With no school on Friday and facing the longest road trip of the season, the Heard County High School football coach is concerned about his team’s focus for the 7:30 region contest against Chattahoochee County on Friday night in Cusseta.
“Any time you take kids out of their normal routine, you get worried about their mental preparation and will they be ready to play when you get there? The biggest challenge is going to be that, by far,” Barron said.
The Braves’ trip down I-85 marks their lone road game sandwiched between seven home contests, as they play their next four games in the comforts of Staples Stadium following Friday night’s battle with the Panthers (2-2, 0-2 Region 5-AA).
Heard County (4-0, 2-0) has established itself as the team to beat early in the region season behind convincing victories over Bremen and Kendrick to kick off the 5-AA schedule.
And now that the Braves are getting into the mid-season groove of playing every Friday night after having a pair of open weeks early in the year, Barron said now is the time when you’ve got to start buckling down and focus on the task at hand.
“The first of the year it was so different because we played in the zero week. Then we were off and then we played a game and we were off again. So you had more time to prepare for the next ball game and you didn’t have to get so much in on one day. The grind’s about to start. There’s no doubt. You’re trying to get kids to stay focused and understand that each week we’ve got to find ways to get better,” Barron said.
The Braves have scored 40-plus points in every game this season, led by sophomore tailback Duranta Dunson. And Barron said although the Panthers have lost a pair of one-sided games in region play to Bremen and Bowdon, he believes they will present a challenge for his ball club come Friday night.
“We had an opportunity to go scout them against Bremen, and I don’t think that’s a true judgement of that team. I think the first time any kids play a team like Bremen, they don’t realize what they’re about to get into and how well they execute and how quick they hit it,” Barron said. “I think they’re much better than what they played against Bremen. I think they match up better to what we do than what they did against Bremen.
“This is a very athletic football team. They’ve got a tremendous amount of skill kids and they’ve got some guys that do a good job up front. So right now our whole staff is just kind of guarded against our kids not being mentally ready to play.”
The Braves will look to fight through the distractions — not to mention the Panthers — on Friday evening before a big showdown with Manchester (3-1, 2-0) on Oct. 12. But first things first, Barron and the Braves are zeroing in on Chattahoochee County, where Heard County can reach a 5-0 start for the first time since the 2006 season.
“Again, just trying to figure out the best routine we can put them in on Friday with not having school and getting ready for that long drive. Then at the end of it all, try to put together a good football game,” Barron said.