The Madison County football team hopes preseason practice goes as swimmingly as a recent out-of-town trip did.
The Raiders, who started practice Monday, enjoyed a successful stint at West Georgia camp last week, with sixth-year coach Randell Owens calling the trip “excellent.”
For what it’s worth, the Raiders went 9-1 in seven-on-seven, non-tackling, passing scrimmages at West Georgia. The victories included one over state power Buford, which hasn’t lost a real football game since 2006.
Owens said Madison County beat the Class AA champs “by a few scores.”
“We handled them fairly well, and you could tell they didn’t appreciate it,” Owens said. “You could tell they had an attitude like this ain’t supposed to be happening.”
For the second week in a row, the coach praised the improved chemistry of this year’s team and how it seemed to build at camp.
“We didn’t have to do any counseling or anything,” Owens said of the trip.
All those good vibes seemed to transfer to the first day of preseason practice Monday when Madison County took to the field in helmets and shorts.
“Overall, the kids were excited to be out there,” Owens said.
Madison County, which moves to full-pad practices permanently on Monday, has three weeks to prepare for Rockdale County. The Bulldogs beat Madison County 25-14 last year in Conyers.
The big preseason questions lie along the lines of scrimmage, Owens said.
Madison County has moved two of its best defensive linemen, Jeremiah NeSmith (101.5 tackles last year) and Tyler Adams, to platoon at middle linebacker to fill the void of graduated linebacker Cody Esco (136 tackles last year). NeSmith and Adams will also double as offensive linemen.
So having new starters step up at those defensive line spots and finding reliable backups are a must, Owens said.
The offensive front is another worry, especially after Madison County averaged just 108.4 yards rushing a game in 2008. Owens said the Raiders must improve their ground attack, starting in the trenches.
“We’ve got to significantly improve our running game,” Owens said.
Elsewhere, Madison County must also replace Al Allen, the team’s leading receiver last year with 605 yards.