High School Football

Indians hurdle first Mountain in Pardue’s debut

by By Chris Girouard, Special to the Newnan Times-Herald


East Coweta senior Kevin Lashley hurdles over an Arabia Mountain defender during the Indians’ season-opening 42-14 victory at Garland Shoemake Stadium. 

New East Coweta head football coach Steve Pardue admitted that the last two teams he led got off to a slow start in his first season at the helm, and he was hoping that the same wouldn’t hold true for the Indians in his inaugural campaign.

Well, the coach could rest easy late Friday.

After Arabia Mountain stunned the Indians and their opening-night crowd at Garland Shoemake Memorial Stadium with a quick, game-opening four-play touchdown drive, East Coweta responded by shutting the Rams out for the remainder of the first half and pulling away with a solid offensive performance in a 42-14 victory.

With the win, the Indians open their season at 1-0, while the Rams, playing their second game of the season, dropped to 0-2.

“I’m really excited for our kids,” Pardue said. “The first drive of the game they go down the field and we don’t slow them down. A big part of that game was our offense answering that score, going down the field and taking some time off the clock.”

East Coweta did most of its damage on the ground, but also got some timely passing from quarterback Will LaGuardia. The 5-10 sophomore threw just seven times, but completed five of those passes for 90 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He also threw one interception.

“Will got us out of some things with his feet,” Pardue said. “Take away the one interception and I thought he had a really good game. He managed the game well.”

He was backed by a clock-eating running attack that was led by fellow sophomore Devonte Brown.

Brown carried the ball 17 times for 152 yards including a long 39-yard score to answer the Rams’ opening drive on the first series of the game by East Coweta.

LaGuardia and Alex Branch also contributed to the Indians’ running attack. Branch carried 11 times for 57 yards and a late 1-yard touchdown run. LaGuardia ran 10 times for 30 yards and two scores.

“We ran it for 309 yards (as a team) on 49 carries,” Pardue said. “Devonte had 152 yards rushing and I thought Alex Branch ran it really good, late in the game especially. “

After the Rams’ opening score, the Indians answered with 28 straight points to close out the half with a 28-7 advantage.

“For our defense to respond the way they did, to shut them out the rest of the first half, if we don’t get two turnovers with them fixing to score again in the first half they might blow it open. Still, up 28-7, you’re excited at halftime.”

The second half was a little more shaky, as it appeared the Indians got a little over-confident with their lead.

The high-powered passing attack of Arabia Mountain kicked into gear and the team started moving the ball more effectively.

“I don’t think we handled prosperity well,” Pardue said. “Our goal was to come out and hammer them. To be honest, I never felt comfortable. With their quarterback and receivers they are a very scary football team.”

The Rams cut the lead to 28-14 late in the third quarter. However, the Indians recovered and scored twice in the fourth to put it out of reach.

Arabia Mountain 7 0 7 0- 14

East Coweta 21 7 0 14- 42

1st Quarter

AM — Jakobi Myers to Camiel Grant III 10 pass, (Silas Butler kick), 10:39

EC — Devonte Brown 39 run, Cole Antley kick, 7:56

EC — Will Laguardia 4 run, Antley kick; 4:38

EC — Laguardia to Jacob Bergstrom 9 pass, Antley kick; 2:10

2nd Quarter

EC — Laguardia 1 run, Antley kick; 3:32

3rd Quarter

AM — Myers to Malick Mbodj 17 pass, Butler kick; 3:29

4th quarter

EC — Laguardia to Kevin Lashley 34 pass, Antley kick; 11:51

EC — Alex Branch 1 run, Antley kick; 2:07

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