On Friday night the Dawson County Tigers traveled to North Oconee to face their first on-field test in a scrimmage.
The team lost a close contest, 13-10 against the Titans, who were 5-6 last year in Region 8-AAAA.
"We played a whole bunch of guys. We led most of the game until the end when they scored on like a 70-yard touchdown run," said Tigers' Head Coach Sid Maxwell.
Coaches came away with insight that will serve the team well as they enter into practices for the next two and half weeks leading up to the home opener Aug. 26 against non-region opponent Forsyth Central.
"We are looking for our offensive line to be our greatest strength this year," said offensive coordinator Andy LeBlanc. "As an offense, we will go as far as our offensive line will take us. It's senior dominated and we'll look to them for leadership and consistency."
"Now we have teachable moments," Maxwell said. "That's probably the biggest thing a scrimmage does.
"They went ahead at the end. They still had their first unit in. We were subbing. I am just glad nobody got hurt."
Though the team finished the scrimmage without injury, three of the lineman had off the field injuries prior to the scrimmage, according to Maxwell.
Coey Watson, returning player of the year in Region 7 AAA, played about a quarter.
Maxwell gave junior Connor Bearden two quarters of play under center and he and LeBlanc were happy about what they saw.
"I thought Connor Bearden did a great job at quarterback Friday," LeBlanc said. "He commanded the offense very well and did a great job of staying poised and running the offense."
That fits with Maxwell's philosophy that you have to have the next guy ready to go.
"You have got your front line guys, but you better be preparing your number twos also," Maxwell said. "Hunter Mitchell was my third back that just came through."
Mitchell, who graduated last spring, didn't start until the third game last season and was able to rush for 1,300 yards.
"Hopefully this year we can prepare a little better for that...we found Hunter and he was just a good fit for it."
This season they are working with a stable of running backs including Payton Myers, Devan King, Taylor Cronan and Phillip Pinion.
For now, Maxwell is looking at the team as working its way through the phases of the season-pre-season, non-region, region and then hopefully, playoffs.
"We are in that little dead zone where you are trying to implement, put in, install," he said.
"Phase three for me is the start of the regular season. We have six games to try to get into phase four, which is the playoffs. That is ultimately where we try to land. I try to build everything we do to phase four," he said.
The Tigers will face Forsyth Central in the team's home opener at 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 26.