By Jonathan Deal
Spring football practice is often an overlooked part of the off-season. Ask any high school or college coach and they’ll tell you just how important it is.
At Athens High, the Golden Eagles recently wrapped up two weeks of practice with a scrimmage in Golden Eagles Stadium Friday. While AHS head coach Allen Creasy said he prefers to play another team in the spring season, an intra-squad scrimmage also has its advantages.
“It’s always better to play another team. The flip side of that is you have to prepare for that team and it takes away from working on fundamentals,” said Creasy. “(Not playing an opponent) doubles the amount of reps our guys get. It allows our guys to show what they can do.”
There are plenty of new faces on the Athens team that are eager to showcase their skills. The Golden Eagles lost seven starters from one of the best defenses in school history.
“The main issue right now is depth,” said Creasy. “We have a lot of guys that have to grow up in a hurry. But we are going to try and pick up right where we left off, both offensively and defensively.”
Still, there are plenty of players returning from last year’s team that reached the 5A quarterfinals.
“We have a good group coming back,” said Creasy. “There is a good nucleus of returning starters coming back that have picked up where they left off last season. We also have a talented group that has filled in for the guys we lost.”
On offense, AHS returns leading rusher Tariq Malone and will have its most talented receiving group in years. Defensively, AHS loses All-State safety Johnnie Anderson, but returns another safety, Paxton Schrimsher, who already has several college offers.
“Losing Johnnie (Anderson) is tough. You are going to miss his leadership,” said Creasy. “But having a safety returning in what we run on defense is going to help.”
Athens can begin fall practice Aug. 4. AHS opens the season at home against Lee-Huntsville Aug. 22.