Brantley County Herons

Swamp Birds

By: Jason Bishop news services

In three years I want you to remember that you read what I am about to say here. The Brantley County Herons are going to be competing for region titles by 2026.

In this last cycle of coaching hires the Brantley County school system made the biggest hire in the state, they hired David Shores as their head football coach.

Who is David Shores you ask? Glad you asked. Shores is the best coach that has flown under the radar over the last five years.

Shores has former head coaching experience in Alabama and has coached at nothing but elite programs since. These stops include Hoover, DC at Lowndes, DC at Camden and Special Teams Coordinator at Brunswick High.

As a matter of fact, when Camden hired Jeff Herron a few years ago they almost hired David Shores instead. That is how good of a coach he is.

Most importantly, Shores has gotten a commitment from the Brantley County school system to commit resources to the football program, something that has not been common in Nahunta, GA.

Brantley is a huge county filled with that talent. That talent often finds its way onto other rosters that are not in Brantley County…..Ware, Pierce, Brunswick, Charlton, etc.

If Shores can keep his talent inside county lines you will see overnight success and improvement for the Heron program.

The Herons will play in a brand new region this season that will consist of Berrien, Bacon County, Fitzgerald, Jeff Davis, Thomasville and Worth County. This is Region 1-A Division 1.

While I don’t expect Brantley to be able to unseat Fitzgerald as the favorite in that region, I do think the playoffs are a reality for the ‘Swamp Birds’.

Last season the Herons went 5-5 overall and 2-4 in region play. A record of 5-5 isnt terrible but the losses are very telling. Against the better teams (Pierce, Toombs, Appling) on their schedule the Herons were outscored 148-20.

The Herons travel to Folkston to take on Charlton to open the season on August 16.

Brantley will also travel to Pierce, Worth, Thomasville, and Bacon County.

The Herons will host Windsor Forest, Vidalia, Jeff Davis, Fitzgerald and Berrien.

Probably the most crucial game on the schedule is going to be the Jeff Davis game. I think the winner of that game will finish with the #4 seed and a playoff berth, where the loser will have to look to 2025 for a playoff appearance.

In 2024 I will predict the Herons go 5-5 in 2024 and begin to build some special things in Nahunta.

By the way, former UGA QB Stetson Bennett is from Brantley but did not play for the Herons. Remember what I was saying about keeping talent inside county lines?



Herons New Hire

By: Kipp Branch news services

Brantley County has their new man in David Shores.

Coach Shores comes to Brantley County after a 3-year stint at Brunswick High School.

Shores served as the Assistant Head Coach, Special Teams Coordinator and Safeties coach for the Pirates.

During the school day, Coach Shores also wore the hat of Strength and Conditioning Coordinator for the Pirates.

Before Brunswick, Shores served as the Defensive Coordinator at Camden County High School from 2017-2020. Prior to Camden, Shores orchestrated defenses at Lowndes (2015-16) and Peach County (2014).

Coach Shores has coached in the GHSA playoffs nine out of ten seasons, since moving to Georgia, from his home state of Alabama.

In his thirteen-year tenure as a high school coach in Alabama, Coach Shores was a part of 2 State Championships, 1 6A Runner-Up, 3 Quarter-Final appearances, 1 Second-Round and 3 First-Round appearances.

Shores began his coaching career as graduate assistant at Auburn University in 1998. From Auburn, Shores served as an assistant coach at both Opelika High School and Hoover High, before going back to the SEC to work as an analyst at Louisiana State University, under Nick Saban.

Shores became defensive coordinator at Pelham High School in 2005, before taking the same title at Spain Park High the following season. He then served as Head Coach at Spain Park from 2008-2010 and Head Coach/Athletics Director at Pell City High School from 2011-2013.

Coach Shores’ record as head coach currently sits at 27-18, with a 3-2 playoff record and 19-11 in region play.

Coach Shores is married to the former Alison Still, of Waycross. Alison currently serves as the President of the Camden County Chamber of Commerce. David and Alison are extremely excited to join the Heron family!

Coach Shores had this to say to me after his hiring became official:

“I am excited about the opportunity ahead of me at Brantley. I feel like this opportunity was meant to be.

I have had a desire to be a head coach again for quite some time and usually apply for numerous openings, but this one just felt right and was the only opening I applied for this year.

It is close to home and Alison, and I really love this area. I grew up playing high school football in a small town. The small-town atmosphere really appeals to me. I feel like smaller communities are more supportive and really buy-in to what we are trying to accomplish with the young people in our program and community.

There are a lot of wonderful things happening at Brantley County High School and I hope to be a great ambassador for the county and play winning football on top of it.

Coach Cannon did a fantastic job here, and he played a lot of kids so we have some experience coming back in 2024, and we will need it because we are in a new region that includes Thomasville, Fitzgerald, and Worth County. Iron sharpens iron is our approach and people better buckle up when they play us.

I begin on March 1st, and we have a lot of work to do between then and August, but we have good kids in the program, great community support, great support from the school system and BCHS administration. I am ready to get to work! Go Herons!”

This is a great hire for Brantley County. David Shores has a great defensive mind and will run the Brantley defense.

He will bring in an offensive coordinator and will not change much scheme wise in year one. Brantley plays single A football and should compete for a playoff spot this fall.

A lot of exciting things are happening in Brantley County, and for the Shores family.

Herons To Fly?

By: Jeff Doke news services

At first glance, the 2020 season for the Brantley County Herons looks like it was a painful one.

The lone victory in their 1-9 campaign was a region win, and was enough to give the Herons a spot in the playoffs – something that Head Coach Geoff Cannon is understandably proud of.

“Before I got to Brantley, they had only made the playoffs twice in 50 years,” Coach Cannon explains. “We’ve now made it twice in the last two years. We have to build on that.”

And build they will. The 2021 Herons squad will have a lot of the same names on the roster, but according to the Coach, they won’t look like the same team.

“We’re returning a lot of guys. We were really young up-front last year, and most of those kids are back. We’re bigger, stronger, we hit the nutrition campaign really hard and our offseason weight program went really well.”

Who will be leading the Brantley County team on offense is still somewhat up in the air. Two-way player Kellen Middleton will see most of the snaps on both sides of the ball for the Herons this year, but rising sophomore Kirkland Cannon looks to be in the mix at signal caller as well.

“Kellen is an extremely gifted athlete, but he can’t come off the field,” explains Coach Cannon. “He’s going to play every snap on defense, he’s going to return kicks, he’s going to cover kicks. Once we put the pads on and scrimmage Vidalia, that will tell us what kind of gains we’ve made at the quarterback position to whether Kellen can move to slot receiver or running back and let Kirkland do some things. It will be interesting to see how they’ve developed. They’ve both had an outstanding summer. Kellen’s going to be out there somehow. If he’s not taking snaps, we’ll be throwing it to him or handing it off to him.”

Also, in the mix at Running Back will be second year player Mason Thomas, as well as a highly anticipated freshman Kendall Wright.

“(Kendall) really has a chance to be something special,” says the Coach. “Kendall is one of a bunch of rising freshmen kids that are going to see a healthy amount of Friday night playing time this year.”

As far as Brantley’s receivers go, there’s “a handful of them that are really getting the job done.” Look for WR/DB Brian Hiott to be another player that won’t be coming off the field. Greysen Guy is another second-year receiver that has “looked really good this summer.”

In addition to the slot receivers, the tight end group should make an impact as well. Expect Garrison Chester to show some growth in both blocking and catching this year.

On defense, Ryan Ratliffe will line up as the starting ILB, along with 2-year All-Region selection RJ Bryan. Little Michael Conner will start at OLB, but according to Coach Cannon, he’ll be coming in on some short yardage plays at RB as well.

Other starters will most likely include senior Brian Brantley, Nathan Willis (who will play some linebacker, some defensive back), and Jojo Steedley, who is coming back at DE.

Another 9th grader with high expectations, Carson Jacobsen is set to get some time on the defensive line.

Special Teams look to be different for the Herons this year. Coach Cannon reports that Brian Hiott took over kicking duties during spring practices.

“I’m looking forward to taking some chances in the kicking game, making special teams a true third segment of the game.”

Overall, Coach Cannon expects 2021 to be a much different year for the Herons than 2020.

“This group of kids is a bunch of fun to be around. They like each other, they like football, and they are a lot of fun to coach.”

“We play a tough schedule, but we should be a lot more competitive than we were last year. As bad as we were, there were still some games we should have won. We hope that with the character of this team, we’ll come out on top in those kinds of games this year.”