Forsyth Central at Cherokee
Lambert at Lanier
North Forsyth at Riverwood
Pinecrest Academy at St. Francis
South Forsyth at Winder-Barrow
West Forsyth at Central Gwinnett
Football season is finally here.
Every Forsyth County football team except for West Forsyth, which will play next week, will play its scrimmage on the road tonight at 7:30 p.m.
Central will get to showcase its newly installed spread option attack against a Cherokee team that finished the 2012 season 1-9. The Bulldogs’ coach, Shane Williamson, is anxious to see how his players respond. Central will use its varsity members for the first half before transitioning to younger athletes.
"All the fans want to see the scoreboard and they want to keep score, but the bottom line of what we want to do is getting our kids playing against somebody else, and we want to see our kids on film, something we can evaluate them," Williamson said. "…You’re looking for the little things. Stance, get-offs, routes, quarterbacks making the reads. We’ve got all kinds of things we’ve got to be evaluating our guys on. It gets monotonous when you’re going against [yourself] three, four weeks in a row and they begin to learn your calls and know what you’re doing."
North head coach Jason Galt will have similar expectations when his team will run the Double Wing for the first time. The Raiders will lean on bruising junior running back Jamal Davenport when they take on Riverwood (6-4). Galt’s former defensive coordinator at Dutchtown High School is the new coach at Riverwood and should make the game a bit more interesting.
"A lot of coaches talk about that it’s a scrimmage and it doesn’t mean anything," Galt said. "To me, it’s a game. We’re trying to get in game-shape. It’s one thing to do it in drills and all that, but until those guys play a game, they’re not really in game-shape. We’re not going to have one quarter for JV. We’re going to play four quarters of varsity football."
"Now, we’ll sub guys in. We’re trying to find guys. Without a doubt, that’s a part of it. But we’re approaching it like it’s a game. We’re trying to get physically and mentally ready to play that opener."
While South isn’t installing a new offense, head coach Jeff Arnette will pay close attention to the quarterback position as junior Matt White and senior Nick Shepherd battle for the starting position against Winder-Barrow (1-9). South will treat the scrimmage like it’s a regular season game.
"It’s going to be a live game," Arnette said. "We’re going to play as many as we can so we can get to evaluate them on film. [We want to] know where we’re at, so it’s going to be an evaluation game for us."
No longer will Brock Maxwell run the offense, as Lambert will turn to senior Hayden McCloud for its signal caller as Lambert will face Lanier (5-5). The Longhorns’ head coach, Sid Maxwell, said the coaching staff will look at situational moments to see how players respond. Lambert knocked off Lanier last season 24-7 and would like a similar result.
"Our main focus is to get an opportunity to evaluate our player and see where we are at this point," Maxwell said. "We’ll put guys in situations and see how they respond.
"The challenge for [McCloud] is to get out with the offense and pick up first downs."
Pinecrest will have to replace quarterback Jimmy Strom and running back John Paul-Metz, but head coach Todd Winter is confident he’ll find players who can pick up where the two left off. The Paladins were originally scheduled to host St. Francis (4-6), but will travel after rainy conditions on Pinecrest’s field made it unsafe for play.
"I’m hoping that we execute offensively based off what we know about them," Winter said. "…I want to see good ball security from the point of exchange to the pitch or when we throw the football.
"Defensively, I want to see us get off blocks and I want to see 11 guys get to the football and us wrapping up. …I really want to see who’s going to get after it."
West will have to wait another week before it gets to square off against Central Gwinnett (6-4). Head coach Frank Hepler thought it was best for his team to have another week of practice before playing a scrimmage.
Although the Wolverines must replace the production from last season, Hepler is confident he’ll learn quite a bit from his team next Friday night.
"We’ll find out where we’re at," Hepler said. "Which players do well and which positions do what. We’ve gone against each other for a couple of weeks now and are ready to play someone else.
"A few years ago we decided to wait a week before playing [the scrimmage], but I didn’t like how the flow of things went. I like giving us extra practice time. We’re going to play all of our guys. The first half will be like an NFL game."
Sports editor Brian Paglia contributed to this report.