Newnan gets first look tonight at Griffin

by Doug Gorman

alt

Photo by Jeffrey Leo

Newnan football players will get a chance to hit someone in a different colored jersey tonight when the Cougars travel to Griffin for a preseason scrimmage starting at 7 p.m.

It won't count in either team's win-loss record, or on the stat sheet at the end of the year, but for the Newnan Cougars and the Griffin Bears, it's time to buckle up the chin straps and play some football.

The two teams meet tonight at 7 p.m. in Griffin, in a scrimmage that will be the first live action for the Cougars since ending the 2012 season with a 9-3 record and a 26-23 loss to Colquitt County in the second round of the Class AAAAA playoffs.

Heading into the scrimmage with the Bears, Newnan is ready to get the season started.

'It was a good summer, and our guys really worked hard,' Newnan head coach Mike McDonald said.

Tonight's scrimmage gives several key players a chance to shine for the Cougars after getting hit hard by graduation.

Gone from last year's team are a group that included safety and wide receiver Tray Matthews, who was a standout on both sides of the ball, running back Quinton Dix and receiver Traon Moss.

Matthews is expected to start in the secondary this season as a true freshman for the University of Georgia.

Quarterback Bailey Bryant returns for his junior year after starting all 12 games for the Cougars last season.

According to head coach Mike McDonald, Bailey's arm strength has continued to improve. The Cougars 6-4, 180-pounder attended several camps this summer. 'He's really getting better. He soaks it all in. He really wants to learn. He has gone to some camps this summer and is really a student of the game,' McDonald said.

Bailey enjoyed a solid first season as the Newnan starter, completing 92 of 141 passes for 1,440 yards, 14 touchdowns and four interceptions.

Although Bailey will have to find several new targets to pass the ball to this season, He will have junior J.K. Britt back in the lineup.

Britt, who is attracting Division I offers including one from Clemson is the team's top returning rusher with 516 yards and four touchdowns last year. He also added 20 receptions, two of which went for touchdowns.

On the defensive side of the ball, Newnan linebacker Tonarius Portress officially starts his senior year after leading the team in tackles with 101, including 67 solos.

Also on the defensive side, end Mark Harris will be back for his senior year after battling injuries early in the season.

Harris will be one of the leaders of this year's defensive unit after returning from his shoulder problems midway through the season and making 17 tackles.

Like Newnan, Griffin made the playoffs last year, finishing with a 9-2 record before falling 33-17 to Monroe Albany in the first round of the Class AAAA playoffs.

Newnan officially opens the 2013 season next Friday at home in Drake Stadium in a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.

The Cougars' opener is a week ahead of most teams in the GHSA.

Last season, Newnan started its campaign with a 38-29 win at Marietta.

The early start hasn't changed anything for McDonald's team.

'It rushes us a little bit,' he said. 'It does give us two open dates during the year.'

Newnan will have open dates Sept. 20 after the Troup game, and on Oct. 4 after Homecoming week against Hardaway.



More Sports

High School Track & Field

Long-distance standouts lead Northgate at region

In a tough 13-school alignment, Northgate track teams held their own at last week's Region 4-AAAAA meet at Starr's Mill, placing fourth amon ... Read More


High School Baseball

Lions, Hawks earn region wins; GHSA playoffs set

Trinity and The Heritage School might be GISA Region 1-AAA rivals, but Friday night they had something in common by routing region opponents ... Read More


Skinner lands lacrosse job at Truett-McConnell

Former Newnan High School lacrosse standout Rachel Skinner has been named head coach at Truett-McConnell in Cleveland. It's Skinner's first ... Read More


Oh do Kwan students excel at Atlanta Challenge

A total of 22 students from the Oh Do Kwan Martial Arts school in Newnan finished among the top-three finishers in either forms or sparring ... Read More


Middle School Track & Field Championships

Evans girls, Lee boys take leads into run finals

Evans’ girls and Lee’s boys will take slim leads into Wednesday’s running finals of the Coweta County Middle School Athlet ... Read More

Newnan High School teacher sworn in to state board

Newnan High School (NHS) teacher Chris Swanson was officially sworn in as a member of the 10-member board of Georgia’s Teacher Retirem ... Read More