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• CLASS/REGION: GHSA Region 1-A
• 2013 RECORD: 2-8; missed playoffs
• COACH: Johnny Hayes (3rd season)
• RETURNING STARTERS: QB Tre Williams (So., 6-0, 165); RB/LB Nathan Beck (Sr., 6-1, 220); WB Matthew Deen (Jr., 5-10, 230); WR/DB Dorrell Edmonds (Sr., 5-9, 150); TE/P Donovan Hurst (Sr., 6-2, 230); RB/LB Garrison Dykes (Sr., 5-11, 185); C Zane Tedder (Sr., 5-11, 230); OL/LB BJ Classon (Sr., 5-10, 190); OL Zack Watkins (Sr., 5-10, 180); DL Tristen Goodman (Jr., 5-10, 185); OL/DL Keyain Mobley (Sr., 5-11, 190); DL Justin Youmes (So., 6-1, 300)
• 2014 SCHEDULE:
Aug. 22 — at Central, Talbotton
Aug. 29 — Pelham
Sept. 5 — Schley County
Sept. 12 — at Atkinson County
Sept. 26 — Miller County
Oct. 2 — Stewart County
Oct. 10 — Mitchell County
Oct. 17 — at Terrell County
Oct. 24 — Randolph-Clay
Nov. 7 — at Calhoun County
BACONTON — Since the school’s first varsity season in 2010, the Baconton Charter football bus has logged thousands of miles traveling to the far reaches of the state to find opponents due to the Blazers not playing a full Region 1-A schedule.
This year, the Blazers will barely leave Southwest Georgia.
Baconton Charter is playing a full region schedule for the first time, and Blazers coach Johnny Hayes said it will be a chance for his 11 seniors — the largest senior class in program history — to enjoy their final season in front of friends and family.
“We’ve traveled all over the state, from Alpharetta to Kennesaw to Glascock County,” Hayes said. “I just felt like with this big senior class, they deserved to play where their parents and fans don’t have to travel across the state to watch them.”
Hayes, who is entering his third year as head coach, understands the challenges his team will face as it makes the leap into tougher competition.
“We might take our lumps, but we are looking forward to the challenge,” he said. “One of the ways these (Class A) teams get into the playoffs now with the power rankings is by margin of victory. I told our kids that when we play those region games, they are going to be getting as many points as they can against us, and we don’t blame them. But it’s our job to stop them. We accept the challenge.”
The Blazers were 2-8 last season with wins against North Cobb Christian and Region 1-A opponent Stewart County and are 7-30 since playing their first varsity schedule in 2010.
All 11 of the Baconton seniors are returning starters, including offensive lineman and linebacker BJ Classon, a three-year starter who Hayes called the team’s leader.
“That’s the guy I am putting the saddle on,” Hayes said. “He’s done a good job all summer, and it’s his time to step up. And I think he will. He has all the characteristics a leader possesses. He encourages his teammates and basically sets the example by doing it the right way.”
The biggest void on Baconton’s roster is the absence of running back Narocis Lewis, who chose not to play this season. Lewis was the Blazers’ top rusher in 2013 and was nominated for the Herald’s Week 6 Player of the Week award after gaining 310 all-purpose yards and scoring four touchdowns against Stewart County.
Now he’s gone, and the Blazers will look to Nathan Beck, Matthew Deen and Garrison Dykes to share the rushing duties.
“We have three guys who we really feel good about and who can shoulder the load,” Hayes said. “All of them have carried the ball for us before and have done a good job with it. They might not have that breakaway speed, but they will run it tough.”
Trey Williams, who started at quarterback last season, will be handing the ball off to the trio.
“(Williams) runs the offense well and manages the game for us,” Hayes said. “We run the Wing-T, but he can throw the dickens out of it.”