2018 Record: 2-8 overall (2-5, Region 7 AA)
Head Coach: Jeff Hunnicut1st Season
All Time Record: 750 games – 343-389-18 (47%)
Total Seasons: 77 First Season: 1931 All State Players: 37
Region Championships: 3 (Last in 1979)
State Championships: 3 (1979 Last)
8.23 vs LaFayette
8.30 vs Sonoraville
9.6 at North Murray
9.20 at Dade County
9.27 vs Armuchee
10.4 at Pepperell
10.18 vs Chattooga
10.25 vs Gordon Central
11.1 at Coosa
11.8 at Rockmart
The 2018 season for the Model Blue Devils began with the hiring of a new coach and the growing pains that sometimes comes with new leadership, which led to a rough, wavy ride for the Blue Devils. It seems that the will to win abandoned ship for most of the season. The Devils looked promising after a three-game losing streak when they won two straight, but they followed their short-lived success with a five-game losing streak to finish their season.
Fast forward to 2019 when Model hires a new head football coach, Jeff Hunnicut. Hunnicut is a local and was a very good football player back in his days at Pepperell High School. He is also the son of former Pepperell and Model High School Head Coach, Lynn Hunnicut.
Hunnicut’s intent is to bring a new culture to Model, but not in the way you traditionally think of when it comes to football.
“We have based the offseason around becoming a family. We are going to continue to improve our attitude, character and self-discipline. We are going to be committed and take pride in what and how we do things on and off the field,” says Hunnicut. “I think these guys have already realized I’m enthusiastic about the game of football and I am enthusiastic about them as young student athletes. They know that I’m going to hold them accountable to our expectations as Blue Devils and I am going to help them throughout this process.”
Some of the goals Hunnicut has set for the Model Blue Devils in 2019 reflects the culture change he will push, one of those being zero ineligible players. This means the Blue Devils will have to perform well in the classroom, as well as on the field, in order to stay eligible. Hunnicut wants his players to practice hard, improve and get better every week, and that will accomplish another goal: practicing the week of Thanksgiving. If you are practicing that late in the season, it means you hit yet another goal. That goal is making the 2019 GHSA playoffs.
With nine returning players who were All-Region in 2018, Model has a talented football foundation on the field to build upon, especially when considering a new culture in 2019.
The Blue Devils are transitioning to a more wide-open offense for the 2019 season. In order to make the scheme successful, Hunnicut is leaning on a few of his players to lead the way. “Our offensive line will be the key to us becoming a successful offense. These guys will have nothing on the stat line on Friday nights, but we are going to build and grow with their success,” says Hunnicut.
The new offense will utilize a variety of different players and their myriad of skill sets, and not so much of leaning on a star to carry the team. “I expect us to commit ourselves to the offense and, more importantly, to ourselves,” Hunnicut explains. “The guy beside, behind or in front of us has to buy in, and our touchdown production will increase. We must adopt the ‘band of brothers’ mentality to become an above average offense.”
Hunnicut is expecting to have a high-scoring offense this year. Tight end Corbin Lamb (senior) and wide receiver Cole Couey (senior) will be instrumental in the transition to a more explosive offense and helping the younger players develop.
The Blue Devils’ defense will also be changing in 2019.
“We are moving from a 3-5 to a 3-4. This is not a tremendous change for the kids on this side of the ball,” says Hunnicut. He also says that he believes in keeping it simple for the players. “I am a firm believer in the K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Students) method on defense. We are going to get 11 helmets to the ball and have relentless effort in our pursuit.”
Model is looking to their defensive front to lead the entire unit this season. Senior defensive linemen Shaud Askew and Tyler Gamble will be looking forward to improving on their prior all-region seasons. Hunnicut explains how important the D-line play will be for them this year. “Much like the offense, we are going to win or lose a game in the trenches. The defensive line will set the tone and be our key to stops and keeping opponents out of the endzone.”
Senior linebackers Drew Tanner, A.J. Woods and Jabari Burge will provide leadership and experience to defensive coach Gary Johnson’s unit, as well as, junior linebacker Hunter King. Another junior, Sam Silver, will be important as they are looking for a lot from their experienced players in the Blue Devil secondary.
The special teams’ units are important to the Blue Devil’s system and season. Once practices go into full swing at the end of July, important positions will be determined then. However, Hunnicut will only choose Blue Devils with the goal to play with pride, effort and determination.
Beginning a second straight season with a new head coach is not easy for any program at any time. Hunnicut is changing the culture and instilling pride in the program. More of his goals, like winning all of the Blue Devils home games and, an even bigger deal, winning all of their Floyd County games, will raise the Model Blue Devils pride to an even higher level. Winning Region 7 AA and hosting a first round playoff game puts the Blue Devils in route to a Class AA state championship victory.