CONYERS, Ga. -- There's something about Alcovy and Rockdale County schools this year that seem to bring out the Tigers' clutch gene. Last time Alcovy played a Rockdale school, the Rockdale Bulldogs, it won 25-19 in overtime.
Friday night at Salem was just as thrilling, sans the extra period of play, as Alcovy took care of business in regulation, albeit in comeback fashion, with a 23-20 win against the Seminoles. Now with back-to-back bye weeks to prepare for a September 28 trip to Class AAAAAAA No. 1 Colquitt County, the Tigers will carry some momentum and perhaps a greater understanding of who they are as a team, thanks to what we learned from Friday night's win.
1. Run, run, run the ball is Alcovy’s best success formula. The Tigers are a running football team. It has been apparent in all four games this season. I’m not saying they can’t pass the ball because they have solid young talent at wide receiver that just needs to gel, and two good-armed quarterbacks in Jaelen Campbell and Nick Simmons. However, their bread and butter is clearly running the football, primarily behind Natorien Holloway, who has gone over 100 yards three times this season in four games, and Andrae Robinson. Campbell is the better runner of the two quarterbacks, but Simmons is scrappy and competitive enough to make the offense go in his own way. Regardless of any of that, run the ball.
2. The defense is a stingy group. Yeah, they have allowed a lot of yards against teams like Eastside and Newton, but in the first half of those games, as well as their two wins, the defense has shown just how physical and fast they can be. They have three or four guys on the football constantly. If the opposing offense finds a way to get past guys like Jalen Banks and Jacob Wade, they’re going to have to deal with some incredibly athletic defensive backs like Bryson Wilcox, Cameron Daniels and La’Ken Nettles, but not before fending off linebackers like Logan Wyatt and Demetrius Thrower. This defense has been a big factor in the Tigers 2-2 start.
3. Mistake-free football is key. In the first game against Newton, several mistakes kept the Tigers out of the game entirely. Fast forward to Friday night against Salem, and Alcovy seems to dwindle the number of mistakes down each week they play. While they did commit two turnovers and a few penalties against the Seminoles, they were able to recover. However, the fewer critical mistakes they make, the more success they can potentially have, especially in their region games coming up.
4. The Tigers are in great shape to head to the playoffs. I know we’re only four weeks in, but with two non-region wins already, the Tigers are in fantastic shape heading into their region games soon. Region 3-AAAAAA is not full of any powerhouse football teams, and this year several of the squads that have given Alcovy fits in the past are seemingly a bit down this season. Alcovy has all the momentum in the world. If it can get three wins in that region, it could come out at 5-5 and still be able to make the playoffs, something they are trying to do for the first time since 2013.
5. Edgar and his team seems to thrive in dramatic finishes. We saw it against Rockdale, where an offsides penalty forced the Bulldogs to re-kick, and subsequently miss an extra point that would have won them the game. The Tigers would take that game in overtime. Once again, against Salem, it took a dramatic 13-point comeback and a last second pass break up for the Tigers to steal the victory. I don’t know what it is about this team and their apparent will for wild games, but I do know that some Tigers supporters and coaches may have some gray hairs by the end of the season.