We’ve been talking about it all summer. I’ve covered more camps than I can count. Young athletes have been out as early as January lifting and preparing for it. Finally on Wednesday I felt it.
Football season is coming.
Wednesday morning bright and early found me on the football field of Fannin County High School covering the last day of their youth football camp. Now as I said a few sentences earlier I’ve been out all summer covering football camps, but this was the first time it really clicked with me that we are only a few weeks away. And I won’t lie, a lot of it had to do with the weather.
There was a slight breeze and I dare to say chill on Wednesday that I hadn’t felt all summer. Granted it was early in the morning and I’m so used to summer heat that even the slightest temperature drop can make me reach for my jacket. But this time, surrounded by young athletes who are the future of their program, it all started to set in.
It’s hard to imagine Friday Night Lights when it’s 90 degrees in Georgia in the middle of July. When I think of football I think of all the late Friday afternoons when I was in high school and the trees were ablaze with the bright orange and reds of fall. I think of the UGA games I’ve gone to where it’s been so cold part of the reason I was standing was not so much to cheer than to try and keep warm.
I will admit, football season has kind of snuck up on me this year. Earlier in the summer, Team FYN Sports was in baseball mode covering the local youth tournaments. I was in baseball mode keeping up with the Braves. But this is the South, and not just the South but SEC stronghold too. So of course even though baseball comes to the forefront, football stays simmering on the back burner at all times. That’s another reason why when I felt that cooler air on Wednesday, I was so easily able to slip back into football mode.
Local high schools start back as early as the week after next, with scrimmages coming the week after and then regular season the week after that. It’s crazy to think how time flies, and for teams that have been out practicing all summer, they realize that this is where the rubber meets the road.
I remember the first story I did for Team FYN Sports involving football was earlier this summer when Dawson County scrimmaged Pickens in a spring game. It took me a moment to realize when I got to the Dawson County field to realize that were weren’t in August, and this being in May we still had another three full months to go. But you couldn’t have told that to either of the two sides that night.
The Dawson County mommas circled up for pre-game prayer, and lined up to form a tunnel for their sons to run through onto the field. Both home and away stands had a decent amount of fans to fill them. Both schools even brought their marching bands, and Pickens brought their cheerleaders. This energy is what I try to convey to everyone when I say that sports, and especially football, create a community rivaled by few other events.
Each time I’ve gone to a camp, or scrimmage, or even just a practice in this community, I’ve seldom been the only one there who is not a part of the team. Parents will come by to see their sons, or even just community members will drop by to get a look at the team before they run out for the first game. There’s something else special about following a team from the ground up, a season from the beginning to end. I know I’m not the only one that feels that way, and it makes my job all the much more enjoyable.
Over the last couple of weeks BKP and I have been going around North Georgia and interviewing coaches from all of the teams we cover. While last week I focused on the coaches and all of the effort that they have been putting in, it’s no overstatement to say that these players have been putting in their fair share too.
And they all seem ready. They’ve all been lifting and getting stronger since the beginning of the year. They’ve been out running drills and working for positions since the weather was warm enough. Now they’re breaking out the pads, helmets and fine tuning plays until it’s time for that first kick-off.
Football season is coming, and from the locker room to the press box, I think we’re all ready.
Over the last week and a half BKP and I have been going from school to school interviewing head football coaches for our North Georgia Coaching Series. Now if any of y’all know BKP, you’ll know what I mean when I say that he’s been doing most of the talking and I’ve been doing most of the observing. But this doesn’t bother me, it gives me a chance to learn more about the programs I’ll be spending a lot of time with this fall.
With that being said, there’s one thing in particular I’ve been noticing in our interviews, and that’s how much these coaches truly care about their players and their programs.
Now me saying that might make some of y’all think, “Well, duh. That’s what they’re supposed to do.” Well, maybe. But I like to think I’m pretty good at picking up when someone is just putting on an act for appearances. And I can say with all sincerity that none of these coaches are doing that.
Obviously when BKP and I go into these interviews, he asks questions about what the teams have been doing during the summer and how they’re planning to prepare for the regular season. But he also asks the coaches if they can highlight a few players that have really stood out. This point in the interview, I believe, is where a coach who didn’t care would possibly just say a couple names and move on.
But these coaches not only name the players, they tell us about why they stand out. And it’s a sign of the hard work of these athletes, but there’s also a sense of pride from these coaches as they name them. A couple of coaches have mentioned that it’s hard to name just a few, because all of their players have worked hard. And it’s not that the rest of the team doesn’t matter or that they don’t care about them, but the ones that they mention they do so without hesitation because they’ve been there with them through the summer truly coaching them. There’s no so-so about the commitment these coaches make- they’re all in.
Another thing that has amazed me about these coaches, not just in the interviews but learning about them off the field, is how much they care about their community as well. A couple of them, such as Chad Cheatham at Fannin County and Chad McClure at Hayesville, are natives to their communities. It’s home to them, and they’re not going to be just halfway in their commitments to their programs.
When Coach Caleb Sorrells of the Lumpkin County Indians was first named as head coach, the school hosted a meet and greet for him. It was one of the first stories I covered in this position.
In his address to the parents, Sorrells promised to not only invest in the team as players and athletes, but as men who would one day be employees and fathers. I remember being caught off guard at first because I was expecting him to talk about plans for the future of the program, the summer schedule and what not. He did talk about these things, but I believe by telling the parents that he was going to invest in the players as men showed that it was going to be a priority.
Although I know more about the commitment that Sorrells has made because I’m positioned in Lumpkin County, he’s not the only one in the area who gets involved in the community and works to build up the athletes’ character.
Tim Cokely with the White County Warriors has an entire wall of his office decorated with signs of good character qualities to instill in the team. Chad Cheatham, who I mentioned earlier, referees basketball in the football off-season just because, and the community loves him for it. I’m sure that many of the other coaches in the area do similar things and I just don’t know about it yet.
These are commitments that we see played out by coaches in movies and don’t always think to look for in real life. And because I grew up in Gwinnett County, population one million, if there was this sort of commitment by coaches I didn’t always see it because there were so many people. I love living up here in North Georgia in a smaller community where an act of kindness, especially where sports are concerned, rarely goes unnoticed.
We think about football as a sport that instills a since of discipline, but why is that? Because there’s a coach that sets that standard and inspires the team to do the same. As a community we love football and we love our team, and we can thank a coach for that.
MURPHY, N.C.- The Murphy Bulldogs won Friday’s game against the East Surry Cardinals, which secured the bulldogs place in the final regional game being held in Mount Airy this Friday Dec 1, 2017.
As the team captains took the field, the bulldogs won the coin toss, showing the coaches had great faith in their defense. The coaches would not be disappointed. After a strong defensive showing by the Bulldogs, Chase Roberts (#40) ran for 1-yard to put Murphy on the board first, with a 7-0 lead following the perfect PAT by Katelyn Jones.
A few plays follow the kickoff, Tanner Creelman (#25) picked off a pass to give the ball back to the explosive Murphy offense.
Joey Curry (#1) and Slade McTaggert (#32) took turns chopping up the Cardinals on the ground as the Bulldogs pounded the ball upfield, until Curry connected with Micah Nelson (#2) for a 54 touchdown strike. Jones aced the PAT and the Dogs were rolling, 14-0.
Roberts, who plays both sides of the ball, came away with the second interception of the night for the Bulldogs on the next series, and an unsportsmanlike conduct call against the Cardinals put the Dogs right back in scoring position, but they were unable to capitalize on this possession. As the quarter came to a close, Murphy was in control of their own destiny with a 14-0 lead.
With 11:54 remaining in the half, East Surry finally found the end zone, cutting the lead to 7.
It wouldn’t take Murphy long to answer, however, as Devonte Murray (#28) carried the ball from 5 yards out on 3rd down to put Murphy back up by 14. PAT good, 21-7.
Murphy would put another touchdown on the scoreboard before the half, completely dominating on their way to the final four in the 1AA State Championship brackets.
Bulldogs McTaggart (#32) rushed for a team-high 180 yards and two touchdowns. It was the Bulldogs #40 Chase Roberts who lead the team with three touchdowns, of which two being scored in the first half of the game.
Bulldogs senior QB #1 Joey Curry completed 6-of-12 passing attempts with one touchdown in the game. The Bulldogs once again showed their strength on the ground, with a rush-heavy offense, rushing for 437 yds, with 103 pass yds respectively.
East Surry struggled on the field with several penalty flags being thrown for unsportsmanlike behavior and personal fouls. After all was said and done, East Surry somehow managed to score four player ejections from the game for these penalties, but falling short on the win against Murphy.
In the end, the Bulldogs won the game with a final score of 49-27.
The Murphy Bulldogs will go toe to toe with the Mount Airy Granite Bears (13-0,5-0) for a spot at the state championships. If the Bulldogs defeat Mount Airy on Friday, then this will be the Bulldogs 12th time since 1972 going to the state championships. Below you will find a list of the final four teams who will vie for a spot in the state championship game.
It was freezing cold last night when the Murphy Bulldogs (10-2,5-1) played against South Stanly (5-7,4-3)in the first round of playoffs. You could tell the Bulldogs were ready for a battle before the game started. The boys were pumped along with the coaches as they embarked on their journey towards the first game of the playoffs.
Murphy won the coin toss, but elected that South Stanly kick off with Murphy to receive the ball. #89 Travis Seabolt returned the ball to the Bulldogs 47 for 12 yards. With 7:50 mins left in the 1st Q, the Bulldogs scored the first touchdown and the PAT was good by #3 Katelyn Jones.
#10 Kaivon Allen scored a 21 yard touchdown. A two-point conversion was attempted and made good by #10 as well. QB #1 Joey Curry scored the third touchdown, but the two-point conversion that was attempted by #32 Slade McTaggart was unsuccessful. This bringing the score to 21-0.
In the 2nd Q, #1 Joey Curry threw a pass incomplete to #12 Hagan Newton to the Bulls 17 yard line for 0 yards . A penalty was handed to South Stanly for defense roughing the passer for 15 yards.
It wasn’t as if the Bulldogs needed any help with scoring, but the Rebel Bulls scored a safety for which brought the already embarrassing score to the 30-0, Bulldogs. It seemed as if South Stanly came back in the second half a little more charged, scoring 13 points. Unfortunately the possibility to win was long gone in the first half of the game.
The final score was 44-13, Bulldogs! Murphy will face off against North Stanly in New London, NC for the second round of playoffs, this Friday November 17th, 2017, with kick off starting at 7:30pm.
Cherokee, N.C.- The Murphy Bulldogs game Friday night against The Cherokee Braves was an intense game no doubt! Previously, Cherokee was undefeated until the Bulldogs came in and handed them their first loss of the season. A few weeks ago, I interviewed Murphy’s Coach Nelson, a statement I remember was the coach answering with “These boys are a second half team. They come back stronger.” Well, that statement proved to be true.
In the 2nd Q, it was Murphy’s #32, Slade McTaggart who score the first touchdown followed by #3 Katelyn Jones making good on the PAT. It wasn’t until the 3rd Q when the game started to pick up. Murphy scored two more touchdowns, while Cherokee was just making their first touchdown of the game by #5 I Evans. PAT by #30 T Pete was no good. The 4th Q Murphy came in even stronger by scoring three more touchdowns with every single PAT being good. Cherokee was finally able to score their last and final touchdown, again, by #5 I Evans. That PAT was blocked however.
This Friday, The Murphy Bulldogs will have a home non-conference game against South Stanly (5-6,4-3) from Norwood, N.C. @7:30 pm November 10th, 2017. Come cheer on The Murphy Bulldogs and show that Bulldog pride!
Murphy, N.C.- Friday night, The Murphy Bulldogs (8-2,4-1) hosted a conference game against The Rosman Tigers (2-8,1-4) for their Senior Night. For many of the players, this would be their last home game as a Senior at MHS. Lot’s of proud parents walked their children onto the field with a look of pure joy. The coaches gleamed with pride and proudful expressions as the Seniors walked onto the field. It was bittersweet.
It was a cold night temperature wise, but the Bulldogs wasted no time at warming up the field with their impressive win against the Tigers. The final score was 48-22! The first TD was scored by #10 Keivon Allen for 16 yds followed by a PAT by #3 Katelyn Jones. In the 2nd Q, #28 Devonte Murray was handed the ball and scored a 21 yard TD. QB #1 Joey Curry followed up with three more TD passes with #3 Katelyn Jones making good on 3 of the 4 PAT’s. The 3rd Q, Murphy score 2 more TD’s bringing them to a score of 48. Despite Rosman’s 3 TD’s and 3 onside kick recoveries, they fell all too short to The Bulldogs dominating defense.
When I asked The Bulldogs, Coach Gentry how he prepared the boys for this game, he stated that he felt he didn’t need to over work them. That you would only over work the players had they not tried in their previous game. Fact is, the boys did try, and they worked hard. However, you may not win every game. Obviously this coach knows what he’s talking about because The Bulldogs came back with a vengeance and took victory over The Rosman Tigers
This Friday, November 3rd, come out and show your Bulldogs support when they face off against Cherokee in a away game. Kick off starts @7:30pm!
Come out and show your Bulldog pride tonight as The Murphy Bulldogs (7-2,3-1) set out to claim victory against The Rosman Tigers (2-7,1-3)! Tonight’s game will be a home conference game with kick off starting at 7:30 pm. Although the Bulldog’s have been in the dog house since falling short against Swain County at last Fridays game, the Bulldog’s will prevail to no end! I’m sure Murphy will rise up with a vengeance, and dominate Rosman as they have done so in the past. So come out and show your Bulldog pride and team spirit! GO BULLDOGS!
TeamFYNSports director Jason Banks called in this morning for our Monday Morning Quarterback segment. He and BKP discussed Fannin’s tough loss to Lumpkin, Ridgeland’s win over Pickens, and East Hall’s loss at Dawson. Follow TeamFYNSports for all your up to date high school football coverage in our North Ga region. Every Friday night we have your complete sideline coverage.