That is the word that has been plastered onto the Alcovy Tigers football program for the last two seasons after coach Chris Edgar took the program’s reigns in 2016.
Before that, Alcovy devolved from consistently fielding a respectable football squad to being a badly wounded program. With only one win in two seasons before Edgar took over, the new coach realized that he was going to have to change the entire culture as he stepped into the head role with a team he has been with since the school’s start.
“I’ve been on staff since the beginning,” Edgar said. “I’ve seen the highs and lows of this team. We have talent, but a lot of the time its overlooked.”
The first season under his belt, the Tigers finished with four wins — doubling in one season its win total for the previous two — which was a crucial step up from previous years. In year two, the Tigers took a step back in the win column with a 3-7 finish, but showed continual signs of improvement in all phases.
“That first year we were getting pushed around alot, but last year, there are probably three region games we should’ve or could’ve won,” Edgar said. “The closing of the gap is happening, just sometimes not as fast as you want it. But now we’re looking to take that next step from being just competitive to being a consistent winner.
In just a few short days year three will kick off, and much like last season, Edgar knows that the number one goal for the team is postseason play.
“Every season is playoff or bust,” he said. “The goal is to get to the playoffs. Its been a few years since it’s happened, but with the talent, work ethic and chip on their shoulder our guys have, that is the expectation this season.”
There is an unwritten idea that coaches typically get about three to four seasons to prove to the higher-ups and fans that they belong in their positions. The pressure is on, but Edgar is looking past that and remains focused on the task at hand, knowing that this year is very different from previous ones.
“There’s been a lot of shakeup in our region,” he said. “Its going to be a wide-open race. I lost all my skill to graduation like my receivers, but I return pretty much my entire offensive line, which is huge.”
Both literally and figuratively speaking.
Among the returners are Marcus Perdomo and Gavin Fletcher — both all-region caliber performers, and both staples of a much improved line. Considered an undersized weakness of the team when Edgar first arrived, Alcovy’s size up front is noticeable, considering players Perdomo (285 pounds), Antonio Aiken (280 pounds) and 6-foot-2, 315-pound junior Jacob Wade dot the roster.
Those space eaters up front look to pave the way for a stable of talented ball carriers in Andrae and Adrian Robinson, Natorien Holloway and Cameron Daniels while providing adequate pass protection for quarterback Nick Simmons.
Locked in a competitive Region 3-AAAAAA, it is imperative that the Tigers win some region games this season, a feat they could not accomplish in 2017. And with a non-region schedule that includes games with both Eastside and Newton (for the first time since 2012), Salem and perennial South Georgia power Colquitt County, the Tigers feel they’ll be ready for whatever region play brings them.
“From the get go it’s been our main goal to win region,” Simmons said. “The first five games are basically just to gain respect and get wins. After those games are done, we are set on winning all five of our region games and being named region champs.”
Edgar knows this, and he firmly believes that he has the guys to get the job done and finally leap over the playoff hurdle that has stood in front of them since 2013.
“With our returners on offense and defense, and the twins and Holloway in the backfield, I really feel confident about our chances for competing for a playoff spot,” he said. “I really think that this is the year we break through.”
Returning starters on offense: QB Nick Simmons, RB Adrian Robinson, RB Andre Robinson, OL Marcus Perdomo, OL James Adams, K Jose Ramos.
Returning starters on defense: DB Bryson Wilcox, DE Jalen Banks, LB Logan Wyatt, DE Gavin Fletcher.
Key departures: ATH Quindrelin Hammonds, WR Dee Fanning, WR Nico Johnson, WR Kameron Phuong, CB Demetrius Tuggle, LB Stephon Jefferson.
Key Newcomers: WR Eric Johnson, ATH Demetrius Thrower, MLB Dylan Rutledge, OL Jimmy Argueta, WR Antonio Best.
When on offense: Edgar plans on basing the offense off a three-receiver set, with two running backs in the backfield. “We’re going to spread it out on you,” he said. New offensive coordinator Damaoi’n Wright is looking to be about 65 percent run and 35 percent pass.
When on defense: The Tigers will be without All-Region linebacker Stephon Jefferson this season, but Edgar has high hopes for his front four, led by one of his top players in Jalen Banks. “I expect him and BJ Adams to have monster years,” he said.
When on special teams: Alcovy lays host to one of the best kickers in the area in Jose Ramos, who can boot field goals from 50-plus yards out. He will be the team’s placekicker and punter this season, hoping to help the Tigers win the field position battle. As far as kick returning, Edgar noted that both Adrian and Andrae Robinson will be the primary deep returners on opposite sides of each other, making their return game potentially deadly.
Key Games: 8/17 @ Newton, 8/31 vs Eastside, 9/28 @ Colquitt County, 10/19 vs Heritage
Coach Speak: “Every season is playoffs or bust for us. And every game is important.
8/17: vs. Newton at Sharp Stadium, 7:30 p.m.
8/23: vs. Rockdale County at Sharp Stadium, 7 p.m.
8/31: vs. Eastside at Sharp Stadium, 7:30 p.m.
9/7: at Salem, 7:30 p.m.
9/28: at Colquitt County, 8 p.m.
10/5: at Grovetown, 7:30 p.m.*
10/11: vs. Lakeside, 7 p.m.*
10/19: vs. Heritage, 7:30 p.m.*
10/26: at Evans, 7:30 p.m.*
11/1: at Greenbrier, 7 p.m.*
*Denotes Region Game