November 15, 2018

Nick Simon previews tonight’s Region 5-AA clash at Staples Stadium

Courtesy of Nick Simon and the Times-Georgian

(Franklin, GA) — For the past two seasons, “Pulpwood Classic” clashes between the Heard County and Callaway high school football teams have effectively determined who walks out of Region 5-AA hoisting the championship trophy.

Even with the addition of No. 4 Bremen to the league title hunt, the stakes for Friday’s 7:30 p.m. matchup between the Braves (5-2, 3-0 Region 5-AA) and No. 2 Cavaliers (7-1, 4-0) haven’t changed one bit with the winner walking out of Staples Stadium with sole possession of first place.

Heard County head coach Tim Barron indicated that his players have had a good start to their week of preparation and fully plan to ratchet things up as the rivalry bout draws near.

“Monday was really good. Tuesday we still had to do a lot of install and do a lot of talking and communicating. It wasn’t the tempo that we wanted at practice, but I think the kids were mentally focused and dialed in,” Barron said. “(Wednesday) will be a tempo day, so I’m looking forward to picking the tempo back up and having quicker reps throughout the practice.”

HC enters the major battle fresh off a 58-6 dumping of Jordan last Friday night, one in which the Brave defense limited the Red Jacket offense to just 62 yards on the evening.

Since a sluggish 1-2 start to open the season, Heard has come into form by rattling off four straight dominant victories. The Maroon and White have averaged 43 points per game in those contests, while limiting opponents to just 6.3.

According to the veteran Barron, the key to their success over the past month has been the cohesion of their men in the trenches.

“The offensive line has improved every week since we’ve started this year. That was a group where we had high expectations from the get-go,” Barron said. “When you’re playing O-line, so much of it is timing and knowing what everybody else is doing. It took us longer to gel, but every week they’ve gotten better and better up front. Of course, Friday night’s challenge will be bigger, and we’ll find out how much they’ve really improved when they line up against Callaway.”

Also stepping his game up in recent weeks has been senior quarterback Alijah Huzzie, who accounted for four touchdowns on both the ground and threw the air in last week’s blowout.

Securing the game-clinching interception in last year’s epic battle against Callaway, the HC head coach is looking for his veteran to come up big this time around under center.

“Huzzie’s performance every week has gotten better,” Barron said. “He’s been one of those guys that’s really progressed and he needed those reps. You can really see that the experience he got in the first half of the season is really starting to pay off.”

The Braves are bracing for the challenge heading their way on Friday with a Cavalier offense powered by the legs of four-star running back Cartavious “Tank” Bigsby, who has already rushed for 1,238 yards on the season.

Creating those holes have been a massive offensive line led by three-star junior Tate Johnson and Auburn verbal commit Keiondre Jones.

Barron knows that it will be an all-hands-on-deck effort to corral this offense.

“Tank Bigsby in the backfield is one of the best players in AA. You can’t hide it. He’s extremely talented, runs really hard and is behind a humongous offensive line,” Barron said.

“And then you put (Jacob) Freeman in there at quarterback and now you’ve got two Division I athletes that can touch the ball on any play. You take those two exceptional athletes, combine them with a bunch of really good skill athletes and put that big line in front of them, it creates our biggest task in a while defensively.”

Friday night’s contest will broadcast live on B-92.1 FM.

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