November 23, 2017

Braves fired up for appearance on ESPN August 26

(Franklin, GA) — Coach Tim Barron and the Braves varsity football squad are enjoying a rest from summer workouts and camps this week as part of the GHSA mandated “dead week” before kicking it back into high gear next week.

The Braves are preparing for the upcoming 2017 season and an exciting early season non-region contest that will be nationally televised on ESPNU in late August.

The Braves will battle the Saraland, AL Spartans in the first game of the ESPN doubleheader at Cartersville High School (GA) on Saturday afternoon, August 26 with a kickoff time of 3:30 PM EST.

The second game of the twin bill kicks off at 6:30 p.m. and will feature Auburn quarterback commit Joey Gatewood and Bartram Trail (Fla.) against Clemson QB commit Trevor Lawrence and homestanding Cartersville. That game will be televised by ESPN2. Cartersville has won 30 games in a row and two straight state titles.

The doubleheader highlights four of the top quarterbacks in the nation for 2017. Stanford commit Jack West will lead Saraland against Ohio State commit Emory Jones and the Braves.

Barron, in his 16th season at the helm for Heard County, is excited for his guys to have the opportunity to compete on a national stage but knows the much larger Class 6A opponent from Alabama will be a very challenging task for his smaller Class 2A Braves.

“We knew going in this was a blind contract and we could face a much bigger school, but we didn’t want our kids to miss out on such a rare opportunity to play on television,” said Barron this week.

“Saraland is very well-coached and we know it’s going to be a huge challenge. We have watched film on them and if they are anywhere close to where they were a year ago it will be a tough match-up. They would definitely be a state title contender in our Class AA league here.”

Barron says he can already see the kids are excited about the game and working extra hard to prepare for it.

“If we get through this game healthy and the kids get to be on ESPN that is just great for our program. The concern you have is that they go out there that day and forget about everything else — but there’s no doubt they are fired up and motivated.”

The head coach also knows he has to make sure the kids stay focused on the first game of the season, a home opener versus South Atlanta on August 18.

“South Atlanta was much improved last season and we barely were able to walk out with the win. Their coach has them moving in the right direction and we can’t look past them in our opener this year,” added Barron.

The ESPN contract is another result of the hype surrounding Brave star quarterback Emory Jones — ESPN’s No. 22 ranked player in the nation according to the ESPN 300.

Saraland coach Jeff Kelley is also excited about his team’s chance to compete in the national spotlight.

“We are honored to be included in the ESPN kickoff weekend,” Saraland coach Jeff Kelly told AL.com last week. “It should be a great experience for our kids and a chance to represent our city and fans. We know we will be playing a very good Heard County football team with a lot of people watching so we better be ready to go.”

Following the ESPNU game, the Braves will face three more non-region match-ups at New Manchester (Sept. 1), versus Darlington (Sept. 8), and at Central (Sept. 15).

The Region 5-AA schedule kicks off at Temple on September 26 and then the Braves will have back-to-back bye weeks before a huge showdown with region favorite Callaway on October 13 at Staples Stadium.

The Braves close out the regular season with region home games versus Jordan (Oct. 20) and Spencer on November 3 and an important road game at Lamar County on October 27.

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