May 24, 2018

Summer Sweat Continues for Braves

Article written by Jordan Hofeditz and provided courtesy of The Times-Georgian

(Carrollton, GA) — The summer has been a busy one for the Heard County High School football team, which traveled to Central on Tuesday morning to get some 7-on-7 work in against the Lions.

The key to getting on the field is to take chances and make mistakes now so they are fixed by the time the season comes around.

With a passing practice not being a true indication of offense or defense, it is a time to learn and get better once the pads come on and it’s 11-versus-11.

“You’d much rather mistakes be made out here. [Central] coach [Rico] Zackery will tell you that neither team showed up mentally, but I think as time progressed we got something positive out of it. It was good work, we got to see some things,” Heard County head  coach Tim Barron said.

“If you make a mistake out here, throw a pick, no one’s going to remember six weeks into the season. This is where you learn. This is where you make quick decisions, right or wrong, and then coaches you up. The big thing we look for is effort.”

It took a little bit of time to get going, but once they did things started to come together a little better for the Braves.

There isn’t much time left with a scrimmage one month away and the season opener getting closer and closer.

“It’s great for them to be outside, it’s great for their body to get used to the heat, it’s great for everybody to get reps. There’s not a kid we brought who didn’t get reps,” Barron said.

“We may throw one more time … We’ll finish things up next week with our Iron Brave competition and the kids always look forward to that.”

The heat is going to come into play because Heard County will open up the season at 5:30 p.m. on a Saturday at Mercer. The Braves found out quickly last year how hot it is playing at that time of day in August. They want to make sure they are ready to go this time around.

“We’re still not in the shape we need to be. If you’re going to open up at 5:30 with Fitzgerald in Macon, it’s going to be awfully, awfully hot. We’ve still got a long ways to go with conditioning. That’s why they’re getting in [hills] now even after they did all this,” Barron said. “They understand it. It’s just all part of our process.”

Head coach Tim Barron talks to his players during Heard County's 7-on-7 practice at Central on Tuesday morning. (Photo: Ricky Stilley/Times-Georgian)

Head coach Tim Barron talks to his players during Heard County’s 7-on-7 practice at Central on Tuesday morning. (Photo: Ricky Stilley/Times-Georgian)

Two players have made big strides this summer and showed it on Tuesday in the receiving corps. With the possibility of throwing the ball more this fall, having players who can get open and come down with the ball is something the Braves will need.

They also got a good look at backup quarterback Chandler Polk, who took most of the reps.

“Austin Miller had a good day. He’s a guy that needs to be our vertical threat. He’s got the ability to stretch the field,” Barron said.

“I thought another guy who’s coming on for us is Lashon Echols, he did some good things. I thought Chandler, who is our No. 2 QB, did some good things. Started off a little slow, but he finished very strong. You can’t control it. You’re one play away from one of those guys having to play.”

The Braves worked with Polk taking the reps at quarterback with rising sophomore Emory Jones out at a camp in Alabama. Coming off his freshman season, Jones has stayed plenty busy this summer. Jones has already picked up an offer from Mississippi State and has gone to some top quarterback camps this offseason.

With a weapon like Duranta Dunson gone and a year under his belt, the Braves will put more on Jones’ plate and expect him to rise to the occasion.

“He’s been awfully busy. The thing I’m excited about with him is he’s committed to being better. There’s no telling how many camps he’s been to. And not just showcase camps, but elite working QB camps. He’s stayed busy,” Barron said.

“With that we’ve missed him some, but we know he’s working somewhere and we’re proud of his work ethic. Obviously, we’re going to have to ask more of him this year.”

On the defensive side of the ball, the Braves have a little more experience. Not just in returning players, but also in the system. After changing defenses last offseason, things have been smoother this summer coming into things with some familiarity.

“I think defensively we’re ahead of where we were this time last year because of the installation. It was new to them last year and now it’s coming pretty naturally to them. There’s a lot to be excited about,” Barron said. “We’re about to run that gauntlet the first five ballgames. If we can stay healthy, if we can stay together and get better every week, then it gets us ready for region play.”

Even though last year’s senior class was small in size, it had a big impact on the Braves and their trip to the Class AA state quarterfinals. Without those players there might be a drop-off in talent, but the team plans to make up for that by working harder than anyone else.

“The upperclassmen we’ve got this year, they’re blue-collar,” Barron said. “Talent-wise, we graduated four seniors that were pretty dang good and graduated five starters in that senior class. Talent-wise we may be down a tad, but I think character and work ethic I think we’re up. It’s fun to coach these kids.”

As for the importance of summer, it’s the key to everything for the Braves. The entire summer is helping set up the start of the season. With a scrimmage right around the corner, Heard County can’t wait until the pads are on to get things going.

“Summer is everything for us. We install all summer long and we put a lot of time and work on the field. Those things are awfully important. The kids have put the time in,” Barron said. “It’s about installation, it’s about getting reps, it’s about execution, it’s about coming in the first day of practice that we’re not starting from scratch.”

2015 Braves Varsity Football Schedule

Friday, August 14:  Scrimmage  vs. Alexander (HOME)

Friday, August 21:  Scrimmage vs Greenville (HOME)

Saturday, August 29:  -vs- Fitzgerald @ Mercer University

Friday, September 4:  vs. Callaway (HOME)

Friday, September 11:  vs South Atlanta (HOME)

Friday, September 18:  vs. Cedartown (HOMECOMING)

Friday, September 25:  @ Macon County

Friday, October 2:  @ Chattahoochee County*

Friday, October 9:  OPEN

Friday, October 16:  vs. Manchester (HOME)*

Friday, October 23:  vs. Bowdon (HOME)*

Friday, October 30:  @ Temple*

Friday, November 6:  @ Bremen*

*Region 5-AA Games

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