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FOOTBALL PREVIEW: Redskins look to maintain playoff identity
SCHS Preview
Social Circle’s defense will be missing key contributors from last year’s team. However, the coaching staff believes that it has identified players who are able to step up and fill spots. - photo by Covington News/File Photo

Social Circle football has begun to show prominence in their division by making the playoffs each of the past two seasons. That followed a decade of missing the postseason with 2009 being the Redskins’ last playoff appearance prior.

 They also finished with their best regular season record — and first-winning season — since 2006 with a record of 6-5. 

The Redskins will look to continue this upward trend in the 2022 season. Going into the new season, Social Circle head coach Rob Patton’s message to the team is the same as it was for his first two seasons: focus and get better at their individual positions. 

“We start off with speed and agility, we gotta focus in here and get better at running,” Patton said. “Every single rep in the weight room, focus on getting stronger, whatever the lift is. On the field, focus on blocking, catching, ball security and things like that. When we go into group and team periods, focus more on execution and the fundamentals from any period.

“So, just really trying to get them to focus on getting better at whatever their skill set is for their position.”

According to Patton, this training mindset has paid dividends for the team’s progress, particularly in the weight room.

“The biggest difference for us is our kids are so much stronger,” Patton said. “We’ve been a little hesitant for contact the past two years, but I think we got a lot more confidence now, because the kids are so much stronger than they were.”

The Redskins are returning 10 starters on offense, including senior quarterback Logan Cross. Cross finished his 2021 campaign with 2,213 passing yards and 24 touchdowns. 

 “[The strength in our offensive attack] starts with our quarterback,” Patton said. “We’re blessed with a guy who led our county and our region in passing the past few years. He’s got a strong arm and can make throws; a lot of teams don’t have a kid who can do that.”

Patton cites Cross’ “calm demeanor” as the quality that makes him best suited to lead the troops for the Redskins. 

“If he throws a bad pass or a touchdown pass, you can’t tell a difference in the way he reacts,” Patton said. “For high school kids, that’s a hard thing to find. He’s someone who doesn’t ride the highs and lows. He’s always got that steady calm presence about him.”

Patton also references the offensive line’s improvement as a strength for the Redskins. Seniors Matt Riley, AJ Vinson and Bryan Ross will lead the offensive line this season. 

“Seeing some of those guys that have been starting for two years, they’re really starting to come on in their senior year,” Patton said. 

Senior receivers Mason Moore, DaShon Hyman and Grayson Jenkins will start as the top options for Cross. Meanwhile, juniors Kam Durden and DeMascio Bolden will share the load in the backfield. 

The Redskins are also returning experienced players for their defense as well, including Moore and senior Phillip Baynes, both safeties who will serve as leaders for the Redskins defense. 

Social Circle’s region features Jasper County, Oglethorpe County and Prince Avenue Christian, which is coming off two consecutive state championship appearances and a state championship victory two years ago. 

“This year, we’re trying to get the top seed in the region and get a home playoff game,” Patton said when asked about his team’s goals for the season. 

Patton said that he’s getting his guys prepared for the season, and, in doing so, they’re excited for the first game. However, in order for them to reach that top seed, he believes that they will need to maintain that motivation throughout the season. 

“The big thing that I note is we focus on trying to get better every day,” Patton said. “The thing with us and having a four-team region, we’ve got seven games before region games start. Those first seven weeks, we just want to make sure we’re improving in all phases of the game. We’re ready to peak at the right time, during region and playoff time.”

Social Circle’s season kicks off on the road at Morgan County in a non-region matchup Aug. 19 at 7:30 p.m.