Monday May 29th, 2023 8:24PM

Coaches Corner: Region play starts for some; area coaches talk Week 5

By Bo Wilson Sports Editor

Week 4 provided some fantastic finishes.

Gainesville knocked off Flowery Branch, Chestatee hammered West Hall for its second straight win, Habersham Central took advantage of White County's mistakes to grab the 21-12 win, and both No. 1 Buford and No. 2 Rabun County posted big wins.

The games on the Week 5 slate should provide fans around the area with plenty of good games to watch.

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 Below are comments from the area’s coaches:

Cherokee Bluff's Tommy Jones on the team's off week (3-0) ... "We always try to use our open week to get back to the basics -- lots of fundamentals. Football is still a game of basic blocking, tackling, alignment, team timing, etc. We are improving every week in these areas but still have a long ways to go. We were definitely pleased with the effort, attitude, and work ethic of our guys in practice last week."
On playing Lakeside-DeKalb ... "Lakeside is an improved football team. It is obvious that they are becoming more and more confident each week. It is going to take a great week of preparation. We need to play fast, physical, disciplined football in all phases and eliminate some nagging mistakes that continue to be an issue."

Chestatee's Shaun Conley on his team's performance against West Hall (2-1, beat West Hall, 42-7) ... "It all goes down to our kids believing. They played hard and were able to execute. Plus our defense played really, really well, and we made plays when we needed to." 

On playing North Hall ... "It's going to be execution. We're really not going to change anything; we're just going to do what we do. We feel like if we can execute, hopefully, we can move the ball a little bit on them."

East Forsyth's Brian Allison on his team's overall improvement this season (0-4, lost to Whitefield Academy, 42-0)... "I feel like we are getting a little better every week. We have played some good teams the past few weeks, and have shown signs of good football at times, but just not consistent enough right now."

On playing Riverside ...  "Riverside has some very talented players, and they are coached very well.  I can see the improvement in their team every week. We need to play more consistently in all three phases of the game. We must tackle better and protect the ball."

East Hall's Matt Turner on last week's battle with Johnson (1-3, beat Johnson, 49-35) ... "Last week we learned that have to be better with our fundamentals, and we have to take care of the football."
On the keys to beating East Jackson ... "East Jackson is a very good football team. They are well-coached, very big upfront, and they run the football very well. We have to limit our mistakes, be very efficient on offense, and get them off the field on 3rd down."

Flowery Branch's Ben Hall on the loss to Gainesville (2-1, lost to Gainesville, 42-35) ... "The team played hard in the Gainesville game, we just came up on the short end. It was a competitive 4 quarter game, with a great environment."

On playing Hiram this week ... "We need to focus on us this week and continue to improve in all phases of the game. Hiram is explosive. We can't give up the big play and protect the football when we have it."

Gainesville's Heath Webb on last week's performance (2-1, beat Flowery Branch, 42-35) ... "We learned that our team is up to any challenge and that they will continue answering the bell even after our opponent throws everything they have at us." 

On opening Region 6-7A play against Forsyth Central ... “They are new coach was on staff so he’s very familiar with the personnel they had. They are still run-oriented. they are big and physical with a good line that likes to come right at you.”

Jackson County's Alex Crawford (OC) on the team's improvement through three games (2-1, beat Franklin County, 20-19) ... "I believe more than anything that this showed the maturity and grit of this year's team. Trailing by two scores and having to battle back to win is a testament to the confidence and belief that these players have, and I could not be more proud of the way they answered the bell." 
On opening Region 8-5A play against Walnut Grove ... "Walnut Grove in a lot of ways is similar to ourselves. Their defense can set the tone and turn a game around in an instant. Their strength is upfront just like ours. We will need to win the battle up front in order to be successful on Friday, as well as protect the football and not get behind the chains in order to give ourselves the best chance to be on the right side of the scoreboard this Friday."

Johnson's William Harrell on his team's performance against East Hall (0-3, lost to East Hall, 49-35) ... "Our guys really made a step in the right direction this past Friday. We still have a lot of mistakes that we have to iron out, but we are making progress."

On opening Region 8-5A play against Eastside ... "Eastside is a very athletic group; we have our work cut out for us. They are talented and had a lot of success the last two years. They will contend for the region title, along with Clarke Central, Greenbrier and Loganville. We will need to play mistake-free football to give ourselves a chance."

North Forsyth's Robert Craft on his team's Week 4 performance (3-1, beat Etowah, 14-0) ... "I was thrilled with how our entire team was able to start the game very fast in all three phases – offense, defense, special teams. Our defense played lights out recording a shutout. Shutouts are extremely hard to achieve, we were able to hold them to two first downs, one pass completion and seven total passing yards and 67 total yards. I thought our defense dominated for four quarters."
On opening Region 6-7A play against Denmark (Thursday, Sept. 16) ... "They finished second in the region last year, so they are coming off a very successful season. Our team is really excited to start region play. Their defense is playing very well, only giving up seven points a game. We will have to play very well upfront – running the ball well is something we always believe in, but Denmark will present a big challenge to being able to run the ball well. Continued solid play in special teams will be another factor. Denmark has a very good kicking game."

North Hall's David Bishop on the team's off week ... "We used the off week to just go back through the few games we've played, see where we've made mistakes, and focus on cleaning up those mistakes rather than focusing on the next team we play."

On playing Chestatee ... "One of the things that we do see is if they play physical and run to the football, and they don't miss near as many tackles as they have in the past. So, we're going to have to be happy at four yards a clip and just continue to move the sticks series after series with them."

Riverside coach Nick Garrett on his team's improvement (1-1, lost to Georgia Military, 23-6) ... "Our boys have had to overcome many different obstacles from day one of school up until now. The great thing about adversity is it creates opportunity for your younger inexperienced group to get better and gives them chances to play."
On playing East Forsyth ... "East Forsyth is a new school and has gotten better week in and week out. In order for us to compete, we will need to secure the ball, make tackles and no mental errors on special teams."

Towns County's Jason Roquemore on his team's improvement (2-1, beat Baconton Charter, 48-20) ... "I think our execution has improved. Our kids are grading better each week."

On playing Lakeview Academy ... "They play hard and are well-coached. Taking care of the football and being great in the kicking game will be huge factors this week."

Union County's Michael Perry on the team's off week ... "We got some guys back from quarantine and injuries and worked on trying to simplify some things."

On playing Pickens ... "Pickens is a good football team. They have a really good middle linebacker that causes problems and a big D-line. We are going to have to establish the running game early and protect our quarterback as well. Offensively, they have a good quarterback that we must contain. The team that protects the football will win this game."

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