White County Warriors Worthy of the Hype [VIDEO]
It’s been a long time coming for the White County Warriors. This football program has endured the grind and disappointment of playing up in Class 4A for so long. Since 2014, the Warriors have been in that classification. Even still, they managed to make the playoffs three times in that span (2014, 2017, 2018).
The Warriors have moved into the new-look Region 7-AAA, which has long been owned by GAC, Dawson County, and North Hall. Though Dawson won the region crown in 2015, GAC has won it four straight times. That ends now that Greater Atlanta Christian has moved out of the region. It now consists of local rivals Dawson, White, and Lumpkin, as well as North Hall, Cherokee Bluff, Gilmer, and West Hall. Dawson and North Hall are the headliners returning, and White County joins the front-runners, as the three programs will likely consist of the eventual region champs. The hype is real.
“There’s a lot of hype around our team, but I also think we’ve earned it,” says star quarterback J Ben Haynes. “We’re returning 17 starters, 19 seniors…the hype is real, but we enjoy it, it makes us want to play harder.”
Haynes put career numbers in 2019, throwing for 2,148 yards and 13 TD, while rushing for 981 and 17. To date, he has 5,307 passing yards and 37 TD, adding 1,319 rushing yards and another 20 scores. This is his year to shine, and he’s already been named a preseason All-State honorable mention by Recruit Georgia, and named by GHSF Daily as a top-ten QB in the state. He is fielding many offers, including Kentucky Wesleyan, Washington & Lee, Columbia, Reinhardt, and Cornell, among others.
“The proximity of our region games will make it exciting for our team and fans,” says coach Tim Cokely. “Each week will be a challenge and will matter in the standings.”
Haynes has plenty of weapons around him, including a stud receiver, fellow senior Cooper Turner, who pinpoints some specific games the Warriors are looking at.
“Dawson County, definitely” says Turner on the team circling certain games on the schedule. “First week in region, and we play them. We compare that to the region championship game. We think that’s the best two teams in it right there. North Hall, always…..”
Turner also had a career year as a junior, hauling in 60 catches for 901 yards and 6 TD. He had 17 catches for 284 yards and 2 TD the year prior. He has some smaller schools looking at him right now, and no doubt will get more attention as the season goes on. Riley Stancil and Zion McMullen will be featured in the run game, and many others will be playmakers for coach Cokely.
On the uniqueness of Haynes, Cokely doesn’t hold back about his senior.
“He is the first 4-year starter at QB I have ever had,” says Cokely. “We are certain that he will use that experience and knowledge to lead our team.”
The offense, which averaged over 28 points per contest last season, should flourish even more in 2020.
“If we can work together and be an unselfish unit, we will be a good team offensively,” states Cokely. “Most on that side of the ball are returning starters.”
The defense, a 3-3 stack set, has big names as well, like McMullen, Silas Mulligan, Jaquez Williams, Darius Cannon, and many others. It will be stingy and prove to be tough on 7-AAA’s top offenses. All this to say — the offense, defense, coaching, chemistry, experience, depth, and moving into 7-AAA — is well worth the hype.
The Warriors seek their first region title in school history, and a third playoff berth under Cokely in the last four years. The last time White County advanced past the first round was in 2013.
“At White County our emphasis is always to play for the championship and this year is no different with the exception of slightly higher expectations,” exclaims Cokely.
Digital Copy of Interview – J Ben Haynes & Cooper Turner
Digital Copy of Interview - J Ben Haynes & Cooper Turner