GOW Gameday Preview – South Paulding vs Douglas County
This week’s VNN-GA Game of the Week has the South Paulding Spartans on the road to taking on the Douglas County Tigers tonight 7:30pm at New Manchester HS. Watch online – https://www.nfhsnetwork.com/events/douglas-county-high-school-douglasville-ga/gamf9ed7c6fa7, Radio Coverage – https://www.streamcity.org/douglascounty & Live Score Feed – https://dctigersathletics.com/tigers-live-scores-fall-2020/.
South Paulding is led by 1st year Coach Jason Nash. The Spartans are 3-3 overall, 1-2 in region and looking to get back in the win column tonight after a tough loss to Carrollton last week. The Spartans have season victories over Hiram, Chapel Hill & Dalton and will need a solid effort on both sides of the ball to draw even in region play tonight.
The Tigers are led by Head Coach Johnny White who is in his 5th year as the Douglas County head man. The Tigers are 5-1 overall, 2-1 in region and also looking to get back in the win column tonight after a 1 point loss to the Paulding Co Patriots last week. The Tigers have season victories over Lithia Springs, Stockbridge, Dutchtown, East Paulding & Alexander and will look for solid play on both sides of the ball to move to 3-1 in region play tonight.
I recently had a Q&A with both coaches discussing the season to date & tonight’s game.
What is your biggest area of concern(s) at this point of the season?
Coach Nash – “Every year, my main concern at this point in the season is injuries. The teams that can stay healthy are usually the teams that can make a run. With missing so much of our strength and conditioning program due to COVID restrictions, this year this concern is magnified because we did not get several months to prepare our players bodies like we normally do.”
Coach White – “Staying healthy getting better every day and competing in such a strong region.”
What has been your team’s strengths that have come to light during your first few games?
Coach Nash – “Our defense continues to play well, but the biggest surprise has actually been our sophomore class. We play about 7 sophomores on Friday nights.”
Coach White – “The unity of this bunch. They play together very impressed with their bond.”
Has anyone or anything stood out as the most surprising or unexpected positive during the fist part of the season?
Coach Nash – “Jamarion Wilcox a class of 2023 RB has come onto the scene and made a huge impact for us in the run game. 2023 Center Andrew Young gets better every game, but the play of Jalen Marshall on the defensive side of the ball cannot go unnoticed. We moved him from his FS position, where he has played the last 3 years, to an Pony position to try and get him more involved. The result has been fantastic. He is averaging double digit tackles per game, but still has the ability to play pass coverage for us as well.”
Coach White – “Samson Isreal. Jr DB. With Kani Walker the Louisville commit on the other side, teams have been going at him a lot. He’s stepped up to the challenge. Also Shakai Woods. Soph. LB. We knew that he was going to be good, but he’s been playing LIGHTS OUT this year. On the offensive side. Tyler Fairley, and Neuance Hadden both first time offensive lineman moving over from defense have played very well for us.”
Any thoughts on how COVID as impacted the season to date – good or bad or in general?
Coach Nash – “I think the biggest impact COVID has made with our football team has been with the team chemistry. Normally before we play a game, we have had 4 months in the weight room and 4 on 1 work, then 10 days of spring practice with a scrimmage at the end, at least 2 7 on 7 tournaments, 2 OTA’s, and a fall scrimmage. This year we did not get any of that, so it has taken a lot more time for our team to develop chemistry with each other. ”
Coach White – “It’s the new normal. We have to adjust our practice schedules based on when our kids can get to school because most of our team is in school virtual. We are completing all of the COVID protocols daily. We just have to be safe and pray that we can make it through the season. ”
Any final thoughts on the game, the season? or anything you would like added to the article?
Coach Nash – “We are excited for this game. We know Douglas County has probably had this one circled on the calendar since last year. We understand we have put ourselves behind the 8 ball, so to speak, by losing to Rome and Carrollton, so we know exactly where we stand and exactly how big of a game this is. It’s going to be exciting to see it unfold on Friday night at 7:30.”
Coach White – “This is going to be a very hard game for us. In 2018 it took a play with under a minute for us to pull out a victory. Last year they handed us our first region loss at home. They are a very well coached team and we are both fighting for a playoff spot. We are going to need our best game for us to be successful.”
Thanks to both coaches for their time & input. Looks to be an awesome game, wishing both teams well in tonight’s match up!