COVINGTON, Ga. — Through the first three games of the season, Alcovy football coach Chris Edgar, if he wanted to save his breath, could’ve recorded his first postgame speech to his team and played it again for each of the last two weeks.
The messages have been that similar.
In Alcovy’s first three games — a 37-3 loss to Newton, a 25-19 overtime win against Rockdale and a 35-7 setback to Eastside — Edgar’s been a broken record that sounds a little something like this:
“You know, I told them in the closing huddle against Eastside, if we eliminate our mistakes, the scoreline would be completely different,” Edgar said. “I told them we’ve got to get focused and get ready to go.”
When you look back at Alcovy’s first three ball games, a lot can be said about the points left on the field due to those aforementioned miscues — many of which Edgar maintains have been wholly self inflicted.
Honing in on the Rockdale game could provide a perfect snapshot of what Edgar’s frustrations have been.
In that Rockdale game, Alcovy incurred:
- A stalled first drive after a 43-yard gain by running back Natorien Holloway put the Tigers in the red zone. The drive ended with a botched snap on a field goal attempt.
- Another stalled drive after back-to-back 20-plus yard Holloway runs where a trip to the red zone resulted in a touchdown instead of a field goal.
- A fumble and loss of six yards after a run placed them with a 3rd and short situation.
- After a Logan Wyatt interception that placed Alcovy on the Rockdale side of the field, the next play was a snap that went over quarterback Nick Simmons’ head for a loss of 15 yards, basically halting a potential scoring drive.
- A 55-yard Andrae Robinson run that was negated by a needless holding penalty that happened away from the play.
Some of those same foibles plagued Alcovy a week later against Eastside, although the Eagles’ swarming defense holding Alcovy to 298 yards of total offense had a lot to do with it too. But Edgar said the key to correcting those mistakes lies in his players’ want-to.
“It’s gotta be important to them,” Edgar said. “They’ve gotta be on time, locked in, ready to study film and be coachable.”
To his team’s credit, Edgar said he saw exactly that this past week in preparation to travel to Salem at 7:30 p.m. Friday night. The Seminoles are another Class AAAA squad — in Eastside’s region, in fact — that will test the Tigers with a well-coached mentality and plenty of next-level talent.
And while no one can tell what’s going to happen on the field ahead of time, Edgar said his bunch has practiced with the urgency of knowing that a win against Salem can set some wind back in the Tigers’ sails as Region 3-AAAAAA play inches closer.
“They came in and were ready to go,” he said. “I told those guys it’s a great opportunity for you. Salem is a great team, and it starts first off with the head man, coach (Jarrett) Laws. He came there after having lots of success at other places like Griffin, and brought a team that was kind of dormant to the playoffs last year.
“They’ve got some guys on that team who are good and make plays and are getting noticed because of it. Champ Bailey’s son is there, and other guys who have lots of offers. They’re a talented team. But I tell my guys, if you line up across from them and make plays against those guys, what does that say about you?”
As Edgar and his staff evaluated and re-evaluated some of his playmakers, the coach seemed to be more settled on his choice for quarterback going forward.
“Jaelen Campbell is going to start for us (against Salem), and we’re gonna ride with him,” Edgar said. “And if we need to bring Nick in, we’ll bring Nick in. Just like The running back position with Andrae (Robinson) and Nate (Holloway), we’ll kind of go with who’s got the hot hand.”
Here’s our complete breakdown of tonight’s county border war clash.
The Matchup: Alcovy Tigers (1-2) vs. Salem Seminoles (1-1). Both teams are coming into the game smarting from a loss. Alcovy’s 35-7 setback to Eastside last week has fueled the Tigers to pay closer attention to detail, while Salem’s 23-6 loss to a Class AAAAAA South Georgia power at Coffee helped them to see that the gap between the ‘Noles and some of the elite of the state may, indeed, be closing.
The When and Where: Friday September 7, 7:30 p.m. at Salem High School, 3551 Underwood Rd., SE, Conyers.
The Key Players: Despite some imperfect play and two losses in its first three games, the Alcovy Tigers’ offensive identity is beginning to take shape. Edgar knows his size will be an advantage for him, particularly up front offensively. Natorien Holloway and Andrae Robinson have proven their prowess at tailback is no fluke. Campbell being tabbed as starter seems to further cement the Tigers’ desire to be a power running team. Defensively, Jalen Banks and Logan Wyatt are powering the front seven.
For Salem, it’s skill talent galore with guys like Omarious Burnam, Makari Pruitt and quarterback Donald Wilson. Defensively, Artemus McCorkle is a force in the defensive backfield, already with two interceptions and a pair of pass breakups this season.
Alcovy wins…(At the risk of sounding like a broken record) If it can sustain and finish drives with touchdowns, keep away from halting potential scoring drives with too many self-inflicted mistakes and force a couple of Salem turnovers. It’s the same keys to victory as last week.
Salem wins…If it jumps out to a fast start early and overwhelms the Tigers with its skill position speed. Also, if the Seminoles can continue to keep the trend going of forcing Alcovy into mistakes — particularly turnovers — and capitalizing on them.
The Prediction: On paper, it’s easy to pick Salem because of the talent, and even because of how it performed in a loss to Coffee. But with just two games under their belts, we still haven’t seen a ton of the Seminoles this year to know exactly what this team’s ceiling or potential is. Meanwhile, although you can see the talent increasing at Alcovy, it’s hard to pick the Tigers in a game like this until they put it all together on the field a bit more consistently. But for today, we won’t go with what some may consider the easy pick. Alcovy gets on track tonight, limits the mistakes and rides its run game to a win. Score: Alcovy 27, Salem 21.