The Warriors host Coosa on Friday night at Ratner Stadium in the regular-season opener for both teams. Gordon Central has played the Eagles each of the last two seasons in Region crossover games early in the year, getting the best of both.
“Coosa is a good team, and we know that,” said Gordon Central coach Chad Fisher. “They had some unfortunate things happen to them last season that didn’t allow them to have the season they were hoping for, but coach (Chad) Perry always has they ready to play.
“I know they’re excited to play us, and we’re excited to open up with them at home. This will be a good measure of where we’re at as a team.”
The game should be exciting if the last two contests between the teams have been any indication. Gordon Central won last year’s thriller by a 34-33 score after winning at Coosa the season before, 34-19.
The Eagles, who remained in Region 7-AA after last December’s GHSA reclassification, graduated over 20 seniors from last year’s squad, but got a big addition over the summer when running back Janier Ferguson transferred in from Pepperell.
Ferguson was last season’s Rome News-Tribune Co-Player of the Year for the Dragons.
Gordon Central returns a large core from last year’s playoff team, including quarterback MJ Reynolds, receiver/DB Tyshaun Clemmons and defensive end/tight end DJ Prather, who all looked impressive in their preseason scrimmage win at Cass.
Reynolds threw for 222 yards on 14-of-19 passing and three TDs in only two quarters of play against the Colonels.
Prather, Clemmons and Chandler Curtis all had receiving TDs. Curtis was the leading receiver with 104 yards on four catches.
The defense also shut out Cass in varsity play.
Fisher said the Warriors went right back to work in the week after the scrimmage to fix some things.
“The biggest thing we tried to get our guys to understand in the practices since the scrimmage was to eliminate the dumb penalties that we had against Cass,” said Fisher.
“We’ve also tried to fine tune our passing and running game, and have gone back to the fundamentals on defense such as form tackling.”
Fisher said his team has also spent a large portion of practice on preparing for the Eagles. He said Coosa is based out of the Wing-T on offense and have several good backs, a good receiver a several kids who got some experience last season.
He said there would be a few keys for his team to be successful in front of the home crowd against the Eagles.
“We’re going to have to gang tackle to make sure they don’t break long plays after contact,” said Fisher. “And we’ve got to play smart. We can’t have turnovers and penalties against them.”
The Warriors have plenty of firepower on offense at the skill positions and have some studs on defense, especially along the defensive line.
The two areas of concern are the linebackers and offensive line, which will almost be an entirely new cast than there was last season.
At some point this season, these two unproven units will be tested, but not this Friday.
The addition of Ferguson makes Coosa better, but the Warriors are simply more talented from top to bottom.
G. Central 28, Coosa 14.