There are just 21 days remaining until the kickoff of the 2022 high school football season. But make no mistake, preparations for the upcoming campaign got underway months ago. And teams throughout northeast Georgia already 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 spring practice went, how the summer is going, and what coaches believe the fall will look like. Our "Two-a-Days" series honors 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 Wildcats had another strong playoff run in 2021 but also lost Georgia-signee Gunnar Stockton at quarterback, as well as several other key players and nearly all of its offensive line. It didn't stop there as Jaybo Shaw stepped down and offensive coordinator Michael Davis was promoted to head coach. They also saw the planned retirement of the entire defensive coaching staff.
However, the offense should still be plenty lethal with most of the key skilled guys back. Finding the right combination up front may be the key to the season and how quickly the defense incorporates and embraces the new changes. We asked Davis about the offensive line and new defensive staff and where they stand as fall approaches.
QUESTION: Coach, offensively, you still have plenty of weapons at the skilled positions. But the all-important offensive line has to replace four starters, including at tight end. How is that rebuild shaping up so far through the summer?
ANSWER: We are having to replace an offensive line group that was very talented, and they were also a very experienced group. This year's offensive line is also very talented, but there is just not a ton of experience. They have been putting in the work all summer, and we are very excited to see that hard work pay off this season. We have hired Caleb Bagley as our offensive line coach. He is extremely knowledgeable and a great coach. Coach Bagley has really been working extremely hard with our guys this summer and getting them prepared for this season. (The line) should continue to grow each game with more experience.
Q: There were wholesale changes on the defensive side, replacing the entire coaching staff. How have the players responded to all the changes to this point?
A: The players have really responded well to the new defensive staff. Coach Stockton and his staff did an unbelievable job here at Rabun. We hired Ricky Ross as Defensive Coordinator. Coach Ross and I shared an office for six years while at Calhoun. I am very excited to have him on staff to run our defense. He is very experienced on the defensive side of the ball, and he is doing a lot of good things. We also were able to hire (former Fannin County head coach and Gainesville defensive coordinator) Jim Pavao as our linebackers coach and special teams coordinator. He was the defensive coordinator at Gainesville when they won their state championship in 2012. We also hired (former Jefferson assistant coach and track coach) Tim Corbin to coach our secondary and be our head track coach. He was very successful on the football field and the track field for them. Lastly, Eric Richeson is coaching our defensive line; he was previously the OL/DL coach at Clinch County and had been the head coach at Dixie High School in Florida. I am very excited for our new defensive staff and excited for what this year holds for our defense.