Sunday September 25th, 2022 4:40AM

Two-a-Days: Leadership, RB big priorities as Bears enter new era

By Jeff Hart Sports Reporter

There are just 31 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)...


In just four seasons, the Bears have established themselves as one of the power programs in the area. But they come into the 2022 campaign, having graduated the bulk of their foundational players that opened the program.

They face several key issues at several spots on both sides of the ball. Coach Tommy Jones discussed finding the necessary leadership to help move the program forward as well as trying to find a replacement for running back Jayquan Smith.

QUESTION: Coach, several key cornerstone players for the program graduated, meaning finding some key leadership for the next crop of players will be important. How have the current upperclassmen handled this aspect as y’all get closer to the opening week?

A: We have been extremely fortunate to have had a number of outstanding players to help build our program here on the Bluff. But more important than anything they did on the field is the fact that they bought in (to what we were doing) from the very beginning and established a strong, healthy culture. Obviously, it’s impossible to replace these leaders or re-create what they did. Every team takes its own journey. However, the hope is that through the effort, attitude, and intangibles they modeled will impact our football program for years to come. And we are tremendously excited and encouraged about how our returning players are handling their business right now. They have been working really hard and maintained a solid focus through our off-season and summer phases. One of the most gratifying parts of coaching is to be a part of the process of these young men stepping up, maturing, and becoming leaders.

Q: Y’all graduated one of the best running backs in the state in Jayquan Smith,  who had 1,600-plus yards last year. Your offense is built around the run, so who are some guys that have shown promise in the backfield so far into the summer?

A: Jayquan was unquestionably a special talent and huge foundational piece to our football program at Cherokee Bluff. Not sure you ever just “plug and play” and replace someone like him. In saying that, we feel really good about a number of our guys stepping in and sharing the load in our run game. Connor Griffin, Conner Hulsey, Jaylen Carroll, Xavier Griffin, and Perry Haynes have all been impressive through spring and summer workouts. And our offensive line has been encouraging as well. Max Eubanks is an exceptional athlete that can make a big difference offensively in a lot of different areas. The challenge to putting an offense together every year is best utilizing the pieces that are on the roster. We have a handful of quality receivers with starting experience (Jhace Justice, Max Eubanks) and a quarterback that we are very excited about in Asher Wilson. So it will be interesting to see how things develop and progress offensively for us this season.

(Click PLAY.above to see the video:)

  • Associated Categories: Sports, High School Sports, Friday Game Night
  • Associated Tags: High school football, Cherokee Bluff football, Two a days
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