Editor's Note: Now that spring football practice has concluded, local football players are currently hard at work in the weight room and on the practice field preparing for the upcoming season. Each week during the summer, The Walton Tribune will take an in depth look at the state of each local football program heading into the 2021 season.
With an impressive 37-10 overall record in his four seasons at the helm of the Monroe Area High School football program, Kevin Reach continues to have the Canes on solid ground leading into the 2021 campaign.
Reach guided Monroe Area to an 8-3 overall record last fall and another trip to the state playoffs. The Canes were second in Region 8-AAA with a 4-1 mark falling only to Oconee County, which ended up advancing all the way to the state championship game.
Even with some key losses to graduation, Reach believes his team can be competitive in the region again for the upcoming season.
“We had good numbers during spring practice,” said Reach. “We saw some real good things from our players as well as some things we need to work on.”
Monroe Area went through spring drills during the first two weeks of May and opted not to compete in a scrimmage with another school.
“With only two weeks for spring, you really end up using that time preparing for an opponent,” Reach said. “We really didn’t need to spent the two weeks doing that.”
Reach is entering his fifth season with the Canes and so is the core group of assistants on his coaching staff including all of those who followed him from Collins Hill.
“The kids know what to expect,” Reach said. “Leading up to on-the-field spring practice, we have been working in the weight room and tested our players on where they were at. We are giving them a little time off before we come back for summer work and 7-on-7 play.”
In terms of the region for 2021, the Monroe Area coach said Oconee County will be the team to beat. Reach said Franklin County has a new coach and he expects Stephens County to be improved. Hart County is typically in the mix as well. East Jackson has struggled in recent years to gain its footing.
While some key players were lost to graduation, Reach said he expects his program to “reload” and to be a contender every season.
“We saw some good play from both our offensive and defensive lines this spring,” the coach said. “We return several players on the defensive front and our offensive line is as big as any since we’ve been here.”
The Georgia High School Association now has two “dead weeks.” In addition to the tradition one in early July, teams are also not allowed to practice during the first week of June.
Monroe Area will return to work Sunday and compete in a 7-on-7 camp that week at Athens Academy.
Reach does have two new additions to his coaching staff this season. Dennis Toney, a former assistant coach at Rome High School, will work with the Cane defensive backs in 2021. Wade Woodall, who was the offensive coordinator at Morgan County the past five seasons, will coach wide receivers for Monroe Area this fall.
The Canes will open the 2021 season against rival Loganville High School on Aug. 20 on the road. The Devils took a dramatic 21-20 overtime win last season.