The Phoenix are entering new region (5-AAA) and will be featuring a new spread offensive attack unlike last year’s more traditional offense.
Sonoraville’s first-week opponent, Pickens County, are experiencing several new things as well as they are under the direction of first-year coach Chris Parker and will likely feature a completely new system.
Sonoraville coach Roger Gentry said based on the excitement in both programs, the game should be surrounded with a great environment.
“The support we got from our fans at our scrimmage was unbelievable, but it’s nothing like what it will be when it really counts,” said Gentry. “And I know they will bring a great crowd, so it should be an outstanding atmosphere. We’re ready to roll.”
Gentry and the Phoenix faced Armuchee in the scrimmage two Friday’s ago, coming away with a lot of positives from a 21-17 win.
The new spread offense looked to be explosive, with quarterback Tyler Harris throwing for 255 yards on 16-of-24 passing and three TDs. Chris Baker, Matt Edgar and Clark Johnson all had receiving TDs, and running back Jackson Murray had a long run to set up one of those scores. On defense, Clay Grisham had two interceptions.
Since then, Gentry said he has used practice to do some routine work to sharpen his players skills.
“We just went back to basics,” said Gentry. “We tried to get a lot of reps and pick up the tempo, especially on offense. The kids responded well to it, and they’re excited to get back on the field.
“As a staff, we evaluated all the players too and moved some kids around to get them in the right positions.”
Gentry said he is expecting Pickens County to be a very different team than the Pickens County teams of the past few years. He said they have also shifted to a spread offense, but can still go back to a more traditional Wing T at times.
“We know they’re going to be a different team than in the past,” said Gentry. “They’re coached hard, and we expect a dogfight. It should be a good matchup based on what both of us do.”
The Phoenix will look to get off to a good start much like they did last season with a 3-1 record in their first four games, before finishing 4-6.
Gentry said his team knows that they must play a crisp game in order to get their first win of the year.
“We know what our keys are,” said Gentry. “We’ve got to be consistent every play, not fumble, catch the ball and play good special teams to put our defense in the best situations. We also need to be faster on offense, and we should have a solid night.”
Being around some of the Phoenix practices and in my discussions with some of the coaches and people around the program, there seems to be a new energy in the Phoenix Nation.
Gentry stresses almost more than any other coach the team concept, and that seems to be paying off with a really unified bunch of players. Now, will that translate into a lot of wins this season. That remains to be seen. The new spread offense looks like it fits Sonoraville’s personnel better, and the defense has some playmakers.
The Phoenix should open the season on a high note.
Sonoraville 31, Pickens County 13.