PHS Dragons football preview - Looking for that “12th game”
The 2016-2017 PHS Dragons Football Team
Update - The Dragons won big time in Friday's scrimmage, 41-0 over Coosa. See Sports in this week's edition for a complete report.
With the summer coming to an end the beginning of football season is right around the corner. The Pickens Dragons are coming off back-to-back 8-3 seasons and hoping to build off of that momentum and do something that no team in Pickens County has ever done, and that is play in a 12th game.
“It has been great to make the playoffs the past two seasons but this year our goal is to take it a step further and play in that 12th game,” Coach Chris Parker said when asked about his team’s goal for the upcoming season. “We have a great group of seniors who we are counting on to lead us, especially early in the season against some tough opponents. The Dragons have a difficult road ahead as they play two schools coming off playoff seasons last year in Pepperell and North Hall, as well as two schools with a much bigger enrollment in Chattahoochee and North Forsyth. “Our non-region schedule will definitely be a good test for us, but it should prepare us to be very competitive when region play does come around, and to ultimately prepare us for that 12th game.”
The Dragons are expecting good things from their offense this season as five of the top seven rushers return off one of the best rushing attacks in Georgia last year. Senior Chris Pittman leads that charge after rushing for 1335 yards and 18 TD’s last season, but he won’t be alone as Junior Kelton Gilbert, Sophomore Trevon Hawkens and Junior Dylan Huffman all have the ability to make explosive plays out of the backfield. The quarterbacking duties this season will fall to Junior Jacob Brumby who came in late last season due to inquiries and performed very well.
The offensive line looks to pick up right where it left off last season returning a very good group of seniors in Andrew Hasbrouck, Connor Head, Josh Holbert and Zayne Burtz.
“We brought in a new coach this year in Ty Maxwell to work with the offensive line and he has brought a lot of enthusiasm to our program which the kids really seem to like and has really helped us progress as a team,” Parker said. “The wide receivers are looking to be much more involved this year than in past years. With the likes of Elijah Lawson, Luke Smith, Michael Casey, Josh Cain and Zach Goss, the position is loaded with guys capable of making big plays when the ball is in their hands.
When it comes to the defensive side of the ball the Dragons are looking to fill the void left by seven seniors who are gone from last season’s team. The biggest strength this season should be the defensive line, led by Senior’s Alex Pittman and Nick Southern.
“Everything starts up front and we feel like we have two of the best players around anchoring our defensive line.”
The linebackers are led by Senior Jacob Gordon, the team’s leading returning tackler with 77, who hopes to build off of last season’s success. Gordon will also have some more help this year with fellow seniors Jordan Burton and Michael Cain expected to step in a big way as well.
In the secondary there are a couple of new faces mixed with two returning starters in senior safeties Will Wotring and Avery Luke. Luke led the team last season with four INTs and the coaches are expecting that number to be even higher this year. Wotring is one of the team’s best tacklers and with the most experience he is expected to be the leader of the back half of the defense. “We pride ourselves on being a physical football team and a lot of that starts with the defense,” Coach Parker said. “Our ability to get people off the field and win key downs will be a big part of whether or not we are successful this year.”
The special teams will be forced to replace an all-region kicker and punter from last season’s team. The punting duties will fall to Chris Pittman who does have some experience and has looked very good in practice. At kicker there is still much to be decided, Juniors Caleb Lambert and Rudolfo Perez have been battling all summer to try and secure the kicking duties.
“Competition is a good thing and hopefully it’s making everyone better” said kicking coach Tony Flynn. As far as who is going to be the kicker when the season starts Coach Parker had this to say: “We probably won’t make a decision until right before the start of the season, both of these young men are very good kickers and hopefully we can take advantage of both of their skills.”
Dragons begin their season on August 12th when they scrimmage at home against Coosa High School and the first game being the following Friday, August 19th against Chattahoochee also at home. Admission to all games is $7 at the gate, so come out and support the Dragons this season as the fight and claw their way to that 12th game.