Coach: Roger Gentry 0-0 (6-4 overall)
Returning starters (O/D/K): 7/5/2
Remember these names: Gentry said the Phoenix would be stupid not to get running back Shaqueal Slocum (Sr., 5-9, 180) — formerly Shaqueal McAfee — the ball as much as possible in the new wing-T offense. Quarterback Tyler Harris (Jr. 6-5, 225) will have the responsibility of reading defenses. Linemen Noah Henson (Sr., 6-0, 245) and Josh Bowling (6-3, 245) will be crucial to any Sonoraville success.
Will be a memorable year if: With a new coaching staff and new offensive philosophy, the team shows improvement throughout the season and wins the games it should. An upset or two would make the season special.
Aug. 19 at Darlington
Sept. 2 Model
Sept. 9 at Adairsville
Sept. 16 North Murray*
Sept. 23 at Chattooga*
Sept. 30 Calhoun*
Oct. 6 at Gordon Central*
Oct. 14 at Dade County*
Oct. 21 Lakeview-FO*
Nov. 4 Region play-in game
* Region 7B-AA game
“The most memorable moment for us is the year  we went 7-3 and beat Chattooga,” said Gentry, who had been an assistant since the program started in 2006. “That’s the game that everybody talks about.”
Sonoraville beat Chattooga 30-17 that season.
“They have great athletes, and we’d won some games coming in, but we needed that big one to get over the hump,” Gentry said. “We were down 17-6 at halftime and told our kids that we’re making mistakes to beat ourselves.”
Gentry, who claims to be an old-school coach, loved that game.
“We pounded it and pounded it until we wore them out,” he said. “A lot of people still talk about that game. When we won that night, a lot of people said, ‘Y’all got a football team.’”
First-year head coach Roger Gentry is exposing the Sonoraville Phoenix to new experiences.
Players stayed on campus for a three-day camp that included late-night and early-morning sessions. He wanted to show his players that there’s more to football — and life — than what’s in the Calhoun, Ga., area.
The Phoenix won just three games last year, five the year before and approached the playoffs with a 7-3 record in 2008.
“What it’s leading to is that each kid has to grow up,” Gentry said. “If you stay in your own yard and get comfortable, that’s how you’ll react. You have to go into somebody else’s yard to see what’s there.”
The Phoenix participated in 7-on-7 passing tournaments in Pickens, Rockmart and Dalton, in addition to an offensive-line challenge — each a first for the program.
“Baylor beat us by three points and our kids said, ‘Them Baylor people are different,’” Gentry said. “I asked the kids what they meant. They said, ‘They act like their stuff don’t stink.’
“I said, ‘You can have your opinion,’ but we all know.”
Gentry, who had been an assistant since the Phoenix program began in 2006, described himself as an old-school coach with an old-fashioned philosophy.
“I want discipline, and that goes in the classroom, the weight room and the football field,” Gentry said. “I don’t even allow earrings. Kids are going to keep their lockers clean.
“We’re going to stay on them about the little things.”
David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...