Just ask head coach Benji Harrison if the Raiders are satisfied with a 3-0 start for the first time in over 20 years, and he’ll tell you “there’s still room to improve.”
Habersham hasn’t had a start like this since 1990, despite incredible seasons during the “Tavarres King era” in the mid to late 2000’s. The Raiders cruised past East Hall in the Week 0 opener, 45-13, but found themselves having the scratch and claw their way to a win at White County and at home against Franklin County. There’s no doubt Harrison and his players are enjoying the moment.
“It doesn’t get much better than starting out 3-0,” says senior quarterback Cole Wilbanks. “Especially with what we’ve been through the last few years.”
Despite the great start, Harrison agrees with his quarterback, but stresses the need to not get complacent.
“There’s a buzz going on at school, [the 3-0 start] has sunk in, but we still have to improve,” says Harrison. “We’re still not where we need to be.”
Hab Central scored twice in the final three-plus minutes in Week 2 to earn the comeback win over the Warriors, while they had to hold strong defensively against Franklin in the final moments of Week 3 to earn the 21-14 win. The comeback win over White County required timely offense in a pinch, whereas the pressure was on the other side of the ball in the Franklin win. While fans across the community were happy with a win, regardless of how close, Harrison would like to not find themselves in that position often.
“It’s great to see them respond when adversity has hit,” says Harrison, “but I’m kind of getting a little tired of those [close games], they’re weighing on me pretty hard.”
Senior Raiders Cole Wilbanks and Jake Jones echo Harrison’s feelings.
“We have yet to play a game to the best of our abilities, and that’s what we’re waiting for.” states Jones. “It definitely makes a statement, but it shows that we can be a better team than we have been the past couple of weeks.”
Habersham had to get creative in its win over Franklin County as they were without star running back Michael Babers, who suffered an ankle injury but “should be good to go” Friday night against Stephens County, according to coach Harrison.
“He wanted to come back in, but we weren’t quite sure how effective he would be and decided to play it safe,” said Harrison, who said that junior Aaron Galloway did a good job having to come in and run the ball.
The Raiders’ biggest tests is yet to come, as they take on archrivals Stephens County in week 4 in Toccoa. Stephens owns the all-time series 27-11-1, including 11 straight over Habersham. The Raiders last won in 1996, before every roster player on either team was born. However, these guys know how big the rivalry is.
“It’s a big one!” exclaims Harrison. “It’s going to be a great atmosphere. Two great communities that support football. It has no bearing on the playoffs, but how would you not want to play in this game as a player? This is what high school football is all about!”