Photo by Derrick Mahone
Henry County first-year coach Joe Dupree hasn’t been shy with his Warhawks this summer. He’s trying to get them back to the state playoffs despite losing nearly 30 seniors to graduation.
Step to the podium, Henry County high school football.
What will you have to say this season?
Every season there’s been more and more to hear.
Records are starting to fall. Eagle’s Landing Christian is winning more per season than this county could ever imagine. Dutchtown’s 11 wins in 2010 were the most by a public school ever. Stockbridge didn’t know what nine wins felt like until last season.
College coaches are stopping by more often. Dutchtown athlete Donovahn Jones has over 20 scholarship offers. ELCA defensive end Isaac Rochell would’ve had more if he didn’t commit to Notre Dame already. Plenty are already keeping tabs on juniors Cortez McDowell (Locust Grove) and Andrew Williams (ELCA).
The state is dealing with county teams later and later in the season. Dutchtown and ELCA made the quarterfinals of the state tournament in 2010. Then ELCA took it a step further last season, coming within a touchdown of the state championship game.
“I’ll be honest,” Dutchtown coach Jason Galt said, “I think football has gotten a little better.”
“It’s continuing to get better,” said Union Grove coach Paul Burgdorf. “This starts my 10th year going in the county, and I’ve just seen it get better and better. I think it’s on the up-and-up.”
Could it be even better this season?
It might be more exciting thanks to the Georgia High School Association’s latest reclassification.
There’s Union Grove and Ola together in Region 4A-AAAAA, ELCA and Strong Rock Christian together in 5-A. Poor Henry County is all alone in 2-AAA. So is Luella, in 2-AAAAAA.
But 4A-AAAA became all Henry — Dutchtown, Eagle’s Landing, Locust Grove, Stockbridge and Woodland.
Coaches say it’s a chance for the true essence of Friday Night Lights to develop in the county — packed stadiums and rivalry games that mean something every week.
“I don’t think going into any week’s going to be easy,” Woodland coach Scott Schmitt said. “I think you’ve got to be ready to play each and every week. ... It’s going to be exciting to see how it plays out.”