High School Football
Indians move on from loss needing victory to clinch
by Chris Goltermann
Football and horseshoes are as far apart on the spectrum as possible when it comes to their similarities as sports. Getting close - even against a formidable opponent - isn't going to win a ny poi nt s either in the scoreboard or the standings when it comes to Friday nights in the fall.
Which is why East Coweta could only pick its head up and move on from last week's disappointing 42-14 loss to Langston Hughes after giving the Panthers their toughest outing to date in three Region 3-AAAAAA contests so far.
Even after staying with Hughes for three quarters in a seven-point game, the Indians find themselves still battling to secure a state-playoff berth from 3-AAAAAA after watching both the Panthers and Newnan grab two of the four available bids from the region last week with victories.
The Indians (4-4, 2-1) only need one more win of their own over the final two weeks of the regular season to join them, with a turnover-plagued Douglas County lineup at 2-6 overall and winless in 3-AAAAAA standing in the way at Garland Shoemake Stadium on Friday.
The Tigers have been their own worst enemy in three consecutive region losses, yielding at least 13 turnovers to opponents. Last week two of which were returned for touchdowns in a 28-7 loss at home to Newnan.
Prior to that, Westlake capitalized on two turnovers against Douglas County in a 25-15 loss and Hughes made the most of its five during a 58-0 win over the Tigers on Oct. 11.
But the only game that comes to the mind of East Coweta head coach Clint Wade when thinking about Douglas County is last year's 38-33 barnburner in Douglasville where the Tigers tried to rally back from deficits of 31-13 and 38-20 in the second half during a game that produced 1,020 total yards between teams.
Wade described it as a 'last one who scores wins,' type of game.
'They've has some issues with turnovers. But from what we've seen on film, they've played tough,' Wade said. 'The word I would use with them is scrappy.'
Second-year head coach Jason Respert turned to 6-4, 200-pound sophomore quarterback Aaron Cauthen last week against Newnan, which went to halftime ahead 7-0 before the Tigers battled back to tie the game early in the third quarter.
'Jason's done a good job with them,' Wade said. 'When you look at them, they play good fundamentals.'
Running backs Juanya Smith and Jorden Thomas have seen their share of success, with Smith reeling off a 45-yard gain to open last week's game against Newnan on a first possession that stalled due to a procedure penalty that cost Douglas County a field goal.
After the Cougars jumped ahead 7-0 in the first minute of the second quarter, the Tigers marched 59 yards on 15 plays while converting on three third-down situations along the way before it ended on an interception near the goal line.
East Coweta's offense, despite being able to match Hughes for three quarters, equally fizzled late with the Panthers taking advantage of three turnovers and a dropped punt snap by Cole Antley in the final period.
'That was disappointing. You start the fourth quarter and it's 21-14 and you think you've got a chance and the next thing you know, you look up and it's 35-14,' Wade said. 'But the kids played hard. All we can do is pick ourselves up, learn from our mistakes, and move on to the next opponent.'
Antley, who just missed on a 51-yard field-goal attempt, proved he has the potential to win a close game, showcasing an impressive right leg in practice on Tuesday and connecting on 1 of 2 chances from at least 47 yards with distance to spare.
Senior quarterback Bryce Gemmel, who was victimized for four interceptions, managed to keep East Coweta in last week's game with a 34-yard strike to senior receiver Markel Boston, the fifth time the two have connected for a touchdown this season.
The 6-1, 190-pound senior, who also led the Indians in tackles from his safety position heading into last week, continues to receive interest from Division I schools.