Posted: Monday, August 13th 2012 at 9:43am
Football 2012: Older, wiser White County ready to compete
By Morgan Lee Editor
CLEVELAND -- Bill Ballard spent much of 2011 retooling White County football.
In 2012, Ballard is ready to see some of those changes pay dividends.
The second-year Warriors head coach says his team adapted well to the triple-option offense and “50” defense that he installed in his first season. And while White County still features plenty of youth, they will more resemble a veteran squad in 2012.
“We’re still a sophomore-laden team this year, but I think we’ll be fairly competitive,” Ballard said. “We’re definitely moving in the right direction. And though we’re young, the kids are ready to play physically and mentally. They’re way ahead of where we were last year.”
With six starters back on both sides of the ball -- and plenty of back-ups with game experience -- the Warriors will expect to improve on the 3-7 mark they put up last season -- a record that included three losses by a touchdown or less.
“It was enjoyable last year seeing the growth from these kids,” Ballard said. “We’re just working on adding depth, because that will make the difference in some of those close games.”
Some of the biggest growth came at quarterback, where starter Will Brock, now a junior, developed into the kind of quarterback a successful triple option requires.
“He’s really come a long way,” Ballard said. “He’s worked hard; he ran track in the spring to get faster, and he’s a smart kid. We’re excited about what he brings to the position.”
Brock will be aided by an experienced offensive line that Ballard feels may be the cornerstone of the squad.
“They’ll be the strength of the team,” Ballard said of a unit that returns three starters, including tackle Jake Roche, center Dylan Freeman and guard Brett Westmoreland. “They’re not huge, but they’ve got good quickness and explosion.”
Also featured on offense will be returning B-back Dalton Whitfield, a junior that led the team in rushing (and tackling) last season. Whitfield heads a sophomore-heavy running back corps. Jeff Scoggin will lead the way at receiver.
Defensively, the Warriors feature a talented and deep secondary, including junior safety Will Flowers (who will also play running back), senior safety Clay Rider and sophomore cornerback Maurice Sutton.
Senior WIll Stonecypher anchors the defensive line, while Whitfield will lead the way at linebacker.
“We need to generate some offense early and keep the defense off the field early in the year, let them develop a little more,” Ballard said.
The Warriors will also turn to junior Wesley Saunders to handle all kicking duties after just kicking off last season.
After staying in Class AAA, the Warriors have moved into Region 7-AAA, which features state power Buford and a number of other strong programs.
To that end, Ballard is continuing to build the White County program, adding a ninth grade squad and increasing the weight room and program.
“We’re trying to get this program going where we’re consistently competitive on a yearly basis,” Ballard said. “We’re definitely heading in the right direction. We’ve got some great kids here, and we’re excited about them. We just need more of them.”
WHITE COUNTY: NEED TO KNOW
TEAM COLORS: Navy, White and Vegas Gold
CURRENT REGION: 7-AAA
HEAD COACH/RECORD AT SCHOOL: Bill Ballard, seco nd season, 3-7
2011 RECORD/ACCOMPLISHMENTS: 3-7
KEY LOSSES: OL Dannen Sanderson, OL Joe Cannon, RB/DB Ryan Kennedy, PK Tucker Rey
OFFENSIVE STYLE: Triple option -- White County will look a lot like Georgia Tech and Georgia Southern: grind opponents up on the ground but also hit for big plays via the run and pass.
KEY OFFENSIVE PLAYERS: Sr. QB Will Brock, Sr. OL Brett Westmoreland, Sr. OL Jacob Roche, Sr. OL Dylan Freeman, Jr. RB Dalton Whitfield, Sr. WR Jeff Scoggin
DEFENSIVE STYLE: 50 -- The Warriors want to stop the run and also have an experienced secondary that will make it tough for opposing quarterbacks and receivers.
KEY DEFENSIVE PLAYERS: Jr. LB Dalton Whitfield, Jr. DB Will Flowers, Sr. DL Will Stonecypher, Sr. S Clay Rider, So. DB Maurice Sutton
SPECIAL TEAMS: Jr. P/PK Wesley Saunders -- Saunders took over kickoff duties last year and should be dependable.
STRENGTH: Offensive line and quarterback -- White County learned what it was supposed to do in the triple option last season. Now the Warriors are ready to put it to good use, and they have the experience and talent to do so.
QUESTION: Depth -- White County is looking for back-ups to help rotate at key positions and make the difference in the close, down-to-the-wire games.
KEY GAMES: The Warriors open against Class AAAAAA school Habersham Central (Aug. 31, away) and then face old rival Lumpkin County (Sept. 7, home) -- though the contest against the Indians is now a non-region battle. White County faces Buford, North Hall and Dawson County in consecutive Fridays (Oct. 12, 19, 26).
TRENDING: The Warriors showed last season that, despite graduating perhaps their most talented senior class of all time and learning under a new head coach, they were not ready to go without a fight. White County won three games but lost three others by a touchdown or less. The Warriors have made big changes to their program, adding a ninth grade team and increasing their youth and feeder systems, and they hope to make a big improvement in year two under Ballard.
Aug. 31 at Habersham Central
Sept. 7 vs. Lumpkin County
Sept. 14 at Fannin County
Sept. 21 vs. Blessed Trinity
Sept. 28 vs. East Hall
Oct. 12 vs. Buford
Oct. 19 at North Hall
Oct. 26 at Dawson County
Nov. 2 vs. West Hall
Nov. 9 vs. Banks County
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