(This is part of the AJC’s “30 in 30″ series — with quick hits on top high school football teams across the metro area and state during spring football practice. We’re doing 30 football teams in 30 days. Click here for a master list. Hey AJC, what about spring sports? You know, the non-football sports? Click here)
So many good things have happened over the last four years under North Gwinnett mastermind Bob Sphire, that it’s hard to believe that Bulldogs were once a laughingstock among Gwinnett County’s football nation.
How good is North Gwinnett now? They were arguably the second-best team in Georgia last year, suffering their only loss to eventual state champion Camden County in Class AAAA quarterfinals. It dampened an otherwise-perfect season, as the Suwanee school finished with a stellar 12-1 record.
It was fourth time in four years under Sphire that has North Gwinnett has won 10 or more games. What is the significance of that? Since North Gwinnett kicked off football in 1961, the team hadn’t won 10 games in a season until Sphire’s arrival. That covers a 50-year span.
What about this spring? “We always use spring practice to tinker with different adjustments and (formations) within our overall schemes to see how some of these ideas and wrinkles may fit our particular personnel for the coming year,” Sphire said.
” Sometimes we find that they fit and other years they don’t, but that is always a goal of spring practice. We are also always looking for new personnel to step up for the many senior starters (lost to graduation) … so spring practice is a beginning point for figuring out who is getting ready to play.”
North Gwinnett returns only five starters, including three on offense. However, the Bulldogs are stellar on quality, if not quantity. Here are three players to watch:
Team: North Gwinnett Bulldogs
Spring Game: 6 p.m., May 22
Spring practice dates: May 10-22
Last year’s record: 12-1
Starters lost: 17
Head coach: Bob Sphire
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YOUR TURN: Do you think North Gwinnett will win 10 games again this year? Please post below.