BY SCOTT POWER
Woodland is hoping to silence the cannons this week.
Woodland will travel to Dallas on Aug. 19 to take on the East Paulding Raiders in a game featuring two rebuilding programs. The Raiders went 2-8 last year and made some changes.
“They have a new head coach and a new staff,” Woodland High Head Coach Brandon Haywood said. “I know they will bring their best. It will be loud and a good atmosphere. It’s their first home game of the season. They like to score a lot and shoot the cannon a lot. It’s going to be a challenge.”
The Raiders, a 6A team, run a spread offense and are a 3-3-stack defense.
Haywood said East Paulding puts a lot on their quarterback with a lot of RPO plays, but that he seems to make the quick decisions needed to run an offense like that.
“Their quarterback [Baylor Thomason] is definitely someone to watch for,” Haywood said. “Their running back [Javen Parker] is probably the best athlete on the team. On defense, everything flows to the middle line backer [Josiah Marsh] and their free safety Brian Allen is pretty active.”
Though East Paulding was 2-8 last year they gave state power Kennesaw Mountain a fairly tough game last season, losing 28-12.
“They are a well-coached team,” Haywood said. ‘“They have talent. They have size. Their quarterback manages the game well. They have running back that get downhill. They have three receivers over 6 feet and their defense swarms to the football.”
Haywood said while he is never satisfied, he likes where his team is right now.
While East Paulding changed coaches, so did Woodland, bringing in Haywood after a 1-9 season last year. Picking up a new offense with a new coach isn’t always easy, but Haywood said his team is doing a good job. He is installing a wing-t type offense out of the shotgun.
“I like the direction in which we are moving,” Haywood said. “Offensively, we don’t run a complex offense,” Haywood said. “We don’t run a ton of different plays, we run a lot of looks. Our job is to simplify the offense so that they can run it fast.”
While he has seen progress, Haywood said turnovers are in issue the Wildcats have to address.
“I have to told my team that the only team that can beat Woodland is Woodland,” Haywood said. “Against Lassiter we were twice in the ed zone and we had self-inflicted wounds that took us out of a scoring opportunity. We are not good enough to make mistakes. We have to have extremely high execution and we have to play assignment-based football.”