By David Johnson
SOCIAL CIRCLE, Ga. — Some of Tate Peters fondest memories are of watching Monroe Area football games during the Hurricanes’ epic four-year run under head coach Matt Fligg.
His cousin was a cheerleader for Monroe, and he was a regular attendee on fall Friday nights.
“I was just a little kid back then, but I remember going to the games and seeing coach Fligg down there on the sideline coaching,” Peters said. “Now he’s my coach. It’s kind of cool.”
Fligg has since moved on to Social Circle where he’s the team’s offensive coordinator. Meanwhile, Peters is no longer a little kid. He’s now 6-foot-2, 215 pounds and is set to be the Redskins’ starting quarterback when the 2018 season kicks off for Social Circle on August 24 at Stone Mountain.
Stephon Tuitt was the Hurricanes player Peters remembers best. Best known for his shiftiness and blazing speed, Tuitt was a dual-threat quarterback and the engine that ran the team’s high-powered offensive attack.
Like Tuitt, Peters can produce with both his arm and legs. But his style will be considerably different. He’s much more likely to bull his way between the tackles than try and outrun a defender to the edge.
“He’s got deceptive speed,” said Social Circle head coach Chad Estes. “But he’s a big, strong kid who runs really hard.”
As for his passing, Peters has the arm strength. Whether he has the accuracy remains to be seen.
“It’s really all about timing,” Peters said. “I’ve been working a lot with the receivers and put in some extra work with coach Fligg after practice.”
Offensively, for most of his career, he’s been on the receiving end of passes. As a junior, he led the team last year in receptions with 29 catches for 338 yards and a touchdown, placing him fifth in Walton County in that category.
Meanwhile, becoming the full time quarterback will force him to cut back on one of his favorite parts of the game. He’ll see only spot duty on defense, where he was among the team’s leading tacklers last fall and was second in the county in interceptions with four.
“I like contact and I like to tackle,” Peters said. “But most of the time I’m with the defense coach Fligg is talking to me about offense.”
It’s a tradeoff Estes feels is necessary.
“I don’t like my quarterback having to play defense,” Estes said. “He’ll play some, but for now he’s our quarterback.”
Playing signal caller isn’t completely new for Peters Last fall, he was the team’s backup, where he filled in occasionally for Jackson Will, who passed for 936 yards and rushed for 493. While Peters may not match his predecessor’s numbers through the air, he could possibly far surpass his rushing stats.
Last year, the Social Circle Redskins finished with a 2-5 record in Region 8-AA, which placed them sixth in the standings at the end of the year.
Before the year kicks off, lets take a look at each team in the region, and some players to watch:
Last year, the Rabun County Wildcats ran away with the region, finishing 6-0 in region play. This helped propel them into the state championship game, in which they came up just short, losing 35-23 to Hapeville Charter.
Defensive end Jackson Webb is a player to watch for the Wildcats. He enters his senior season poised for another dominant year on the line after a solid junior campaign.
The Blue Devils posted a 5-1 region mark, good for second in 2017. They lost to Class AA state champ Hapeville Charter in the second round of the playoffs, 56-10.
Watch for junior athlete D. J. Ardister. The 6-foot-1, 210-pounder took snaps at quarterback, running back and safety and excelled.
Though they finished sub-five-hundred overall, in region play, the Banks County Leopards finished with a 4-2 record in region play. They fell 57-0 in the first round of the playoffs against Pepperell.
The Leopards return probably the best player in the region in running back Terrance Walker. The 6-foot-4, 195-pound running back torched Social Circle last year for four touchdowns and over 200 yards in one game.
The War Eagles missed the postseason, but return several talented players.
Senior linebacker Jacobee Lane is the War Eagle’s most dynamic returning player. The solid 6-foot, 210-pound linebacker has a knack for big hits on the perimeter and solid tackling inside.
The Redskins’ rival Monticello Hurricanes finished with a 2-4 record in region play. Despite finishing 5th, they were able to nudge Putnam County out of the playoff picture, but fell to Rockmart in round one.
Senior QB Jaymerious Fleetwood will be entering his senior year, giving the Hurricanes experience at the helm. Living up to his last name, Fleetwood is an undersized, yet speedy runner who can surprise you with his arm.
After finish 0-6 in region play last year, not too many bright spots exist for the Patriots, but junior quarterback Chase Helwig showed flashes of his potential in the sparing minutes he played. He should head into his senior year as the starter and capitalize on more playing time.