The 2017 football season inches closer in the horizon, as we are about two months away from kicking off.
Expectations are high for all of the local teams – Habersham, Rabun, Stephens, Dawson, Banks, Commerce, Lumpkin, White, Union, Towns and Rabun Gap. For many of these programs, they feature talented senior QBs who are poised for even bigger seasons than they had last year.
Deem this season as the Year of the QB. Division-I prospects like Rabun senior Bailey Fisher and Union senior Cole Wright lead the way, along with talented next-level quarterbacks Coey Watson (Dawson), AJ Curry (Habersham Central) and Jackson Bell (Stephens). This is an impressive list, and all are dual-threat quarterbacks that can beat you with the arm or the legs. Add in White County senior Kaleb Crane, and this year could be unprecedented.
We’ll get a great look at Curry, as he comes to Habersham from Stephens County, where he was primarily a receiver (20 rec, 271 yds, 2 TD). Bell threw for 1,056 yds last season with 10 TD (completing 83-of-152 passes; 55%). He also rushed for 455 yds and 5 scores (4.4 yds/carry).
Watson has been a mainstay for Dawson, taking the Tigers to the state quarterfinals in 2015 and back to state in 2016. Last season, Watson collected 1,494 passing yds and 14 TD (98/169 passing; 58%). He rushed for 607 yds and 14 TD (5.1 ypc) as one of the top dual threats in the Northeast Georgia area.
Wright surprised everyone by blossoming so quickly as a QB at Union, taking over for one of the state’s all-time passing leaders in Joseph Mancuso (Class of 2015). Wright posted 1,653 passing yds, throwing 14 TD (130/200; 65%). He was dominant in the run-game with 1,370 yds and 19 TD, finishing with better rushing numbers than almost every running back in the area as well (11.7 ypc).
No local QB is as hyped, however, as Fisher for Rabun. After getting a good chunk of playing time as a freshman in 2014, he became the full-time starter from 2015 on to now. He’s coming off a junior year in which he was named 2A All-State for a second year in a row after putting up video-game numbers (2,671 pass yds, 29 TD; 1,001 rush yds, 21 TD). Fisher accounted for 50 total TD in taking the Wildcats to the State Quarterfinals for the second straight season. Fisher also tallied 2,936 passing yards (38 TD) as a sophomore, adding 573 rushing yards (8 TD) in 2015.
With Banks County losing four-year starter Griffin Goodwin (1,814 yds, 18 TD (105/212; 50%); 34 rush yds, 2 TD), Habersham losing Cole Wilbanks (1,907 yds, 18 TD (158/283; 56%); 67 rush yds, 3 TD), Commerce losing Lane Sorrow (617 rush yds, 12 TD; 596 pass yds, 6 TD) and Towns County losing Russell Cox, those teams are forced to start anew at the QB position. Aside from Curry for Habersham, not much is known about the other programs in terms of who will fill that role, including Lumpkin County, a run-heavy team.
Barring injuries, we can expect monster years from Bailey Fisher, Cole Wright, Coey Watson, Jackson Bell, AJ Curry and Kaleb Crane. The remaining programs will have the potential to have someone new come on the scene and wow us, such as Wright did a year ago for Union.