COVINGTON, Ga. — Sometimes it gets old for coaches to keep on telling you how good, intense or much improved certain individual players or whole team units are.
When that happens, it can be helpful to revert to a timely anecdote.
Alcovy football coach Chris Edgar has one about junior linebacker Demetrius Throwerthat he’ll probably pull out and use if you ask him about the intensity level of his team’s defense during the offseason.
“During spring ball, we were doing 7-on-7 drills, and we ran one route coming across the middle,” Edgar said. “I looked up and saw a linebacker flash across and just, wham! He hits the kid and lays him out. It was Demetrius. And go up to him and say, ‘Demetrius. What are you going? This is 7-on-7s. You can’t hit like that.’”
The response that followed was simply a linebacker talking like a linebacker.
“He said to me, ‘Coach, I had the middle hole and I had to stop the middle hole,’” Edgar continued. “How could you argue that? It’s just an example of how we’re beginning to garnish that reputation as being a nasty defense looking to take people’s heads off.”
Anyone who’s been following the Alcovy football program over the last several years, though, would know that such a reputation hasn’t always been.
It’s well documented that before Edgar ascended from assistant to head coach, the Tigers went through a 1-19 stretch of football over two years. Edgar took the reins, knowing that priority one would be to beef up the trenches on both sides of the ball. And at least on paper, it looks like it’s mission accomplished.
“We’ve got some size now,” Edgar said. “With our returning four starters on the line, plus Jacob Wade who’s over 300 pounds, and I’ve another 300 pounder, I think with some of the turmoil and turnover in our region, that central pipeline is going to be our strength, and maybe the biggest in our region.”
Ironically Thrower, arguably one of Alcovy’s most ferocious hitters, is actually one of the smaller players on the team. The 5-foot-8, 185-pound linebacker has also played some running back, particularly on last year’s JV squad where he had a memorable carry in the 2017 scrimmage at Miller Grove when he ran over a couple of players.
Edgar said Thrower’s taken that flash of aggression and turned it into a longer lasting stream of light.
“You know, he’s just really exploded,” Edgar said. “Last year he transferred over from Tucker and was a good JV player for us. I don’t know what clicked on in his head after last year, but since then, he’s been killing it in the weight room and doing all he can to step up and fill the void left by Stephon (Jackson). He had six tackles in the first half of the spring game at Woodland, four of them were violent. That’s just what he brings.”
And here’s why he brings it.
“I mean, I’ve been raised up by people in my family who always told me to be the dog of the team, the heavy hitter and everything else,” Thrower said.
Two of those people he credits to instilling that mentality are both of his grandmothers who are now deceased. Thrower said he remembers their words of encouragement and inspiration and plays them back in his head repeatedly as he slips on his pads and walks out onto the field on Friday nights.
“My grandma Ann passed in 2013, and then my mom’s mom passed on July 5,” he said. “And, I mean, at first I was down, but then I remember how they’d used to tell me to get up and football. Be successful. Build them a mansion and just make them proud, so that’s been my motivation since.”
Thrower acknowledges he hasn’t always had the easiest upbringing. He speaks soft-spokenly about how his family “moved all over the place” for a while, “living in struggle houses and all that.”
He files such experiences away in his mental rolodex so he can recall them whenever he gets short on motivation.
“I mean, I’ve always wanted to be the best player on the team,” he said. “It’s just in my head. I got that mentality to always be the dog of the team. Be the best hitter. Be headstrong, just everything.”