The biggest challenge Greenbrier's football team faced a season ago will present itself again in 2009.
All Greenbrier's sports teams have dealt with the issue of travel since the school was reclassified and its teams began competing in Region 2-AAAAA, with the majority of those schools based in the Atlanta area.
The Wolfpack football team faces more time on the road this season, with four trips to Atlanta instead of three, and two fewer home games.
Greenbrier coach Brian Smith said he expects his team to be more prepared for the challenges of the road this season. He said the Wolfpack were probably "shell-shocked" by their initial exposure to Class AAAAA.
"We'd never played in those stadiums," Smith said. "We'd never traveled to those places, and we've never had to warm up in those environments. So it was a little different. But I think now our guys know what to expect, and so we're ready for it."
Smith joked that the Wolfpack enter 2009 on a winning streak, having won their first-ever game in their new classification by beating Redan 59-57 to end the season.
The star of that game, Ben Turner, has graduated and so have playmakers T.D. Davis, Bryan Andrews and lineman Dylan Turner.
But Smith and his team are confident in what the Wolfpack have coming back.
Senior Blake Ross will take on a utility role similar to Andrews' last season. Ross will play receiver, safety and will return kickoffs and punts. And after shuffling quarterbacks last season, Smith appears to have settled on one for Greenbrier's Aug. 28 opener at Evans.
Junior Scott Reeder should get the start after leading the Wolfpack's junior varsity squad last season.
"I'm more anxious than nervous," Reeder said. "I'm ready to get out there and show what I got."
Ross said facing the Knights at Blanchard Stadium should give Reeder a good feel for the type of atmosphere he will face on the road in Atlanta.
"The crowds are probably like a Greenbrier-Evans crowd for their games," Ross said. "Every game."
The county rivals' meeting will include a somber reminder of what the Wolfpack will face this season.
Evans is expected to hold a moment of silence for Chris Smith, a Greenbrier receiver who drowned July 18 at Strom Thurmond Lake. Greenbrier has planned a ceremony to remember Smith during the Wolfpack's home opener against Lakeside on Sept. 11. Brian Smith said he talked with his players about the tragedy at the start of summer practice and that the team was trying to move forward.
"It's just something that we acknowledge is there, but we don't talk about it a whole lot," Smith said. "I think everybody realizes they have a job to do, and that's where their focus is at."
2009 Greenbrier High football schedule
Aug. 28 at Evans
Sept. 4 at Harlem
Sept. 11 vs. Lakeside
Sept. 18 Open
Sept. 25 vs. Douglas
Oct. 2 vs. Union Grove
Oct. 9 at Luella
Oct. 16 at Newton
Oct. 23 vs. M.L. King
Oct. 31 at Stephenson
Nov. 7 at Redan
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