Warriors put on the pads

  • Jaquez Williams, No. 52, opens up a running lane for Cory Ezzard, No. 22, during an 11-on-11 period Tuesday morning. (Photos/Mark Turner)
    Jaquez Williams, No. 52, opens up a running lane for Cory Ezzard, No. 22, during an 11-on-11 period Tuesday morning. (Photos/Mark Turner)

In a week, the White County Warriors will step on the football field for the first time against a team wearing a different color uniform.

Next Thursday, Aug. 15, the Warriors head to Toccoa for a preseason scrimmage with the Stephens County Indians.

Like all of the other high school teams in the state of Georgia, the Warriors put on the pads for first time on Aug. 1, and have been going through three-hour practice sessions every day this week.

Head coach Tim Cokely is starting to get a feel for what the 2019 squad will look like. After a few months putting in work in the weight room and the field, finally getting the opportunity to put on the pads was a welcome change.

“This is the time we used to break them in with two-a-days, but they've changed how much we can hit, so we have kind of eased into it,” Cokely said. “Our guys are ready and I think we are in pretty good shape. 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.”

Cokely is looking to his group of senior players to provide leadership on and off the field.

“Your team usually follows the leadership of the seniors, and the team takes on the personality of the coach, so those two things are important,” Cokely said. “As we start school, I think this group of seniors, they go to class and do really well. They've done everything in the offseason that we've asked for. Without question, it's going to be a great start to the school year for the players and the coaches. They is good chemistry on the staff and good morale among the players.”

Stephens County should provide the Warriors plenty of competition in the scrimmage. The Indians have 29 seniors on the roster this fall, including most of the skill players on the offensive side of the ball.

It's a bit of a rebuild for the Indians' defense as eight of the Top 10 tacklers from last fall have graduated. Cokely believes playing a quality team in the scrimmage will help the Warriors prepare for one of the toughest schedules in Class AAAA.

“We play good teams every week, and for us this is just a scrimmage,” Cokely said. “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. 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.”

Following the scrimmage, the Warriors have two weeks to get ready for a Week 1 showdown with longtime rival and next-door neighbor Lumpkin County. Cokely said having a week off before the start of the season is a good thing for the Warriors.

“You only get better by playing, but here we've got to protect against  injuries, and we like having two weeks before the first game,” Cokely said. “To me, Lumpkin, North Hall, Habersham, Chestatee and West Hall are our rivals, so we have a big rivalry game opening week. It's nice to have a week off before that game, gives us a week to settle into our game tempo.”