Five important number for Indians in preseason

by Doug Gorman

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East Coweta head coach Clint Wade shows his team five fingers to represent the number of conditioning practices each player must make in order to be eligible to practice in pads on Thursday, the first allowable day of contact by the Georgia HIgh School Association. Any player that does not complete the five required conditioning days can only practice in helmet only.

It may be just helmets and shorts, but the first five days of football practice are just as important at East Coweta much like they are with any high school program in Georgia.

First and foremost, players have to be in attendance for in order to be eligible to start practice in pads on Thursday, the first allowable day of contact by Georgia High School Association bylaws.

Following Thursday's opening practice, Indians head coach Clint Wade made sure he reminded his players of the rule, spreading one hand out in front of them.

With just over a month left until the Indians kick off the 2013 season against Henry County at home, every practice will be critical to improving on last year's 5-7 season, which despite snapping a string of 24 consecutive seasons with a win-percentage of .500 or better, continued East Coweta's streak of state playoff appearances to 16.

While the Indians return the bulk of last year's offensive starters, there's still plenty of adjustments to be made.

'For the most part, it is just getting familiar and acclimated to things,' said Wade.'There is a lot of enthusiasm and energy out there.'

East Coweta hopes for improving began with a solid participation in spring practice, and it carried over to summer drills.

'We had a lot question marks coming into the summer,' said Wade. 'We had 90 to 100 kids coming into workout. Kids have had a better focus on what we are trying to put them through. We have set certain goals and the kids' attitudes are a lot better.'

The biggest change heading into the new season is on the coaching staff where Ahmand Tinker takes over as defensive coordinator and Jamie Glover coaches the offensive line.

Tinker comes to the Indians program from Spalding County High School. Glover spent several years at Sandy Creek.

Both bring a new sense of discipline to the Indians.

'The whole mentality of the defense is going to change,' Wade said. 'He's in charge of it. It is a little bit different than what we have done in the past. It's akin to something we ran in the 90s.'

Glover comes over from one of the state's most successful programs in recent years.

Last season, Sandy Creek captured the Class AAAA title with a perfect 15-0 record.

Tinker inherits a defense that only brings back four starters, including lineman Tristan Mann and Chris Burton.

Jay McKnight also returns with plenty of experience at linebacker.

The Indians return to practice with seven players returning on offense, including quarterback Bryce Gemmel.

That experience should help the Indians make a solid run in Region 3-AAAAAA where wide receivers Markel Boston and Jacob Bergstrom return as the starting quarterback's top targets.

Gemmel showed his ability to run and throw the football last year, and with Weylin Orr and Malik Robinson threats to breaking off long gains, moving the football shouldn't be an issue for the Indians.

'We just have to make sure we have people in the right positions and doing the right things,' Wade said.

East Coweta will again play one of the toughest non-region schedules in the state, including back-to-back games against powers Sandy Creek and Lovejoy in September.

One benefit this season, however, will be in travel. There are six home games on the schedule and the only major road trip during the regular season will be a visit to Lawrenceville on Sept. 6 to face Archer. The annual East Coweta-Newnan game will close the schedule on Nov. 8 at Drake Stadium.

East Coweta was picked to finish third in the Region 3-AAAAAA media/coaches poll, earning one first place vote.

After five non-region games to open the season, East Coweta opens region play at home against Westlake.



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