The record Friday for the first night of the Georgia High school football season says everybody starts out 0-0. And they do.
But for teams like Sonoraville, which ended last year with a three-game winning streak and returns at least 15 starters from that group, they are hoping to start the season with a little more wind under their wings than some of their colleagues.
They are a young team with a roster of over 50 freshmen and sophomores, but a number of those players have a lot of experience because the coaches turned to some of those first-year players and other newbies last year when they needed them.
The year 2020 began with a great deal of promise.
The Phoenix won their first two games before Covid infiltrated their team just as they were about to start 3-A Region 7 action.
Losing 19 players one week and 16 for another game, they valiantly played on, but lost five straight league contests to end their postseason hopes.
However, once they got all their players back and one assistant coach who was also sidelined, they finished as a team nobody wanted to play with three straight wins.
During that middle stretch, they were using a lot of different lineman and many of them were new varsity players who now have varsity experience. which bodes well going into this year.
On offense, head coach Denver Pate was looking to replace his quarterback, two-year starter Brady Lackey, their H Back, and one of the tackle spots.
The quarterback position is covered with his son, sophomore Jaxon Pate, taking over at that position.
He definitely looked the part Friday night in the scrimmage against Gordon Central.
Whether rolling left or rolling to his right, behind his veteran offensive line, Pate was on the money all night long to a host of different receivers.
And when he did just drop back, he was doing things like putting together a one play, 32-yard touchdown drive on a high pass down the middle to senior receiver Nicholas Beddington.
Wide receiver Brant Bryant, who can turn short catches into long gains with his speed and elusiveness, looks like the leader of a group of receivers who can run and have sure hands.
Unofficially, Brown had five catches for just under 110 yards in the first half against Gordon Central last Friday Night and was one of quite a few players the Phoenix just want to get out into space and let run.
As much as the potential to be a dangerous passing team presents itself, the Phoenix also have a chance to be a tremendous running team with four returning starters in the offensive line.
They will lead the way for running backs like junior Zach Lyles and freshman Wyatt Springfield, who had a 70-yard touchdown run last week.
Returning senior All-State player Jaxx Knight spearheads an offensive line that looks effective so far both run blocking and pass blocking.
And now those five will have a tight end somewhere around them with senior Jebb Knight, who caught two touchdown passes in the scrimmage Friday, and junior Ridge Redd both in line to play.
Defensively, it’s the same way as the Phoenix are looking to replace a couple spots in the secondary, one of their outside linebackers, and one man in the trenches.
They also have a lot of two-way players with guys who are on the interior line on offense also playing defense and receivers playing defensive back.
Model was a playoff team in 2020, going 7-5 overall and 4-2 for third place in AA Region 7. The teams played a barnburner last year in both schools’ season opener with Sonoraville taking home a 20-14 overtime win.
The Blue Devils went to the second round of the AA playoffs, defeating Washington 28-14 in Atlanta in the first round but then losing to Rabun County 35-0 in the second.