MACON, Ga. — Ten years ago, he was one of the newer faces representing one of the newest team at the event.
On Tuesday, Shorter head football coach Phil Jones was back for the annual Peach State Pigskin Preview at the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame where he was available to speak to members of the media about the Hawks as they head into their historic 10 th season.
This time, however, he did so in awe of how the gathering has grown.
“This event has really grown over the last 10 years and it’s very well organized,” Jones, who was accompanied by first-year defensive coordinator Julius Dixon, said as 17 universities and colleges within the state who field teams were in attendance. “It allows the media to be in one place and be able to see all of the coaches, especially to some of the smaller schools they might not have access to.
“And,” he added, “it helps the coaches get to know (the media) and communicate to them the stories of the kids.”
While Jones provided an insight to the media about what was ahead this fall for the Hawks, who enter the season for the first time as a full NCAA Division II and Gulf South Conference member, the morning session also allowed him to renew bonds with his peers, including the likes of Georgia’s Mark Richt and Georgia Tech’s Paul Johnson, who not surprisingly found themselves surrounded by reporters the entire time.
“It’s great to see all of the coaches and talk to them,” said Jones, who in just over two months welcomes back the 2014 edition of the Hawks when they report for preseason practice to prepare for what will easily be their toughest schedule – all against Division II programs – ever.
Shorter opens its 10 th campaign squaring off against three non-conference opponents, hosting Division II and Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association newcomer Paine College of Augusta on Thursday, Sept. 4 at 7:30 p.m. at Barron Stadium.
The following week, Shorter hits the road for the first time when on Saturday, Sept. 13 the Hawks head to North Carolina for a non-conference rematch with Mars Hill, a game that sets the stage for what will be the longest trip the program has ever had to the largest stadium the team has ever played in.
On Saturday, Sept. 20, the Hawks will take the field at the home of the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington, Texas – the 80,000-seat AT&T Stadium – to square off against Lone Star Conference member West Texas A&M for a 1 p.m. (Central) showdown in the annual Lone Star Football Festival that pits GSC members against Lone Star opponents.
That challenge will be the Hawks’ third and final non-GSC game and after taking a week off, Shorter turns its attention to seven straight Gulf South matchups, the first taking place at Barron Stadium on Thursday, Oct. 2 at 7:30 p.m. against Mississippi College.
Shorter has three more homes games at Barron against West Alabama (Oct. 18), Florida Tech (Nov. 1) and West Georgia (Nov. 15), while the Hawks will be on the road to face Delta State (Oct. 11), Valdosta State (Oct. 25) and North Alabama (Nov. 8.)