High school football season is drawing closer each day. Even though the regular season is still a couple of weeks away for most Georgia teams, scrimmages will be scattered across the area this weekend.
Lumpkin County football coach Tommy Jones is preparing for his seventh year at the helm of the Indians and looking to improve on a 6-4 record in 2011.
Flowery Branch coach Chris Griffin laughed when asked recently how much more he knew about his football team since the full pads were put on.
In his first two stops, Bill Ballard made winners out of Tucker and Peachtree Ridge, notching 12 wins in four of his first seven seasons as a head coach.
New West Hall coach Tony Lotti has had a full plate in his first few months with the Spartans program.
New Riverside Military Academy football coach Gary Downs is a high-energy coach who has long-term visions that include making the Eagles the best military academy program in the nation.
For the better part of two months, football coaches around the area have been able to execute similar structures to their offseason programs.
Towns County football coach Kyle Langford considers the mountains his home, even though he never lived in the northern half of the state before taking the job in Hiawassee in 2007.
Benji Harrison is learning the ropes of what it takes to be a head coach. Harrison, the first-year football coach at Jackson County High, understands that being the man in charge is just as much organizational leadership as it is designing a winning gameday strategy.
Jefferson High coach T. McFerrin isn't making any promises past this season. Entering his 40th season as a high school coach, and fourth since coming out of retirement in 2009 with the Dragons, he's operating on a year-by-year basis at this point in his career that spans six decades.
New Johnson High football coach Jason Roquemore loves what he does.
In 2011, East Hall football coach Bryan Gray had his most successful season at the school.
For six years, Stan Luttrell has led the Chestatee football team. In his first year as coach of the team, he took the War Eagles to the state playoffs, and, while he hasn't returned since, he's optimistic about the direction in which the program is headed.
In 2011, Jess Simpson coached one of the more talented Buford football teams in recent memory to a 14-0 start and an appearance in its fifth straight state championship game.
Johnson High has ended its brief search for a new football coach.
BUFORD - For Evyn Cooper, it was all about being the next man up.
HAMILTON – Mikey Gonzalez has carved out his own legacy for Gainesville. His year as the Red Elephants' signal-caller will be remembered for winning huge games with clutch performances.
JEFFERSON - The No. 1-seed Jefferson Dragons put together another dominant performance in the Class AAA state playoffs Friday night at Memorial Stadium, ousting the No. 3-seeded Dodge County Indians, 27-7.
COMMERCE - Once Will Thomas found running room, there was no stopping him.
Gainesville at Harris County
Michael Byrd's joy can be found in watching his two sons playing football for Gainesville High on Fridays in the fall. Part of the excitement is watching his sons, Michael and Chris, following in his footsteps as standouts for the Red Elephants. The other part is just the paternal joy of watching the next generation do what they love.
Children sat around the stage. West Hall football players stood on stage, and the auditorium was full as Tony Lotti took the stage.
Tapped out of energy from a three-hour slugfest and numb from freezing temperatures most of the night, Gainesville's players were still able to celebrate following Friday's playoff opener against Creekview.
Elbert County bested Lumpkin County 28-18 in the first round of the Class AAA playoffs on Friday night in Dahlonega.
BUFORD - Sixteen different players carried the ball as top-ranked Buford racked up 423 rushing yards on 36 carries to defeat Southeast Whitfield 63-0 in the opening round of the Class AAAA playoffs on Friday at Tom Riden Stadium.
HARTWELL - Bryan Gray looked over his team of quiet, disappointed East Hall Vikings and gave them a simple message following their 42-14 loss at Hart County.
The running of Kwon Williams and Tyquan Statham was a perfect analogy for the West Hall football team's mentality on Friday night. Quite simply, the Spartans refused to go down without a fight.
JEFFERSON - With freezing temperatures, it took a little time for the Jefferson Dragons' offense to warm up offensively during its Class AAA state playoff opener against the Franklin County Lions.
Model beat Union County 50-36 in the Class AA state playoff opener Friday in Blairsville.
White County fell to Cartersville, the No. 1 from Region 7-AAAA, 54-0 Friday night in the first round of the Class AAAA state playoffs at Cartersville.