The Georgia High School Association approved spring football games back in April, 2016, and after nearly a year, those spring games are drawing closer.
While some coaches around the state are excited to add a scrimmage against another team at the end of the 10-day spring practice schedule, some Bartow County coaches decided to pass.
Adairsville has scheduled its spring game for Friday, May 12, at 6 p.m at Armuchee. Woodland, meanwhile, is ironing out the details for a jamboree against Lithia Springs, Fayette County and Columbia.
Cass and Cartersville, though, decided not to have spring games this year.
Overall, the reactions to playing a spring game were mixed among Bartow coaches.
“I can see a difference in the kids in the weight room. They have something to work for right now and it puts a different sense of urgency on spring practice,” Woodland coach Tony Plott said. “There’s something you’re working for. I can see a difference in it already.”
The other coaches had lukewarm feelings over playing a spring game.
“First, we have a bunch of kids that play more than one sport. A lot of them play spring sports, whether it be track or baseball. I got kids on the golf team, so there’s a possibility that we may not have half our team out there. You don’t want to play a game in that situation,” Cartersville coach Joey King said of his decision not to have a spring game. “No. 2, when [the decision to allow a spring game was announced] last year, I was excited about it. I just worried about people focusing on scheme rather than the fundamentals. To me, that’s what spring ball is for. You work on the fundamentals and figuring out who can and who can’t and get an idea of your depth chart.”
All of the coaches noted that spring ball is used to focus more on the fundamentals rather than game preparation, which was a factor in favor of not having a spring game. Both Adairsville coach Eric Bishop and Cass’ Bobby Hughes were open to having spring games this year, but wanted to find the right opponent.
Bishop found that fit with Armuchee.
“The main reason we matched up with them is because [Armuchee head coach Muhammad Abdellatif] wanted to do some of the situational things that we wanted to do. That was the big thing,” Bishop said. “If I couldn’t get in some of those situations that we wanted to see, I really wasn’t sure I’d be fired up about playing in a game without being able to control some of the situations.”
Hughes considered playing a spring game, but ultimately decided against it.
“We wanted to line up one that was close enough and made more sense to us from a competition standpoint and a financial standpoint,” Hughes said of his decision to skip the spring game. “Breaking in a new quarterback and whatnot, I wanted to make sure we’re spending more time on fundamentals and not necessarily getting ready to play a game.”
Cass will start spring ball on April 29 and will play an intrasquad scrimmage on May 12. While there will be no game, the 10 days of spring practice will still be just as important to the Colonels, as is the offseason weight training and conditioning workouts.
“We have to win those close games that we were in last year. We’ve got to find a way to win them in the fourth quarter this year,” Hughes said after a 4-6 2016 season that saw his team lose three games by six points or less. “We feel like our conditioning and our work in the weight room can be one of those ingredients to push us over the hump.”
Cartersville will start spring ball April 25, while Woodland starts April 27. Until then, teams are focused on the weight room and conditioning.
“The weight room and the speed and agility stuff we’re doing, the kids are getting bigger,” Plott said. “There’s a lot of big gains in the weight room. That’s what we’re excited about now.”