Posted: Wednesday, July 25th 2012 at 3:37pm
Chestatee ready to take big step toward 2012 season
By Morgan Lee Editor
Chestatee head coach Stan Luttrell watches as the War Eagles compete in a 7-on-7 camp earlier this summer.
GAINESVILLE -- As of today, it’s officially high school football season.
The Georgia High School Association stipulates that July 25 is the first day that teams may hold mandatory practice sessions -- consisting of a week of conditioning before being allowed to don pads on Aug. 1.
For Chestatee football coach Stan Luttrell, it’s been a long time in coming. Not because his War Eagles have been dormant, in fact just the opposite, as Chestatee’s coaches and players are nearing the end of an exhaustive summer training season in which voluntary workouts and 7-on-7 camps have provided plenty of growth -- even for a team as seasoned as his.
“I’m excited to get it going,” said Luttrell, who will lead a team comprised of approximately 50 seniors and juniors combined in 2012. “We got a lot done in June and July and used that time the best we could.”
Now veteran varsity campaigners, War Eagle players too are filled with anticipation of the upcoming campaign.
“We’ve got really high expectations, especially from having all these seniors,” senior running back Quan Clark said. “The atmosphere has been good in practice, and everybody’s just ready to get the pads on and get going.”
That includes starting quarterback Jordan DeGraff, a senior that dominated early in his junior campaign before going down with a foot/ankle injury that kept him on the sidelines until late in the season.
“We’re built for this year,” DeGraff said. “We’ve got incredible depth in the backfield and the offensive line looks great. They’re the biggest we’ve had in a long time.”
Luttrell believes the War Eagles’ ability in the trenches could hold the key to the 2012 season.
“The strength of our team will be on the offensive and defensive lines,” Luttrell said. “We’re going to hang our hat on playing hard, fast and physical.”
Chestatee knows it must do so to be successful in a new region after learning it will move up from Class AAA to Region 8-AAAA -- a league that will feature powerful ground-first attacks and defenses geared to stop the run in opponents such as Eastside, Monroe Area, Stephens County and Lumpkin County.
With that in mind, the War Eagles have worked at increasing their depth in all positions -- something that hurt Chestatee in each of its last two seasons when injuries sidelined key players.
“Last year we reached a tipping point where we were plagued by the injury bug,” Luttrell said. “We were 3-0 before we lost a heartbreaker to Monroe and then I think we had a spate of games where we had four starters hurt every game.”
The War Eagles, who finished 4-6 in 2011, are working all players on both sides of the ball to try and avoid shortages at any one position. And with the experience already at Luttrell’s disposal, Chestatee hopes to make that added depth count.
“We’ve had a lot of senior leadership so far this summer,” DeGraff said. “And everybody is buying into what we’re doing. Everyone believes.”
That belief is confirmed in Chestatee’s stated goal of reaching the state playoffs for the first time since 2006.
“This my seventh year here, and all the seniors that are here were Junior War Eagles that won a league championship,” Luttrell said. “They’ve always been successful, and we’ve looked forward to having this group in this position for some time.
“Our goal is to be a playoff team, and I think we have what it takes to get there.”
“Everyone knows how good this senior class can be -- you hear it out in the community; everyone’s excited,” Clark said.
It helps that Chestatee will open the season against cross-county rival North Hall (Aug. 31 at Chestatee).
“That’s a good, old-fashioned community rivalry, and both (North Hall) coach (Bob) Christmas and I were adamant about keeping it going,” Luttrell said. “We’ve got a new field house that’s 10 years in the making... the attitude of the players is great... we’re just ready to get going.”
© Copyright 2013 AccessNorthGa.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.