When North Forsyth’s Robert Craft was a head football coach in Florida, the state’s high school athletic association allowed teams to schedule spring football games against other opponents. Craft always did, finding either a nearby rival or reputable program to play his North Florida Christian teams. He found it useful motivation for those monotonous offseason days in the weight room.
“You’ve got something to kind of remind them of what’s coming,” Craft said.
Well, now it’s here. North is one of three county teams taking advantage of the Georgia High School Association allowing high school football teams to have spring games against other opponents. The GHSA approved the measure in April 2016.
Roswell at North Forsyth, Thurs., 7:30 p.m.
Centennial at Lambert, Fri., 7 p.m.
Forsyth Central at Alpharetta, Fri., 7 p.m.
The Raiders will host resurgent powerhouse Roswell on Thursday at 7:30 p.m., while Lambert will host Centennial on Friday and Forsyth Central will play at Alpharetta.
The spring game was optional for high school teams. Those who chose to have one were still limited to 10 days of spring practice and can have just one preseason scrimmage in the fall. Teams could also bypass spring practice and have two preseason scrimmages against other teams instead.
Craft jumped at the chance to have a spring game, particularly against a team the caliber of Roswell. The Hornets have reached the state championship in the state’s highest classification each of the past two seasons, losing to Colquitt County in 2015 and Grayson in 2016.
“I think for the kids it’s just gotten them excited, really all offseason, for us to talk about an opponent and a home game and for us a really big opponent,” Craft said. “For us, to play a team that’s played 30 games in the last two years is a big deal. Roswell is where we want to be. That’s one reason why we want to schedule them. I think it’ll be a great opportunity for us just to compete.”
The teams will play the first three quarters like a conventional game, the first half with varsity players and the third quarter with the junior varsity. Varsity players will return in the fourth quarter for controlled situations. Special teams won’t be live. There won’t be a halftime.
Even though there’s a state power lining up on the other side, Craft said the focus during his second spring practice with the Raiders was less on the Hornets and more on his team coming off a 4-6 season.
“You only have nine practices to get ready for it, so that’s a little different,” Craft said. “But we’ve really tried to practice on the fundamentals and really just focus on this game as a 10th practice, so it can be just the progression of getting to where you want to be in August.”