It’s officially Week 1 for each high school football team in the Calhoun and Gordon County area. Calhoun will travel to Dalton. Gordon Central will host Woodland, and Sonoraville will host Model. Each of those games are going to be played on Friday at 7:30 p.m.
In Calhoun’s game on the road at Dalton, the biggest challenge for the Jackets is not having any scrimmage tape to go off of in the mind of Calhoun coach Clay Stephenson.
“It’s kind of unknown because we don’t have any scrimmage tape or anything,” Stephenson said. “In today’s game, you normally have plenty of film to watch, but with this being the first game with no scrimmages to get to go to or get to swap films with, it’s going to be a bit of an unknown. We’re trying to plan for stuff, but we don’t really know for sure what they’re going to come out in on offense, defense and special teams. It’ll take us a quarter or a quarter and a half to get a grasp on what they’re doing. Thankfully, they’re in the same boat.”
Calhoun will be breaking in a new quarterback this year, and although a couple of quarterbacks may get into the game, Christian Lewis will get the start. Even though Stephenson expressed his confidence in Lewis and the ability to run the offense as usual, he admitted that it is always nice to have a veteran star running back in Jerrian Hames to rely on during the game.
“Jerrian (Hames) is obviously a special player, so if the game plan is not revolving around him, we didn’t do a good job as coaches,” Stephenson said. “We’ll definitely try to get him the ball as much as we can.”
In a game of unknowns that starts a season of unknowns in a new classification, Stephenson preaches focusing on what the Jackets can control.
“It’s mainly going to be a game where you focus on yourself,” Stephenson said. “If you go out and execute your game plan, hold on to the football and create some turnovers, you’ll probably have a good chance regardless of what you don’t know about the opponent.”
Travelling across the area to Gordon Central, the Warriors will start their new season against Woodland at Ratner Stadium. The highly touted Tre Williams will be making his first regular season start at quarterback for Gordon Central, and Gordon Central coach T.J. Hamilton is excited to see him get to play.
“I’m expecting to see a young man that’s ready to go,” Hamilton said. “He’s been waiting for this moment for a very long time. Watching him in the (intrasquad) scrimmage last week, he’s where he needs to be at. Having him and Jordan (Boone) together, it’s going to be dynamic for us on the offensive side. He’s going to play a little bit on the defensive side too. Having him under center makes our offense a little bit better. I’m looking forward to seeing how everything works out for him on Friday night because I do believe he’s going to be something special to see.”
The Warriors will have their work cut out for them as Woodland quarterback Johnathan Thomas returns as well as running back Asa James. Slowing the duo down is key for the Warriors to have success on Friday night according to Hamilton.
“Their quarterback (Johnathan Thomas) is returning,” Hamilton said. “They run a straight-T, so he’s been under center for a while for them. He’s a left-handed kid who’s a very good runner. Their running back Asa (James) is really talented. He’s a shorter kid, but he runs it really well. He’s not as fast as some of the other kids we’re probably going to face this year, but the way he runs in the offense — he can be explosive. If we can slow down their quarterback and Asa (James), I think we got a good chance.”
However, Hamilton sees the game ultimately coming down to the battle in the trenches.
“I believe it’s going to be between the trenches — our offensive line versus their defensive line and vice versa. They got some big ol’ boys, and we got some big ol’ boys. I think our kids are going to be up to the challenge, and Coach Camp is going to have their kids ready to go.”
Across the county, Sonoraville gets ready for their home opener against Model. Model has been a thorn in the side of Sonoraville in the past, and Sonoraville coach Denver Pate is excited to see his team play but is also wary of his opponent.
“We’re just glad we’re getting the opportunity to play a game,” Pate said. “We’ve taken every precaution we could up to this point to give us a chance to play. I know these kids are geared up ready to go. Model has always been a struggle for us in the past. It’s always been a tight game whenever we’ve played them. I expect Coach Honeycutt to have his guys ready to play, and we’ll do likewise.”
While Pate wishes he had more film on model, some things from last season have carried over to this fall.
“They’re bringing back four or five offensive linemen I believe,” Pate said. “I look for that to be the strength of their offense. I look for those guys to be a run-oriented team, so we got to make sure that we play sound in that phase of the game.”