Posted: Thursday, August 15th 2013 at 9:43am
Football 2013: Warriors building on breakthrough campaign
By Morgan Lee Editor
WHITE COUNTY: NEED TO KNOW
TEAM COLORS: Navy, White and Vegas Gold
CURRENT REGION: 7-AAA
HEAD COACH/RECORD AT SCHOOL: Bill Ballard, third season, 10-11
2012 RECORD/ACCOMPLISHMENTS: 7-4, first round Class AAA playoffs
KEY LOSSES: QB Will Brock, OL Brett Westmoreland, OL Dylan Freeman, WR Jeff Scoggin, DL Will Stonecypher, Saf Clay Rider
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. RB Dalton Whitfield, Jr. RB Maurice Sutton, Jr. QB A.J. Vandiver, Sr. OL Jacob Motes, Jr. OL Jesse Seabolt, Jr. TE Tucker Cook
DEFENSIVE STYLE: 50 -- The Warriors want to stop the run first but have the mix of talent and experience -- 9 starters return -- to be a strength of the team.
KEY DEFENSIVE PLAYERS: Sr. LB Dalton Whitfield, Sr. DB Will Flowers, Jr. DB Coley Loudermilk, Sr. DL Sean Greer, Jr. DL Andrew Posten, Jr. DL Max Taylor, Jr. LB Sam Turner
SPECIAL TEAMS: Sr. PK Wesley Saunders, Sr. P Dalton Whitfield, kick-off specialist Bradley Hurst
STRENGTH: Defense/running backs -- The Warriors have plenty of experience and talent on the defensive side of the ball, as well as a deep group of
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 season kickoff against Habersham Central should be an intense opener between friendly neighbors. The rivalry will continue the next week at longtime foe Lumpkin County (Sept. 6). The Region 7-AAA schedule is full of tests, including back-to-back contests against favorites Buford (Oct. 11) and North Hall (Oct. 18).
TRENDING: The Warriors broke back into the postseason after just a one-year absence in 2012 and will aim for back-to-back state playoff appearances in 2013 -- which would be a first for the program. The program seems to be building momentum under Ballard and the community is excited about the future of Warriors football.
Aug. 30 vs. Habersham Central
Sept. 6 at Lumpkin County
Sept. 13 vs. Fannin County
Sept. 20 vs. Blessed Trinity
Sept. 27 at East Hall
Oct. 11 at Buford
Oct. 18 vs. North Hall
Oct. 25 vs. Dawson County
Nov. 1 at West Hall
Nov. 8 at Banks County
CLEVELAND -- Bill Ballard took over White County football with the stated goal of building a program -- not just a team.
The Warriors' progress on that front will be very much on display in 2013.
After impressing in 2012 and reaching the state playoffs, White County believes it has developed the kind of depth necessary to absorb the graduation of a few key players and still compete at the highest levels.
"We've got quite a bit back on defense, and that's something we're trying to build around," said Ballard, whose team features nine returning starters on defense. "We're excited about the season; we've been working hard, trying to get faster and stronger and taking those steps we need to take in order to become a program."
The Warriors will feature an impressive linebacker corps, led by standout Dalton Whitfield. The imposing senior saw his junior campaign derailed by a broken jaw -- a freak accident that typified a 2012 season that saw a number of White County standouts miss time through injury.
Sam Turner will also start at linebacker, while the secondary will feature senior captains Will Flowers and Coley Loudermilk, and Maurice Sutton will begin his third season as a starter at cornerback.
White County's defensive front will feature a mix of talent and experience, including defensive ends Tucker Cook and Max Taylor, who will take over from graduated standout Will Stonecypher. Meanwhile, Sean Greer and Andrew Posten will also play key roles in the Warriors' "50" front.
"The biggest thing is developing depth behind those guys," Ballard said. "We're trying to get some younger guys in there to get some reps, because you're going to need depth as the season goes on. The best thing is that we now have sophomores getting ready to try and provide depth. Two years ago we were starting a bunch of sophomores. If we can get to the point where we don't have to play freshmen and sophomores on varsity, that would be huge."
Offensively, the Warriors will turn to a junior to guide their triple option attack, as A.J. Vandiver takes over as signal caller from departed standout Will Brock.
"(Vandiver) did start the East Hall game last year and did a good job," Ballard said. "Will's a big loss; he was a great player for us. But A.J. is the same kind of player, and he's left-handed too. He runs the ball well and makes good decisions.
"Offensively I think we're growing, guys are really starting to understand what we do, which is a big thing in early season practice. They have a vision of what the offense looks like, and we're ahead of where we were last year because of that."
Vandiver will be flanked by Sutton at tailback and Turner and Whitfield at "Z" and "B" back, respectively. Cook -- a track standout in the 300 hurdles -- will also play a key role at tight end, while Whitfield and Loudermilk start at receiver.
The biggest question is on the offensive line, where the Warriors have talented, albeit young players. Center Jacob Motes is the anchor of the group, while Jesse Seabolt has made the move from defensive line. Parker Dorsey, Ethan Ramey and Cody Tanner will also feature, and each brings plenty of size to a unit that outsize what White County started in 2012.
White County will be tested early and often by a difficult schedule that includes opening games with local rivals Habersham Central and Lumpkin County. Perennial playoff program Blessed Trinity -- which knocked the Warriors from the postseason in 2012 -- is back on the schedule, as well as a tough Region 7-AAA slate that includes a state champ and semifinalist.
"I feel like this school has really taken a step to let us build a football program here," Ballard said. "We've built a middle school weight program, got a strong running program. We're really stepping in right direction."
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