The Leopards have twice fallen just short of making state, despite needing just one win in their last three games to clinch a spot.
2016 will turn the page, however, for Banks County. A team that is thirsty for making state and starving for consistency will pen a new chapter in their history. The Leopards have moved down into region 8-AA (where they resided prior to 2012) and have named Josh Shoemaker the new head coach, marking the fourth head coach since 2010.
The Leopards last made state under coach Phillip Jones in 2011 when the team went 7-4 overall. Jones’ next season, his last at Banks County, saw the team drop to 3-7. Biff Parson’s three-year stint at Banks featured some success as the Leopards went from 0-10 in 2013 to back-to-back 5-5 seasons in 2014-15. Shoemaker realizes that the problem for Banks was learning to close out the season in much the same way they started it the last two years.
“When I got the job and had the first staff meeting, that was the first issue I wanted to address,” says Shoemaker, “was how do we do better about closing.”
“The last two years, three games at the end of each season all we had to do was win one to get in, and in five of those six we were competitive we just couldn’t close the deal. The first meeting we had was how do we adjust our summer, our workouts, our preseason practice and even our approach to the season so we could be able to close better. I feel like we’ve done a great job of that so far.”
Certainly it will take a total team effort to replace guys like Trevae Cain and Zez Steeple, two key offensive pieces, but Shoemaker knows a lot of the pressure will fall on senior QB Griffin Goodwin.
“I’m looking for a big year out of him, and I believe he can do it,” says Shoemaker.
Banks opens with Jackson County at home on August 19 before traveling to Commerce the following week in a statement game.