Howard Middle School
Improving Huskies Take on Challenging Region
August 22, 2010By Joe Finkelstein of Howard High School
Posted on Tue, Aug. 10, 2010
Improving Howard takes on challenging region
BY JONATHAN HEETER
Bobby Hughes didn’t really have a timetable in mind for building a winning program when he arrived at Howard.
The head coach just wanted to see progress, to see his program heading in the right direction. Hughes believes that his team is headed that way heading into its third season. “I don’t know how it will translate on the field, but our team has worked so hard over the summer,” Hughes said. “We are doing things the right way, and the guys have bought in. But you always have some setbacks when you are building something. I never thought it would be easy, and all we can do is work as hard as we
can to improve.”
Howard made a dynamic jump in the program’s second season, but that wasn’t easily discernable from looking at its record. The Huskies went 3-7 in 2009, just a two-game improvement from their first season. But what gets hidden in the overall record is that the Huskies were a few blown plays away from making the playoffs. They blew a lead
against Northeast and lost by one. Howard lost to Central by three, Greene County by seven and Southwest by six.
“We were definitely better than our record,” offensive lineman Kyle Rackley said. “We watched the film and looked at the things we did wrong. There was just a play here or there. We were close in a lot of games.” Hughes attributed the close losses in part to inexperience. The Huskies were really only competitive in three games their first season, and none of the players had really ever been in a close game on the varsity level. Without those reps in pressure situations, some of the players didn’t know what to expect with the game on the line. “I think we played little tight in some of those games,” Hughes said.
Hughes is optimistic that in-game experience will finally manifest itself in year three, but he’s also prepared for the team’s most difficult schedule by far. Howard moved up a class to AAA, while county rival Westside dropped down. The Huskies are also joined by
heavyweights Baldwin, Mary Persons and Peach County in the region. “If there’s a better region in Class AAA, then I definitely don’t want to be playing in it,” Hughes said.
Offensive lineman Albarra Younis said, “It’s going to be a big challenge, but I think you get better by playing the best.”
Hughes is comforted by his nine returning starters on offense, including four on the offensive line and explosive quarterback Javaris Kelly.
“We’ve developed a lot of camaraderie on the offensive line playing alongside each other for three years,” Rackley said. “I think you can see the improvement in our offense.”
The key loss will be do-everything running back Aarion Palmer, who was an All-Middle Georgia pick as a senior. But Reggie Carey has received plenty of carries his first two years. He’ll be joined by Palmer’s younger brother Alex Palmer and Stratford transfer Davieon Randall.
The defense returns five starters, and the Huskies will have to replace most of their playmakers on that side of the ball. “Things are coming along,” Hughes said. “We feel good about things defensively, but we’re just younger.”
Head coach: Bobby Hughes (third season at Howard, 3-17, eighth year overall, 45-34).
Offensive coordinator: Jason Respert
Defensive coordinator: Quinnen Peavy
2009 record: 2-8
2010 region: 2-AAA
Key players: OL Albarra Younis, Sr.; OL Kyle Wrackley, Sr.; RB Reggie Carey, Jr.; QB Javaris Kelly, Jr.
Aug. 27: Bremen
Sept. 2: Westside
Sept. 10: at West Laurens
Sept. 17: Mary Persons
Sept. 24: at Perry
Oct. 8: at Veterans
Oct. 15: Baldwin
Oct. 21: Rutland
Oct. 29: Peach County
Nov. 5: Central