Gridiron Preview 2020: Rabun County
The Wildcats have the nation’s top QB in the Class of 2022 back for his junior year, and head coach Jaybo Shaw fresh off taking the program to a sixth straight region championship, a third-ever undefeated regular season, and a fifth straight quarterfinal appearance.
Head Coach: Jaybo Shaw, 2nd season
2019 Record: 12-1; State Quarterfinals; Region Champions
Coach Shaw led an offense that scored over 44 points per contest, once again one of the tops in their classification. With Gunner Stockton back for his junior year, and emerging star running back Cory Keller likely to make huge strides, this offense could be even more potent.
“Our top two goals at Rabun County will always be: 1- win a state championship, 2 – win the region,” exclaims Shaw.
Recent decisions by the state of South Carolina led to heavy reconstruction of the Rabun County schedule, which had four games against SC opponents, and a game against Riverside Military that was nixed when RMA cancelled their fall season. The Cats were able to secure a game against Jefferson to make up one of those, but at the moment only have 6 confirmed games on the schedule.
AUG 28 (SCRIMMAGE) – vs St. Francis ^may or may not be played due to COVID concerns
SEP 4 – TBD *previously vs Daniel (SC)
SEP 11 – vs Prince Avenue Christian
SEP 18 – vs Jefferson *previously vs Greenwood (SC)
SEP 25 – @ Bremen *previously @ Walhalla (SC)
OCT 2 – vs Oconee County
OCT 8 (THUR) – vs Toombs County *previously @ Pickens (SC)
OCT 16 – @ Pope *previously BYE week
OCT 23 – BYE ***WAS RIVERSIDE GAME***
OCT 30 – vs Banks County*
NOV 6 – @ Elbert County*
NOV 13 – vs Union County*
NOV 20 – BYE
*8-AA region game ^schedule edited to reflect recent GHSA decision to delay season 2 weeks
Personnel & Schemes
Key Departures: Braxton Hicks, Sam Adams, Philip Roberson, Garrett Bragg, Trent Miller, Mason Sprinkle, AJ Wheeler
Key Returning Players: Gunner Stockton, Cory Keller, Brody Jarrard, Hoff Windham, Sutton Jones, Tate Ramey, Will McCraw, Hogan Woodard
A glut of playmakers reside at Rabun County. Yes, Braxton Hicks is a HUGE loss for the Cats, as is Sam Adams. The receiving corp though should be able to fill those gaps in aggregate with Stockton under center. On the defensive side, losing Sprinkle, Roberson, Bragg, and Wheeler are big hits, but there are always guys ready to step up so that the unit doesn’t miss a beat. We know for certain there are unnamed players on here that will be MAJOR to the success of the team.
Up & Coming Players: Cory Keller, Adriel Clark (previously RMA), Lang Windham, Jarret Giles, Ethan Owens, Cesar Cruz
Offense: Spread. No huddle. And good luck stopping it. 44 points per game last season came with the first-team on the field usually only three quarters. Stockton should rack up similar numbers despite one less regular season game (Riverside dropped football for fall 2020, leaving an extra off week in October). Keller exploded on the scene last year as a freshman, and should be leaps and bounds better this year too. Other backs will be featured, too. At receiver, senior Adriel Clark (Riverside) should fill a hole left by the departure of Hicks and Adams. Tate Ramey also should be counted on even more this season. So will newcomer Jarret Giles (freshman) and Sutton Jones (junior) among others.
Defense: Stifling 3-3 Stack. Swarming. Ball-hawks. One of the best defensive minds in high school football is Rob Stockton. His schemes are highly intelligent, and it’s no wonder Rabun County produces college-ready players. He’s got some tools to use, and will rely on the leadership of Jarrard, Windham, and McCraw, who all return to anchor the defense.
Strengths & Areas of Focus
Strengths: Leadership and experience. Also skill positions. That begins with Stockton and Keller. Sutton Jones, Ramey, and Woodard at the receiver position alongside newcomers TBA and TBA. Also, the coaching staff. Almost every coach on staff could easily be a head coach, or has been previously. Another strength is in the trenches, were the Cats bring back four of five starters on the O-Line, and two of three on the defensive front.
Focusing On: “Controlling what we can control,” says Shaw. “Continuing to get bigger, faster, and stronger. We are constantly evaluating ourselves to make sure that we are doing everything that we can to be successful.”