Only about seven miles separate Chestatee and North Hall high schools, and in the nearly two decades since Chestatee was established, the two programs have developed a bit of a rivalry.
The annual meeting between the schools has quickly become a night to look forward to for both sides, and this coming Friday’s contest is no exception.
“Those kids know each other,” Chestatee coach Shaun Conley said. “Most of them are neighbors. They go to church together, those type of things. So that’s the fun part.”
Though Conley’s side has ended up on the losing end of the matchup more often than not — North Hall has beaten Chestatee in 15 of the 17 matchups between the teams — Conley believes his squad is on the cusp of turning the page in that department.
For the War Eagles, according to Conley, it all starts with simple execution and taking what the Trojans give them.
“We’ve got to take advantage of the opportunities,” he said. “When big plays come about, we’ve got to be able to make them. We want to focus on, just like always, the things that we can control. We’ve got to take care of the football and stuff like that. Play hard, with great effort, and we think things will be OK.”
Conley’s own plans for his team largely mimic the formula that has led North Hall to successful seasons over the past couple years.
The Trojans aren’t flashy on either side of the ball. They don’t field the biggest, the strongest or even the most highly recruited athletes, but discipline and consistency have gone a long way of late — attributes the War Eagles will need to emulate to find success come Friday.
“They’re very coached up, very disciplined, and they don’t make many mistakes,” Conley said. “If they do make mistakes, we’ve just got to be ready to take advantage of that, and we have to match their intensity and stuff like that.”
Scoring on a North Hall defense that never gave up more than 21 points in a regular season game last year and returns most of its starters will be a tough task for Chestatee. Stopping an offense that put up 60 or more points in half its contests in 2018 will be even tougher.
But whether or not his team is able to pull out a victory to start the season, Conley said his players are simply happy and ready to be back out on the football field.
“We’re excited to get to play,” he said. “It’s been a while, and we’ve played a couple of scrimmages, but those are not like the real deal. We’re just excited for the opportunity to get to play, and that’s about it. I think we’ve improved over the last month, which is what we were looking for. Hopefully that will show tomorrow night.”