High school football
Spring game dates
Chestatee: May 13, 7:30 p.m.
Flowery Branch: May 16, 7 p.m.
Gainesville: May 13, 6 p.m.
Johnson: May 16, 7 p.m.
North Hall: May 13, 7 p.m.
West Hall: May 12, 5 p.m.
NOTE: East Hall, Lakeview and Riverside Military will not have spring scrimmages.
This week marked the first time the Georgia High School Association allowed high schools to conduct spring football practices, with each team allowed to hold 10 practices, and most conclude their spring with a scrimmage.
At Gainesville, Red Elephants coach Bruce Miller said this week has gone well.
“It has gone great so far,” he said. “The player attitudes are super; of course this cool weather helps. We have a lot of people hustling around trying to catch the coaching staff’s attention, and there seems to be some answers to some of our questions.
“We’ve got a lot of holes to fill with graduating so many seniors. There are some very promising prospects out there. We’ve got over 120 kids who turned out.”
This time last year, the Red Elephants were searching for a quarterback to replace Blake Sims, who redshirted last year at the University of Alabama. Incoming freshman DeShaun Watson turned heads and eventually won the starting job over junior Stephen Mason, who helped fill a receving void left by Tai-ler Jones, who is now at Notre Dame.
This year, the big void to fill is linebacker A.J. Johnson, who signed to play at the University of Tennessee.
“I don’t know if it’s possible to replace A.J.,” Miller said. “Players like him come through only a few times in a lifetime. But a collective group that plays to their responsibility can make missing him smaller. You’ll miss him no matter what, but we can hope for everyone playing hard and playing together as a linebacker unit.”
At Chestatee, War Eagles coach Stan Luttrell said about 80 students are participating in practices.
“It’s going great,” Luttrell said. “They’re working really hard and we’re ready to have a good 2011 — it’s that simple. A lot of guys got experience last year, and we’re looking to build on that and improve on last year.
We’re returning several guys and have a lot of young guys that are going to have to step up.
“We’ve got 120 days to get better.”
NO MORE SOCCER IN HALL COUNTY: This was not a good week for Hall County schools in the state soccer tournament. Chestatee and Flowery Branch’s girls, and Johnson, Gainesville, North Hall and Riverside Military Academy’s boys teams were all eliminated from the state playoffs.
Last week, Chestatee and East Hall’s boys lost, along with West Hall and Johnson’s girls.
This year marks the first since 2007 that no Hall County school advanced past the second round of state. It was a relatively down year for Hall County, given the past two seasons when a school from the county played in the state championship game.
The Red Elephants beat Woodward Academy last year for the Class AAA state title.