Raider coach Randell Owens knows Rockdale County coach Michael Etheridge is partial to a Wing-T offense and a 3-5-3 defense.
At least that’s what he’s expecting to see when Etheridge’s Bulldogs break the huddle Aug. 28 in Danielsville in the first game.
“But will they do that?” Owens asked rhetorically. “Is this going to be the year he changes something?”
Such is the mystery of preparing for the season opener: More time to practice, less known about your opponent.
“There’s pros and cons either way,” Owens said.
Madison County has just over two weeks left to prepare for the Bulldogs, who beat the Raiders 25-14 last year.
While Owens has been studying Rockdale County film, it’s footage from last year, so it’s outdated.
That makes it a bit harder to assess this year’s Rockdale County team.
“You’ve got all that time (to prepare), but you don’t have much in the way of reconnaissance and scouting information,” Owens said.
Of course, during the preseason, a coach is devoting as much time to assessing his own squad as he is preparing for opponent no. 1. Madison County nears the end of its second week of practice, and Owens said it will be hard to gauge his team’s progress until it lines up against someone else.
“Are they giving you all-out effort like they do against an opponent, someone they don’t like?” Owens asked.
“You don’t tend to hit your friends when you’re sparing as hard as you do your opponent.”
Owens says he’ll find out Aug. 21 when Madison County scrimmages Franklin County in Danielsville.
“Truly, it will be Franklin County before we really see what they’re about,” Owens said.
That will also be the first time Owens unveils the team publicly, since he opted to forgo the annual Red and Gray preseason scrimmage.
Until then, Owens and his staff will continue to prepare for what they think they’ll face in the Aug. 28 opener.
“The first game is tough, a lot of unknowns,” Owens said.