(Franklin, GA) — The defending GHSA Class AA Champion Heard County Braves football team will return to the gridiron at HCHS this Friday night as they open the 2019 regular with a non-region tilt versus the Class AAAA Lagrange Grangers.
Fans are encouraged to arrive at Staples Stadium early for Hall of Fame night where 11 new members will be introduced before the game. pregame festivities will additionally include the annual dedication of the program.
The 2019 Hall of Fame Class of Inductees includes John Parramore and Walter Wilson (Community), John Mark Arp (1990’s – Baseball), Sammy Burden (1980’s – Athlete), Orlando Burgos (2010’s – Cross Country/Track), Helene Cook (1980’s – Basketball), Jasmine Cook (2010’s – Athlete), Britt Dodds (2000’s – Football), Darvel Nelson (2000’s – Football), Sharolette Rogers (1990’s – Basketball), and T.J. Watkins (2000’s – Football).
Brave head man Tim Barron enters his 18th season with the Braves when they open the regular season versus Lagrange this Friday (Photo: Jeff Napier)
Coach Tim Barron and staff will face some new challenges this year following the graduation of the stellar Class of 2019 seniors that helped take the team to its greatest heights in program history.
The team only returns four starters on offense and five starters on defense, so last Friday’s scrimmage at Alexander was important to get some reps for the many inexperienced players who saw little varsity action last year.
The Braves fell to the Cougars 38-20 with varsity seeing action the first three quarters and the JV taking the reigns for the fourth quarter.
Tray Owens, Alex Boyd, and Isaiah O’Neal each found the end zone for the Braves.
Barron, who is entering his 18th season at Heard County, says he wasn’t surprised by anything that happened during the scrimmage as the Braves look to rebuild and replace starters in almost every facet of the game.
“It wasn’t anything I didn’t expect. I know we’ve got to play faster. I don’t think we were very physical it felt soft and it felt like we were playing slow,” said Barron after the scrimmage.
“There were tons of mistakes and Alexander is so well coached they will make you pay for it. That’s why we like to scrimmage them it helps us a lot more than if we schedule a lesser opponent. Our two staffs communicate well after the game which helps both of our teams out.”
The soaring temperatures during the preseason made it tough to get work in due to strong GHSA safety rules regarding the heat.
“You try to make the most of it and get some good work in a short period of time,” says Coach Tim Barron. “You’ve got to be awfully creative when it’s this hot to get something out of a day. We haven’t been in full pads for several days during the preseason just because of the heat policy, but it’s been a good, productive time considering the circumstances.”
One time the heat wasn’t a factor was during the Braves intrasquad scrimmage during Midnight Madness on Saturday morning, August 10.
Coach Barron expressed says it is difficult measuring where you are as a team during intrasquad games due to having to split the team equally, but what he did look for was effort and physicality.
“The biggest thing you can find out in a scrimmage like that is who’s going to be physical, who’s playing with great effort,” Barron says.
The Brave Nation will find a very fan-friendly schedule in 2019 that features six home games and very short travel to each of the four away games.
Following Friday night’s opener and a bye the Braves will next host arch Class AA rival Hapeville Charter at Staples on September 6. The Hornets are loaded with D-1 talent and will present a huge challenge for the rebuilding Braves.
The schedule will not get much easier the following week as the home town team hosts Rockmart, the revenge-minded losers of the 2018 State title game. it will mark the third meeting between the squads but first at Staples.
The Braves final non-region game and first road trip will be up the road to Central of Carrollton on September 20. The truly meaningful games will begin the following week when the Braves travel to Spencer for a Thursday night clash in the first Region 5-AA contest of the season.
After another bye week, the Braves will host Temple on October 11 and Jordan on October 18 for the 2019 Homecoming game.
October 25 will be the night where fans will really want to mark their calendars as the Braves travel to Lagrange to battle their No. 1 rivals, the Callaway Cavaliers in the annual ‘Pulpwood Classic.’
Future Auburn Tiger running back Tank Bigsby and the Cavaliers are considered on of the top contenders for the state title and will also have revenge on their minds after the Braves snatched victory from the jaws of defeat in Franklin last year with a 13-10 come-from-behind win in the closing seconds of one of the most memorable finishes in the history of both programs.
Closing out the Region 5-AA slate will be a trip to Lamar County on November 1 followed by the regular season finale at home on November 8 versus Bremen in a game that will likely be very important in the Region 5-AA playoff picture.
Ticket prices for the 2019 season will once again be $8 at the gate with $6 presale tickets available at the schools during the week.