High School Football
Indians, Panthers set to clash for region lead
by Doug Gorman
As one of two remaining unbeaten teams in Region 3-AAAAAA, the East Coweta Indians have put themselves in position to grab one of the four Region 3-AAAAAA playoff spots.
But an upset victory Friday night against visiting Langston Hughes would almost guarantee it.
The two teams come into the Indians' Homecoming night at Garland Shoemake Stadium tied for a share of the lead in the 3-AAAAAA standings. Tonight's winner, though, will be sitting in the driver's seat heading into the final two games of the season.
East Coweta (4-3 overall, 2-0 in Region 3-AAAAAA) is coming off a 28-19 win over Tri-Cities last week, while Langston Hughes (6-1, 2-0) knocked off Newnan 30-3.
The Indians have played their best football over the past month, putting together a three game winning streak that's included hard-fought wins over Central-Phenix City, Ala (41-40), Westlake (14-7), and Tri-Cities (28-19) by a combined 17 points.
Averaging 31 points per game, scoring hasn't been a problem for East Coweta.
'We have stayed the course and have played hard. Our coaches have had good games plans and we are improving each week,' said East Coweta head coach Clint Wade about the recent streak. 'I am proud of the way our team keeps fighting.'
Stopping opposing offenses, however, has been as much Langston Hughes' forte again in 2013 coming off last year's 11-2 season. The Panthers have given up just 10 points over the last four weeks while also holding all but one opponent to two scores or less through seven games.
Countering East Coweta's recent run, Hughes has won its last six games while outscoring opponents by a 238-38 margin.
At the heart of Hughes' defensive unit has been a front-four that has created the majority of the pressure against opposing quarterbacks, allowing the linebackers and secondary to make plays. Last week, the Panthers intercepted three passes in a 30-3 win over Newnan, two on tipped balls that were gobbled up by their secondary.
'They are so fast on defense,' Wade said. 'Their ends are a lot to deal with. They can really make things happen.'
Despite dropping its season opener to a dedicated Creekside lineup that has yet to lose a game, Hughes has yet to be challenged outside of a 37-28 win at Wheeler on Sept. 13. Two of the wins during the streak, include shutouts against Rockdale (34-0) and Douglas County (54-0).
East Coweta's last three wins have been close encounters including last week's effort at Tri-Cities where Indians spotted the Bulldogs a first-quarter touchdown before scoring twice in the second quarter to take a 14-7 lead at the half.
The Indians never trailed again, getting two rushing touchdowns each from seniors Bryce Gemmel and Malik Robinson. Markel Boston added two interceptions to keep the Bulldogs from catching up.
Gemmel with more than 200 all-purpose yards, completed 14 of 23 passes to six receivers for 100 yards. The secondyear starting quarterback also scoring twice on the ground en route to another 105 rushing.
Robinson, meanwhile, has also come up big when asked to take on a larger role in the offense. Last week, the fullback led East Coweta with 109 yards rushing on 20 carries and two touchdowns to take the team-lead with eight scores this season.
'We still have plenty of work to do,' Wade said. 'We are happy with the progress we are making.'
Trying to stop a quick-strike offense, however, could be a challenge for the Indians.
A week ago against Newnan, the Panthers built a 20-0 lead early, producing three touchdowns in just six offensive plays.
A move to make junior Kinan Humphrey the full-time starter at quarterback continued to pay off last week for Hughes in a game that had last year's signal-caller, Kenny Moxie, catching two touchdown passes against Newnan.
Senior running back Keion Davis, a Division I recruit, continued to provide big plays as well with a 78-yard touchdown against Newnan.