High School Football
Indians surprised by Tigers
High school sports are supposed to teach young athletes life lessons through competition. The East Coweta High School football team got a hard lesson last night: Sometimes you just have a really bad day.
The Indians were schooled in that old adage Friday night by Douglas County. The Tigers were able to run the ball, almost at will, and made it impossible for the Indians to do much of anything on the ground — or through the air — en route to a 21-7 win, spoiling East Coweta Senior Night at Garland Shoemake Stadium.
“I hate it for (the seniors),” East Coweta head coach Clint Wade said. “But things like that happen and you’ve just got to persevere through it and try to get it behind you the best you can.”
With the victory, the Tigers (3-6) snapped a six-game losing streak and, more importantly, kept their Region 3-AAAAAA playoff hopes alive to move to 1-3 while heading into next week’s game against winless Tri-Cities (0-8-1, 0-4).
The loss dropped the Indians to 4-5 overall and 2-2 in the region while now in a must-win situation heading into a trip to play rival Newnan next week.
“We’ve got to re-circle the wagons and try to get geared up for next week,” Wade said.
Overall, it was the teams’ ground attacks that dictated the outcome of the game. While no Douglas County rusher broke the 100-yard mark, three different players exceeded 40 yards.
Topping the list was Travis Beaird, a bruising senior tailback. He ran the ball 15 times for 79 yards and scored all three of the Tigers’ touchdowns on the evening. His efforts were backed by those of classmate Kenny McMillian. He ran eight times for 69 yards. Sophomore quarterback Malik Oliver had eight carries for four yards. Aaron Cauthen, another sophomore at quarterback, who split time with Oliver, ran five times for 25 yards.
Unlikely as it may sound, it was the Indians who broke through with a score first. Two plays into the second quarter, senior quarterback Bryce Gemmel, playing in his final home game for the Indians, broke through the Tigers’ defense for a 65-yard touchdown run. It was the longest run of the game for either team and it put the Indians up 7-0. However, the lead was short-lived.
Douglas County started its next drive at its own 33-yard line. The drive began with Cauthen taking the snaps behind center. In fact, his big 18-yard burst on third and 6 kept the Tigers moving just when it seemed the Indians’ defense may be up to the task of killing the drive. The next play was even bigger. Cauthen hooked up with McMillian on a 28-yard pass that brought the ball to the East Coweta 17. When a pair of running plays brought a net loss of six yards, Oliver came back in the game and connected with receiver Justin Bridges for a gain of 22 yards to the 1. Beaird dove in from there to tie the game with 7:45 to go in the half.
The Tigers made it 14-7 just prior to halftime. Another big pass to Bridges, this time for 31 yards, set up a six-yard scamper to the end zone by Beaird to make it 14-0 with 44 seconds to play in the second quarter. The run capped a nine-play drive that lasted 4:03.
The final scoring drive of the game culminated with 3:14 left in the third. Once again Beaird broke the plane, this time from nine yards away. A pair of EC penalties, including a big one for pass interference, kept it moving when the Indians appeared on the verge of stopping it.
“I got out-coached,” Wade said. “We got out-played. I’m disappointed. I’m really disappointed.”
The Indians took to the air to try and close the gap. Their efforts proved fruitless, however, as most of Gemmel’s passes fell incomplete or were dropped by receivers. Gemmel finished the day 10 of 32 for 106 yards and an interception. He ran the ball six times for 75 yards as the only effective runner for the Indians.
“Our running game was ineffective,” Wade said. “That really hurt us all along. But wherever you fall short you just try to overcome it by working hard and trying to do the best you can.”
Tigers 21, Indians 7
Douglas County 0 14 7 0— 21
East Coweta 0 7 0 0— 7
EC —Bryce Gemmel 65 run (Cole Antley kick), 11:37
DC — Travis Beaird1 run (Carlos Serna kick), 7:45
DC — Beaird 6 run (Serna kick), :44
DC — Beaird 9 run (Serna kick), 3:14