Commentary: ‘Kickoff’ remains a labor of love
by John Bednarowski
sportseditor@mdjonline.com
August 18, 2013 12:06 AM | 2459 views | 1 1 comments | 29 29 recommendations | email to a friend | print
High school football fans will finally get to see the game they love again Friday, when the 2013 season kicks off.

For the members of the Journal sports staff, the season started back at the beginning of June, when we mapped out the way we were going to approach “Kickoff 2013” — our 92-page annual high school football preview.

For the last 2½ months, we’ve been hard at work putting it all together.

Today, you get to judge whether it’s a winner — and, being more than a little biased, we think it is.

But as we were putting the finishing touches on the content, and waiting for the magazine to be printed, I received a few emails that asked two questions — how do we decide what goes in the magazine, and how do we choose the players that are on the Dynamite Dozen?

I’ll answer the second one first.

Starting as early as the end of the season, we start compiling our list of potential players.

The first one on the list are the returning all-state and all-county performers from the previous season. Then, we look at the statistics of the other returning players to see who might be on the verge of a breakout season in 2013. Add to that the mountain of recruiting information from such services as Rivals, 247 Sports and Scout, and then, finally, we talk to all the coaches in the spring to make sure we aren’t missing anyone.

By the time we were done this summer, our potential Dynamite Dozen list had 32 players on it.

One policy we have followed the last seven years is those returning all-state players earn a spot in our elite group. When you read “Kickoff 2013”, you will see we have seven all-state returnees — North Cobb’s Tyler Queen, Kell’s Taylor Henkle, Marietta’s Tyrell Tomlin, Lassiter’s Sam Wood, Wheeler’s Allen Artis, Allatoona’s Justin Wade and Pope’s Max Kemper. That’s a large number of returning all-state players, and it left us with 25 players still on our list, but with only six remaining spots.

To complete the Dynamite Dozen, we tried to choose those players who had the best combination of on-the-field results from the previous year, along with recruiting projections.

After going through all the information and making selections, all it did was reaffirm something I already knew — we have a lot of really good football players in Cobb County.

It’s really hard to believe that when I first became sports editor of the Journal in November 2006, Cobb had only six players sign with FBS teams. This year, seven members of our Dynamite Dozen have already committed to SEC or ACC schools.

Now, how do we decide what goes in the issue?

We start by looking for trends.

Last year, we knew we had four SEC-caliber quarterbacks, so that was our inspiration.

This year, it comes from the defensive backfield. Six members of the Dynamite Dozen are defensive backs so one of our features focuses on what makes a good DB, and how their roles are changing as more teams adopt the spread offense.

We make sure all the necessary info is in there, including schedules, season outlooks, coaching staffs, rosters, etc.

Then, we try to offer a story unique to each school.

Those stories aren’t necessarily about a starter or a star. We just look for something that we hope you are interested in reading.

Sometimes, we get those ideas from our interviews with players through the year, but usually they come from you — the readers — or the coaches.

And none of it would be possible without your — and their — help.

***

Do you want to meet this year’s Dynamite Dozen? Stop by Williamson Bros. Bar-B-Q on Roswell Road in Marietta this afternoon from 3-6 p.m. The high school stars of today, and college stars of tomorrow, will sign copies of “Kickoff 2013” and take pictures with youth players and fans.

***

This will be the seventh year of Cobb Football Friday, but as always, we are trying to find ways to make it better.

This year, we will have CFF over four days — Thursday through Sunday — to help everyone keep up with everything that is Cobb County football.

Thursday is dedicated to teams in Class A and AAAAA. We have features and previews and for all those teams along with stats, standings, rankings and the Cobb Power Poll.

Friday will be for the Class AAAAAA teams and will include stats, standings, rankings and the Lucky 7.

Saturdays, starting with the first full week of the season on Aug. 30, Section D of the Marietta Daily Journal will be nothing but our high school football coverage. By moving the football coverage to its own section, it will allow us to run more and larger photos, and offer more of them in color.

Sundays we will again have the Cobb Football Friday Weekend Wrap-up. It will continue to have the box scores, the leaders of the week, and the upcoming schedule – but this will also be where we highlight Friday’s players of the game.

***

CobbFootballFriday.com will be bigger and better, too.

Fox 5 sportscaster Ken Rodriguez and Journal digital advertising director Allison Bentley will join me in previewing the games. We will break down the Class A and AAAAA games on our Thursday show, and Class AAAAAA will get the same treatment in a Friday webcast.

On Saturdays, Ken will again create a Cobb-only highlight show with some of the premier games from Friday’s slate.

And while you are there, make sure you sign up for our Superior Plumbing/Cobb Football Friday UPICKEM contest. You can test your prognostication skills against Ken, myself and former Marietta and Georgia quarterback Eric Zeier. The best picker each week will win an iPad.

Comments
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OMacG
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August 18, 2013
John, there's not a doubt in my mind this year's issue will be a winner, just as all of the other ones have been.

A bit of an challenge for me to find where to read it on line, however. I pay for the e-edition of the MDJ...on the front page, I see the Kickoff 2013 section advertised as "Inside Today's Paper." No section was included with the e-edition. Did not see it on the CFF website, either...maybe I missed it or it will be added later.
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