Lanier’s Tario Fuller (8) runs the ball during a game last season. (Photo: Craig Cappy)
The road trips from Sugar Hill are interesting for Lanier’s football team.
Sometimes it’s a drive to the mountains. Sometimes it’s a drive down to Covington. And a few other spots in between. Some of those treks involve minimal traffic, others follow clogged roads.
The Longhorns have gotten plenty of that road experience early this season with four of their first five games on the road.
“It’s really more of a logistical issue than anything,” Lanier head coach Billy Wells said. “Certainly we’d like to have one or two more games at home early in the season. Some of our travel is more than an hour so we have to think a lot about when we load the trailer, when we eat, when we arrive. … Being on the road early, the thing we’ve learned most is management of time. After you travel an hour, by the time you get there, there’s no down time. Everything’s laid out for you.”
The first two stops on the early-season journey have gone well for the Longhorns, a 42-14 win at Apalachee and a 27-0 win at Franklin County last Friday sandwiching the only home game of the stretch, a 24-7 victory over Oconee County.
The next step is Friday's trip to Madison County. It’s more important than the previous ones for Lanier, off to its first 3-0 start, because it’s the Region 8-AAAA opener. It’s the Longhorns’ first step to their goal, their first playoff berth.
“The first three games it’s important to have success because it is the beginning of a new season,” Wells said. “I know this sounds cliche, but it is a new season at this point. Those first three games are important for what you’ve learned from them, but this is a new season and the one that matters.”
Lanier, which faces a road game at powerful Monroe Area next week, won a close game with Madison County last season in the program’s first-ever region game. The Longhorns squeaked out a 14-7 win, but they would prefer a more convincing win along the lines of their first three this season.
They got another big game last week from running back Tario Fuller, who had 29 carries for 139 yards and a score. Jesse Landers (14 tackles) and Ricky Viengxay (13 tackles) had good performances again for a Lanier defense that gets linebacker Michael Shaw, held out with an injury last week, back for the Madison County game.
LANIER AT MADISON COUNTY
Lanier Longhorns (8-AAAA)
Coach: Billy Wells
Record: 3-0, 0-0 region
Last week: Beat Franklin County 27-0
Madison County Red Raiders (8-AAAA)
Coach: Chris Smith
Record: 2-1, 0-0 region
Last week: Lost to North Oconee 42-7
When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Last meeting: Lanier won 14-7 last year
Directions to Madison County High School: Take Highway 316 to Athens and take 29 North to Danielsville. In downtown Danielsville, make a right on Madison St. near the courthouse. The school is less than a mile on the right.