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New class, new region new hope for Metter
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    The last two seasons in Metter have been all about building a foundation from the bottom up. In 2006, coach Clay 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.
    “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, the team looks to be competitive.
    “We have a bunch of experience on this team,” said Williams, “but we also have a bunch of young players that came up from middle school that are looking to help us out a lot, so it’s looking good for this year.”
    Metter runs a spread offense out of the shotgun, so the success of the team relies heavily on the skill positions. Williams has plenty of help returning to both the running back and wide receiver positions.
    Geoffrey Thurman took some snaps at quarterback in 2007. More of a runner when under center, Hill compares his use of Thurman to what the Arkansas Razorbacks did with Darren McFadden.
    Pete Nagel, a sophomore who sat out much of the 2007 season with a broken hand, is also expected to contribute as the quarterback position.
    “I’m not really a two- or three-quarterback system kind of coach,” said Hill. “Yet I like competition, I like kids bringing different things to the table and if we have an opportunity, we’ll get the ball to all three.”
    Right guard Tyler Nettles anchors an offensive line that has been worn out the past couple of years at the Class AA level. Nettles is looking forward to competing against a level playing field.
    “We’re looking forward to having a lot of success,” Nettles said. “It makes it a lot better for a lot of the smaller guys out here, because we don’t have as many numbers, and we don’t have as big of guys. It (will make) it easier in region play.”
    Nettles, like the rest of the Tiger offense, is ready to turn things around. They’re hungry to put points on the board.
    “I believe it all starts on offense,” said the guard. “Our speed drills, our strength training, our endurance training — everything we do we just go hard, 100-percent, just get after it.”
    Hill is pleased with the dedication he has seen from his team throughout the transition.
    “We’ve had a great offseason and we had a great summer,” said the Tiger coach. “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.”

    With all of the different offenses they will see in Region 3-A — from the smash mouth looks of Emanuel County and Claxton to the spread attacks of Jenkins County and Portal — Metter will base its defense on a 50 front and tweak it from week to week.
    Hill wants to keep it simple so his team will be able to react from week to week without thinking too much. He has used the same base in his defense since he started as a head coach at Crisp County 29 years ago.
    “You have a base that you run from, and you make adjustments within your base,” Hill said. “I don’t really believe in creating a defense for this week or a defense for that week. I think you create a base. You teach the defense, you teach them how to play it and then you teach adjustments off of it. Defense is a game of reaction. What you want to be in is something where the kids don’t have to think a lot. They feel confident and can react.”
    The Tigers gave up 40 points-per-game in 2007, but the move to Region 3B-A has the team excited. Metter feels it needs to pick up some momentum by grabbing that first “W”.
    “Number one, we’ve got to learn how to win,” Hill said. “I think we’re just a win or two away from just really getting excited. That’s what we need.”