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Jim Denney / The Outlook Horseshoe Bend's Holt Tidwell (13) and Gavin Brazzell (15) both had strong games last year against the Central Coosa Cougars, which is one of the games to watch for the Generals this season.

Any time there’s a new coach in town, there’s always a buzz around what has been a struggling football program. Fans are excited to see if the new man in charge will bring about the change they’ve been looking for, and they’re anxiously awaiting another potential disappointment.

But all signs point in the right direction for Horseshoe Bend, which is now under the direction of Jeremy Phillips.

A young coach, Phillips has seemed to bring a new energy to the Generals who are hard at work at summer practice. They’ve gotten numbers up slightly and there’s been an uptick in the excitement surrounding the program.

But all of that doesn’t necessarily translate to wins on the football field. That’s where the season will come into play.

Week 1 vs. Donoho Falcons

Horseshoe Bend kicks off the season against a Dadeville Tigers team it has never beaten. Although Dadeville is replacing a lot of key pieces this offseason, it’s going to be tough for the Generals to overcome the Tigers in their 10th-ever meeting.

However, the Generals return home for Week 1 against the Dohono Falcons. This will be the first chance for HBS fans to get a close-up look at Phillips and find out just what his team might be made of.

Donoho has been on the upswing since the hiring of Mark Sanders, who enters his third year. In his first season, the Falcons won just two games and suffered a 26-14 loss at the hands of HBS. But last year, they turned the tide and dominated the Generals, 25-12, before going on to win nine games and advance to the second round of the playoffs.

This game should be a good test for the Generals against a team in a smaller classification that certainly isn’t known as a powerhouse.

Week 4 vs. Central Coosa Cougars

A year ago, this was the battle of the winless. While Horseshoe Bend fans are certainly hoping they’ll have a couple “W”s under their belts by that point, the Generals know this is a must-win game. 

The Cougars have struggled exponentially lately and are on a 21-game losing streak dating back to 2016. Coosa is hoping to break that this year, but Horseshoe Bend does not want to be the one for it to do it against.

Then-freshman Holt Tidwell had a breakout game against Coosa on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball and was named the Outlook Player of the Week. Stephon Buchanan, who also returns, also rushed for a pair of touchdowns in the win.

Week 7 vs. Vincent Yellow Jackets

An extremely even series, this is one Horseshoe Bend will want to win if it keeps hopes alive for the postseason. Vincent was the last team to make the playoffs out of Class 2A Region 4, while the Generals were on the outside looking in.

This game will be no slouch as it’s Horseshoe Bend’s final road trip of the year but the good news is Vincent will be replacing running back Christopher Hardie, who has been running all over the region since his sophomore season.

Currently a 3-2 split in favor of Vincent, the scoring has been quite even in this series with the Yellow Jackets scoring 99 points compared to 97 for the Generals. 

Lizi Arbogast is the sports editor at Tallapoosa Publishers, Inc.