Posted: Thursday, August 15th 2013 at 9:34am
Football 2013: Rejuvenated Raiders readying for battle under Pollock
By Morgan Lee Editor
HABERSHAM CENTRAL: NEED TO KNOW
TEAM COLORS: Blue and Orange
CURRENT REGION: 7-AAAAAA
HEAD COACH/RECORD AT SCHOOL: Michael Pollock, first season
2012 RECORD/ ACCOMPLISHMENTS: 1-9
KEY LOSSES: QB Jake Tench, RB Brandt Rinehart, RB/CB Jimmy Fordyce, OL Jonathan Long, DE Zach Ryneer, OLB Robert Morris, LB Adam Aguilar, P Ian Wheeler
OFFENSIVE STYLE: Pro style -- The Raiders will look to control the ball and time of possession via both the run and the pass.
KEY OFFENSIVE PLAYERS: Jr. RB Braxton Cole, Sr. FB Sydnee Mulligan, Sr. RB Brandon Moore, Sr. QB Logan Gosnell, Jr. QB Bennett Black, Jr. TE John David Herrin, Sr. OL Eric James, Sr. WR Gunner Hedden, Sr. WR Sloan Austin
DEFENSIVE STYLE: 4-3 -- Habersham will look to stop the run first.
KEY DEFENSIVE PLAYERS: Sr. DT Aaron Sloan, Sr. LB Peyton Bell, Jr. LB Will Hubley, Jr. LB Carson Bennett, So. LB Cody Patterson, Sr. CB Gunner Headen, Sr. CB Sloan Austin, Sr. Saf Corey Pearson
SPECIAL TEAMS: Sr. PK Juan Domingo, So. PK Alex Alverado (battling each other), Sr. P Jair Melendez
STRENGTH: Commitment/character -- The Raiders have shrugged off last season's difficult 1-9 campaign and have been re-invigorated by Pollock and his staff. Habersham has fully committed to battling for a top four spot in Region 7-AAAAAA.
QUESTION: Experience at offensive line -- Habersham could be starting 3-4 sophomores in the trenches in a region full of talented and experienced defensive linemen.
KEY GAMES: The opener at White County on Aug. 30 will be huge for a team looking to turn things around. The same could be said for the Sept. 6 contest against traditional rival Stephens County. The Region 7-AAAAAA schedule doesn't feature many easy nights. A visit from Mountain View (Sept. 20) could be an early indicator of Habersham's position.
TRENDING: After a very tough 1-9 induction to Class AAAAAA last season, the Raiders say they have put their collective noses back to the grindstone under a new head coach. The task won't be any easier this season, but Habersham is determined to fight it out and is aiming high.
Aug. 30 at White County
Sept. 6 vs. Stephens County
Sept. 13 at Collins Hill
Sept. 20 vs. Mountain View
Sept. 27 at Peachtree Ridge
Oct. 4 vs. Norcross
Oct. 11 at Meadowcreek
Oct. 18 vs. North Gwinnett
Oct. 25 at Duluth
Nov. 1 vs. Mill Creek
MOUNT AIRY -- For Habersham Central football, it’s all about the little things.
The Raiders aren’t worried about their schedule, the star-ratings of the opponent lined up across from them or the sheer number of players on the far sideline.
As new head coach Michael Pollock puts it, Habersham can only focus on making the most of every practice, every lifting session and every play.
“With four teams in top 10, I would say we're probably in the toughest region in the state,” said Pollock, who took over in the offseason after the Raiders went 1-9 in their first campaign in the largest classification in the state. “Our kids know what we're up against. We know our numbers aren't there with other teams (in Region 7-AAAAAA) student-body wise, but I'm used to that, and you can't use that as an excuse. You just control what you can control and the rest will take care of itself.”
What the Raiders will try to control is the physical nature of a physical game. And Pollock is determined that his team will develop a strong rushing attack and defense.
To that end, Habersham has committed to the process of working hard in the weight room, while also improving its conditioning to battle with speedy programs such as defending state champ Norcross, along with North Gwinnett, Collins Hill, Mill Creek and Peachtree Ridge.
“The kids we’ve got have committed to the program,” Pollock said. “We've had a great turnout this summer, with 80 kids doing summer workouts. I'm real excited about where we're at. Our goal is to compete for a state playoff spot. And if we can do that in this region, we can compete with anyone in the state.”
Habersham will base out of a pro-style set on offense and will utilize a 4-3 base on defense.
The offense will lean on a strong stable of running backs in 2013, including junior Braxton Cole and seniors Sydnee Mulligan and Brandon Moore. Just who will share the backfield with them has been a hotly-contested question, with senior Logan Gosnell and junior Bennett Black battling to earn the starting spot at quarterback. Yet Pollock says he will be comfortable with either and has been impressed by the ledership abilities of each.
The offense will also feature a John David Herrin at tight end and a strong pair of receivers in seniors Gunner Hedden and Sloan Austin.
The biggest question comes at offensive line, which features just one senior standout in Eric James and could see as many as four sophomores playing together.
Senior Aaron Sloan will anchor the Raiders’ defensive front, which will be supported by a linebacker corps that includes senior Peyton Bell, juniors Will Hubley and Carson Bennett and sophomore Cody Patterson.
The most settled portion of the Habersham defense comes in the secondary, where the Raiders feature four senior starters, including Hedden, Moore and Corey Pearson.
Habersham is also breaking in new placekickers and a new punter, with Jair Melendez set to punt and Juan Domingo and Alex Alvarado battling to kick.
The Raiders hope to show their renewed sense of vigor from the start, opening the season against neighbors White County and then against old rival Stephens County.
“We're excited about that. We’ve got Hart County in our scrimmage, and we’re excited about that,” Pollock said. “It’s always exciting to play people you may go to church with, see each other on weekends; you’re playing for bragging rights. And we feel like we've got a great opportunity to make a statement in opening game of the year.”
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