The Pickens Dragons are coming off a winning season with a postseason appearance with first year head coach Jeff Nelson. The Dragons were led by Senior QB C.J. Streicher who led the team in rushing and passing yards. On defense, they were led by Seniors T.C. Jarrett and Alex Snelgrove who kept the Dragons in a position to win.
Moving into this season, Pickens has moved into a new region, with new opponents, and will rely on some new faces to lead the team to success. As always with our 2020 schedule previews, these games are subject to change due to COVID-19.
August 21st Gilmer @ Pickens
August 28th Pickens @ Chattooga
September 4th Pickens @ White County
September 11th Coosa @ Pickens
September 18th Pickens @ Union County
October 2nd Pickens @ Cedartown
October 9th Ridgeland @ Pickens
October 16th Pickens @ Central (Carrolton)
October 30th Heritage @ Pickens
November 6th Northwest Whitfield @ Pickens
Somethings never get old, and the Gilmer/Pickens Rivalry is a prime example. Everyone will be excited for the season to begin, but the buzz around town will be even bigger due to the magnitude of this rivalry. Gilmer has moved down to 3A classification, so these teams are no longer in the same region. Gilmer is coming off a season when they won their first game in 4 years, largely thanks to first year head coach Kevin Saunders. However, the Dragons took care of business against the Bobcats last year and brought home another win with a score of 35-23. Gilmer only graduated 5 Seniors last year, meaning they will have lots of continuity from last season.
A new opponent for the Dragons this year will be the Chattooga Indians. Chattooga had moderate success last year, going 5-5 in the season and losing in the first round of the playoffs. Chattooga was a run first team last season, with Sophomore RB Lashaun Lester racking up over 1500 yards and 14 touchdowns. However, they graduated 13 players that they will need to replace. The Dragons will need to limit the running game in this matchup to bring home a win.
The Dragons will make a trip to Cleveland to play the White County Warriors. White County was able to get the best of Pickens last year (27-20), even though they had a losing season (4-6) and missed the playoffs. White has Jben Haynes returning for his Senior Season after he led the Warriors in rushing and passing yards in 2019. Pickens will need to keep him contained and force the ball out of his hands quickly.
Pickens will host the Coosa Eagles for their 4th game of the season. Coosa is coming off a rough season, only winning one game against Armuchee. However, Coosa only graduated 5 Seniors, so this team should be ready and familiar with each other. One big change is new head coach Joey Mathis after Coach Todd Wheeler resigned after 7 seasons with the Eagles. Coach Mathis comes from Marion County in Tennessee with two postseason appearances.
The Dragons will hit the road and head to Blairsville to face the Union County Panthers. The Panthers have been one of the most successful teams in North Georgia with a 9-win season in 2018 and a 10-win season in 2019. They are losing a big part of their offense with Pierson Allison graduated, as well as 16 other Seniors. This game will be interesting to see if the Panthers are able to repeat their success, and if the Dragons are good enough to compete with them.
Pickens will open their region schedule with a trip to Cedartown to play the Bulldogs. Cedartown finished the season last year with a 5-5 record and a postseason appearance. The Bulldogs graduated 9 Seniors last year but have 13 rising Seniors to replace them. New Head Coach Jamie Abrams will have 13 Rising Seniors to work with this season. Abrams comes from McEachern where he served as Defensive Coordinator.
Next on the schedule is an old foe that has joined Pickens in the new region, Ridgeland. The Panthers had an interesting year, losing every non-region game and winning all but one region game. Ridgeland will look very different this year after graduating 20 Seniors. Pickens lost to Ridgeland in 2019 41-28, helping the Panthers secure the first seed. A familiar opponent with a different roster will be an interesting dynamic for this game.
Another region game will take the Dragons to Carrolton to play the Central Lions. The Lions had a rough season last year, only winning 3 games all season. Central will have to replace Senior QB Kashif Taylor and Senior RB Braden Dunson. These two combined for most of the Lions offensive ability last season. The Dragon defense will need to put pressure on the younger players replacing these two.
The Dragons will close the season with two games at home. They will host the Heritage Generals for the last game of October. Heritage finished second in the region last year after losing to Ridgeland but managed to finish the season with an 8-2 record and lost in the first round of the playoffs. Pickens and Heritage played a close game last season (21-20) with the Generals taking the win. Heritage will rely on rising Senior Nick Hanson to lead the General offense this season. He threw for over 1700 yards and had 19 touchdowns on the year. Hanson only thew 5 interceptions last year, but the Dragons defense will need to force him to make more mistakes than normal to beat the Generals high powered offense.
The final game of the season will pit the Dragons against the Northwest Whitfield Bruins. Northwest had a successful season last year, finishing the regular season with a record of 7-3. However, they finished 4th in the region after losing to Pickens last season. The Bruins have lots to be excited about this season, as QB Owen Brooker is returning for his Sophomore season. He started all 11 games last season and racked up over 1500 yards. He will need to run the ball more as Head Coach Josh Robinson moves the offense to an RPO style. The Dragons will be put to the test against him but proved last season they were up to the task.
We’ll once again be covering the Pickens Dragons on our Pickens County Coaches Show with Will Cooper and Coach Nelson, as well as here on our website every week.