens 

*All games kickoff at 7:30 p.m. unless noted

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