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High school football: Coaches have flexibility in structuring spring practice
GHSA now allows for two scrimmages at expense of 10 spring practices
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Flowery Branch football coach Chris Griffin had to debate what was best for his program when it came to conducting spring drills this month, which is an opportunity for every school to hit the gridiron for a couple weeks to do some early evaluating of talent.

For the Falcons, it was a tough decision under the new Georgia High School Association guidelines that gives two formats coaches can follow.

Teams can use 10 practices like in the old days with a spring game and summer scrimmage against another school in August, or forego the 10 spring practices and have two summer scrimmage games.

There’s no consensus among those in Hall County that call the shots as to which method is better. It’s more a decision based on returning personnel and what’s worked best in the past.

In the end, Griffin felt that it was best to break in his new Falcons varsity players — and eight new assistant coaches — with the standard 10 spring practices that wrapped up with a spring game at Falcons Field on May 20.

“It was a last-minute decision (to go with the 10 practices),” Griffin said. “The fact we have so many new guys, we knew we needed to get them out there to evaluate who is ready to play.”

Flowery Branch’s coach said he isn’t finished adding to his staff with the possibility of two more assistant coaches coming on board in South Hall.

Still, the lure of two August scrimmages was appealing enough for first-year North Hall coach David Bishop. While the Trojans’ new coach knows well some players may like the atmosphere of practicing in the spring, Bishop believes scrimmages before the season against Gilmer and Dawson County will go further for having his program ready for opening night against Jefferson on Sept. 5 in Gainesville.

West Hall coach Tony Lotti and East Hall’s Bryan Gray are both of the belief, in their program, that having 10 spring practices is the most productive.

Lotti, who brought to the program a three-year plan when he started in 2012, exceeded those goals with a trip to the Class AAA state playoffs last season, the first for the school since 2002.

Earlier this month, he was eager just to get back around his players to enjoy the camaraderie and pick up where they left off last season in state.

It was also a time for West Hall to bring in new defensive coordinator Jay Reid, who Lotti says will do a phenomenal job with the talent he has to work with.

“It was a great spring practice for us,” Lotti said. “It’s great to be back around the guys and evaluate all of the players in the system.”

The Vikings’ coach didn’t hesitate either at the 10-practice session in the spring. The Vikings are bringing in many players with limited background in football, so as much instructional time as they can receive early on, the better.

“You can get some of the most physical work done on the field during the spring,” Gray said.

High school football practice begins Aug. 1. The earliest Friday of the regular season for local programs in Aug. 23.

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