Teams will complete the Georgia High School Association mandatory 5-day transition period – where players get acclimated to the heat in only helmets and shorts – this week and players will be suiting up in pads beginning Thursday to prepare for the 2013 season.
A few of the teams used the offseason to learn a little about themselves after graduating either a key performer or several performers from their 2012 squad.
“I like where we are without the pads,” said new Harrison coach Matt Dickmann, the team’s third coach in as many years. “The kids have done well all summer and right now, we’re mentally where we want to be, but you don’t know that until you put the pads on. It makes a big difference when you put the pads on. It’s a whole new game.”
Allatoona has been consistently solid the last two seasons, having made the state quarterfinals both times.
But with one starter returning on defense and two returning on offense, Allatoona now has questions and hope that a few get answered once they suit up.
“We got 10 new starters on defense so it’s going to be a chore for our defensive staff,” said Allatoona coach Gary Varner. “We’re trying to get everything worked out, but we have a lot of kids working really hard and it’s been a great offseason. The kids are excited about the opportunity that’s ahead of them.”
They have linebacker Justin Wade back to anchor the defense. Running back Josh Bettistea and offensive linemen Amir Moore are returning to lead the offense, but the remaining positions on the depth chart, including quarterback and offensive line, will be filled by players who are still inexperienced on varsity.
Marietta is about to discover what kind of team it is without a couple of start players in quarterback Anthony Jennings and receiver Tyree Harris. After making the second round of the Class AAAAAA state playoffs last season, junior Brenton Martin is being groomed to lead the huddle, but the Blue Devils should be okay at running back, with KirVonte Benson, and linebacker, where Class AAAAAA first-team standout Tyrell Tomlin return. Marietta is also expecting to have new faces at receiver, the defensive line and the secondary.
“This group of kids are very high in character and the work ethic is very good,” Marietta coach Scott Burton said. “I tell them there are two things they can control, and that’s effort and attitude. Their effort has been outstanding and their attitude is superb.”
South Cobb lost its skilled players on offense from last year and first-year coach Michael Youngblood said the same spread offense used last year is ahead of schedule with newer players.
It’s the new 3-3-5 defense, led by lineman Justin Jones the Eagles are still working to fine-tune and will continue to working on the scheme with full pads.
“Defensively, we’re in a total overhaul,” Youngblood said. “We still have a lot to focus on defensively and we want to get to the point where we can slow down our opponents.”