If there was any doubt as to how good Alcovy would be on the gridiron this year, those thoughts were eliminated last week after a 20-6 win over Rockdale County.
Against the Bulldogs, Matt Gunnells helped the Tigers to their first ever region victory after recovering a fumble and sprinting 41 yards for a touchdown early in the second quarter.
As a result, Alcovy (2-3 overall) is currently tied for first place in Region 8-AAAA, Sub-region B along with two other teams (Cedar Shoals and Salem).
Based on his performance, Gunnells has been selected as the Chick-fil-A Prep Athlete of the Week.
On Thursday, the junior starting inside linebacker reflected on the big defensive play.
"Well, I was blitzing and (teammate) Kelvin Yates made the tackle on the quarterback," said Gunnells. "The ball went rolling, so I picked it up and just started running."
And just like that the Tigers had the lead, refusing to look back along the way. In fact, it set the tone for the game, to which Gunnells agreed.
"It really did," said Gunnells, "because we really couldn't get anything started on offense, especially (during) the first quarter."
Aside from his family, nobody was more excited than Alcovy head coach Kirk Hoffmann after the play.
"He was just at the right place at the right time," said Hoffmann, "and Matt did the right thing, no doubt about it. He's come a long way and I'm really happy for him."
But it hasn't always been this way for the second-year Tigers. Along with most of the team, Gunnells was one of the players who were part of last year's 0-10 team. However, this season has thus far turned out to be a completely different story.
"We're stronger and more disciplined than we were last year," noted Gunnells.
Next to Hoffmann and his assistant coaches, Gunnells, who has been playing football since he was 7 years old, has received help developing his game from several others throughout the years.
"My dad (Jimmy) always pushed me hard," complimented Gunnells. "He always pushed me to do the best I could. My middle school coach also gave me a chance, so that helped out a lot."
As one of the leading tacklers on the team, Gunnells is looking for the same kind of performance against his next opponent: Salem.
"We're going to bring it," said Gunnells, "just like we did against Rockdale."