MCDONOUGH — The 2018 high school football season unofficially kicked off Wednesday afternoon with Media Day for Henry County Public Schools.

Head coaches for all 10 county public school programs were in attendance, each of whom was joined by select players expected to make an impact in 2018.

The event was put together by Henry County Director of Athletics Dr. Curt Miller, who invited a longtime friend to speak to those in attendance — Georgia State Senator Burt Jones.

Jones, who played football at the University of Georgia under Mark Richt and won an SEC title in 2002, addressed the crowd. He spoke about his time at UGA, and what he learned while playing alongside current head coach Kirby Smart. He told the crowd that high school football has been the foundation for his entire career, and that lessons learned on the gridiron will apply to all aspects of life.

After Jones concluded his speech, each head coach spoke to the crowd, beginning with Bryan Love and the Woodland Wolfpack. Love, much like fellow second-year head coaches Chad Frazier (Union Grove) and Jason Jackson (Luella), feels a sense of optimism now that year one is in the rear-view mirror.

In Jackson’s case, he feels that his program is “a million miles” ahead of where it was last season. Frazier echoed Jackson’s sentiments, saying that 80 to 90 kids are coming out for football this season.

Another second-year coach, Dutchtown’s Clifford Fedd, expressed his desire for the season to begin. The Bulldogs were eliminated in the first round of the state playoffs in controversial fashion, a finish that has been used as motivation throughout the offseason.

The county’s longest tenured coaches — Stockbridge’s Kevin Whitley and Locust Grove’s Clint Satterfield — spoke about the camaraderie between each program in the area. According to Satterfield, he has never had more talented players, coaches or teams in his 20 years in the county.

Whitley’s Stockbridge Tigers have become one of the top programs in the state. To a man, each of his players said they are “tired of being close” after so many near misses in the state playoffs over the last five years.

Eagle’s Landing High head coach Shawn Jones also spoke about the importance of county pride. He said he wants every team in the county to do well this season in order to continue to bring state-wide attention to the players, coaches and schools in the area.

Henry County High is entering its final year of existence before McDonough High opens next school year. Head coach Morris Starr has used that fact as a rallying cry for the 2018 season — the Warhawks are hoping to close out the longtime school with a bang.

Hampton will play in its third region in five seasons, a challenge head coach Chad Ashley said he and his players are ready to tackle. At Ola, head coach Chad Ashley must replace six Division I players in 2018, but said he is thrilled with the progression and the hunger of his young squad.

The season will begin in earnest with Week 1 on Aug. 17, but programs will compete in scrimmage games as early as Aug. 3 over the coming weeks.

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