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Metter ready to be better in 2008

           METTER — The days of record-setting quarterback Zach Stanford in the Georgia Dome are a distant memory in Metter, but the Tigers feel that after back-to-back winless seasons in Region 3-AA, it’s time to get back on track.

            It was only a handful of students that forced MHS over the Class A limit and into AA football in 2005, but that was short lived. When the cutoff was raised to 525 students, Metter High School was 50 under the line and overmatched by all of its competition. Now the Tigers are back in Region 3-A, and they feel like it’s time to get back into the playoffs.

            “You know, Metter’s traditionally won football games and I think the community’s hungry to do that again,” said third-year coach Clay Hill. “But they’ve been realistic in realizing what we’re trying to do with what we have here.”

            The last two seasons have been all about building a foundation from the bottom up. In 2006 Hill inherited a Tiger squad without much experience, and he has focused on developing the middle school kids and keeping the numbers up. Metter has consistently fielded over 50 kids in each of the last two seasons, and with a strong foundation both offensively and defensively, the coaching staff feels the team is ready to compete again.

            “I think we’re about ready to turn a corner, and I know that this will be a great place to be once we do,” Hill said. “I think we’ve got things in place — once we do turn that corner — to maintain it.”

            In 2008, Hill’s goal is simple. With the new playoff format in Region 3-A, Hill wants his Tigers to be in a position to compete for a playoff berth.

            The way the current system is set up, there are nine regular-season games with the tenth featuring the region’s top eight teams (four from Division A and four from Division B) who will each be seeded and play for a spot in the state playoffs.

            Hill wants to make sure MHS is one of those eight teams.

            Each game on Metter’s schedule is against other schools from the region, and while standings are based solely on the record against the other 3B-A schools, every game will impact the seeding after week nine.

            “We’re going to play to win every game, obviously,” Hill said. “But what (the play-in game) does is it places more emphasis on your first three games which, with us subdivided, are not counted toward the standing of the sub-region. In the event of a tie, it counts toward the tiebreaker. Our goal right now to hopefully get in to week 10 with a chance to be one of the teams that still has a chance to get a playoff spot.”

            The Tigers return a good bit of experience to the field this season. Three-year starting quarterback Blake Williams returns to run the spread-style offense, and with a solid group of seniors returning to the skill positions both offensively and defensively, the team looks to be competitive.

            Staying motivated through the past two seasons have been tough, but the Tigers have kept a positive attitude. The team will see if the hard work has paid off when the season kicks off against Portal on August 29.

            “We’ve had a great offseason and we had a great summer,” said Hill. “We’ve just got to win. We’ve got to learn how to win. I think we’re doing the things that we need to do, but we’ve got to get it to the field and get results on the scoreboard. We’ve got to win the games we need to win to be in contention in Week 10.”

            Metter will have a scrimmage at Bryan County on August 22 at 7:30 p.m. before the season opener the following Friday.

 

            Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9404.

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