Are you ready for some Thursday Night Football? The White County Warriors are, and they'll get a chance to get on the field tonight in Toccoa, taking on Stephens County in a pre-season scrimmage.
The game will give Warrior fans a sneak peak at the 2019 squad, before the season opener rolls around on Aug. 30 against the Lumpkin County Indians.
The Warriors have been grinding away for the past two months, working both in the weight room and on the field. This week's preparations have been hampered by a heat wave that has taken up residency in almost every corner of the state. Most of the team's around the state have spent a lot of time indoors this week as temperature's have been hovering around 90 degrees or higher.
“Our guys are ready and I think we are in pretty good shape,” WCHS head coach Tim Cokely said. “We are further along than last year as far as wearing pads. It's certainly good to see them in pads, that means we are getting ready to play.”
With the temperature expected to be hot again today, Cokely and the staff plans to play a lot of players in the scrimmage.
“We want to play a lot of guys, we want to work a lot of rotations, and its hard to do that in practice because you can't practice forever,” Cokely said. “We've got to see what works with what. We are certainly ready, we've done what we are supposed to do as far as conditioning.”
The Indians went 5-5 last year and earned a spot in the state playoffs after missing the playoffs in 2017, only the second time in 22 years the Indians haven't advanced to the post-season.
Wesley Tankersly is entering his second season as Stephens County's head coach, and has several key players back with 29 seniors, and especially on the offensive side. Most of the playmakers return, including running back Hudson Spurlock, receiver Gamarion Carter, and quarterback Kenny Colwell, who passed for more than 1,000 yards last season. Last spring, Colwell, a talented athlete, was a teammate of White County's Cooper Turner on the Blue Collar Basketball travel team.
On the defensive side, the Indians are a work in progress as eight of the Top 10 tacklers from last year graduated.
The Warriors will counter with an offensive attack led by junior quarterback J. Ben Haynes and a bevy of experienced skill players in Turner, Jesse Thomas, Will Sampson, Reece Dockery, Zion McMullen and Cory Ezzard.
Defensively, the Warriors are rebuilding after losing players such as Jay Lepkoske, DeeJay Fleming, Cody VerSluis, Cameron Quinn, and Kurtis Havlen. The linebacker crew should be the strength of the defense with Greg Wimer, Jared Julian and Ezzard expected to play big roles.