We’re a little over 24 hours away from the kick off of the 2017 football season, and we’re going to start off with a bang, as all three Newton County GHSA high schools will open their seasons, starting Thursday, with three consecutive home openers.
Newton’s up first when it hosts Drew on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. Alcovy will welcome Duluth on Friday night and Eastside will face off with Luella on Saturday at 7 p.m.
Each team had a chance to work the kinks out in scrimmages, and we’ve given our personal takes and analysis on each in our “Five Things” segments.
Lastly, in this piece, we’ll look at the five things learned from Alcovy’s scrimmage this past Friday at Miller Grove.
1. Alcovy’s offensive/defensive line were up for the challenge. For what has been billed as more of a weak spot on this team, the Tigers’ undersized trenchmen were aggressive and tenacious against a bigger Miller Grove squad. But more important than that, they were effective. Alcovy’s offensive line got steady push during the first half when both schools’ top units faced off. The line paved the way for several impressive runs by do-everything player, Quindrelin Hammonds, and it also gave quarterback Cameron Anderson time to make plays from the pocket, including a beautiful 30-yard touchdown pass early in the first quarter. There were doubts after watching the Newton’s d-line shred through Alcovy’s o-line like a hot knife through butter. But Alcovy coach Chris Edgar put even that into perspective.
“That’s a pretty good Newton team over there,” Edgar said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if they went on to do some good things this year. But as for us, there’s a great difference between what we had up front in the spring and what we have now.”
2. Quindrelin Hammonds plays bigger than he looks. He’s listed at 6-feet, 170 pounds, which actually looks accurate. But the way he played against Miller Grove made him seem much larger. Hammonds has been a “slash” player for Alcovy for most of his career, having played everything from quarterback to receiver and defensive back. On Friday he saw extended time at running back, and he impressed. Beyond his speed to get him to the corners, Hammonds showed he could run between the tackles effectively to get tough yards. He had two such runs on back-to-back drives against the Wolverines, where he ran up the gut and drug about four or five Miller Grove defenders with him while picking up close to 10 yards on each carry. That toughness will bode well for the Tigers, especially when region play comes.
3. Cameron Anderson is a natural leader at quarterback. After splitting duties with Hammonds during his sophomore year, the 6-foot-1 junior has the job all to himself in 2017. A solid summer on the 7-on-7 circuit helped Anderson build rapport with his receivers, while aiding him in deciphering coverages and going through his progressions. He’s got a good cast of talented skill guys around him, and an improving offensive line. But he’s also got the intangibles as well. During summer workouts and fall practice, Anderson could be regularly seen encouraging and coaching up his teammates. Hammonds himself, a senior, testified to Anderson’s leadership ability. Look for a solid 2017 from Anderson which could set him up for a true breakout year as a senior in 2018.
4. The Tigers are just plain feisty. Which could be good or bad, depending on how its channelled. It’s good if Alcovy uses its edge to ward off the temptation to be intimidated by bigger, stronger teams, particularly those Augusta squads that populate Region 3-AAAAAA. It’s bad, though, if that feistiness isn’t checked and balanced with the proper discipline. Edgar mentioned how several lapses in discipline last season — most due to being overly aggressive — caused his team to surrender scoring opportunities to opponents. Some of those same miscues showed up against Miller Grove.
5. Expectations at Alcovy are elevated. How’s this for elevated expectations: “We are on this field to win a region championship.” That was Edgar’s no-bones-about-it statement he gave to his team in the post game huddle last Friday. And there seemed to be no one wearing an Alcovy uniform who doubted their second-year coach. It’s a refreshing thing, actually. As some coaches who lead a program that’s toiled in the kind of futility Alcovy has experienced pre-Edgar would be skittish about setting such lofty expectations. But from the beginning, Edgar’s goal has been to change culture and bring Alcovy back to winning standards. Year one was a bit of a success in that standpoint. Now, soon we’ll see what the Tigers will do for an encore in 2017.