COVINGTON, Ga. —Chris Edgar isn’t much for bulletin board material.
But as the second-year Alcovy football coach began preparing for the Tigers’ Region 3-AAAAAA tilt with Grovetown Friday night, he couldn’t stave off a flood of memories from last year’s game that stoked some of his competitive fire.
After jumping out to a fast 4-1 start in 2016, Alcovy felt like it had momentum coming into region play. Those feelings proved to be misleading once the Tigers traveled to Grovetown to play the Warriors.
The game was a rout to the tune of 34-0. But along with the beating Alcovy took, Edgar remembers an incident in the game’s immediate aftermath that he admits, “stuck in my craw a bit.”
As the teams lined up for the customary postgame handshake, one Grovetown player emerged holding a poster with a picture of a crying tiger. And while Edgar understood it was just a situation of a teenage kid being a teenage kid, he also wanted to make sure this 2017 version of Alcovy football remembered it as well.
“I reminded our guys of that,” Edgar said. “I didn’t appreciate that. I told them this game is kind of personal.”
But personal for bigger reasons than just some silly postgame poster. The personal nature of Friday night’s 7:30 p.m. home kickoff against Grovetown extends into reasons that have far more important implications to this year’s team.
After last year’s hot start, Alcovy dropped all six five of its final games — all region contests — by a combined score of 133-21. A 10-7 season ending loss to Greenbrier was the only region game Alcovy didn’t lose by at least three scores.
Now, after another solid non-region start to a football season, Edgar says the Grovetown game has been a focus since the summer, not for personal revenge, per se. But more for personal validation.
“From the beginning, this game has been penciled in,” Edgar said. “Because it’s a region game. Last year we were physically manhandled by most of the teams we played in our region, Grovetown included. Now that we’re back to region play again, this is our chance to see what kind of gains we’ve made and to see if all that hard work has paid off.”
In Grovetown (2-3), the Tigers will face a team that can be complicated on offense, if not explosive. The Warriors’ offensive attack can, at times, be option heavy, but it’s also what Edgar says is the epitome of a multiple offense.
“They’ve got a big physical running back, and then a speed guy,” he said. “It’s like thunder and lightening. And then they operate a two quarterback system, where they have a runner who can throw it and a thrower who can run it. They mix a lot at you.”
Those two signal callers are seniors Jahmar Bingham and Taylor Youngblood. Youngblood is more the thrower, passing for 529 yards and two scores through five games. While Bingham has rushed for 104 yards to go along with his 195 passing yards.
In addition, tailbacks D’Angelo Durham and Shamar Cofield combine for 457 rushing yards and six touchdowns while averaging six yards per carry. But the physicality isn’t just on the offensive side of the ball.
Defensively, Grovetown boasts the talents of 6-foot-1, 220-pound inside linebacker, Greggory Rodgers, II. Rodgers has an offer from Cornell, but also has picked up interest from the likes of Alabama, Arizona, Akron and Ball State.
Edgar says Rodgers is a key cog in a “physical D that likes to put the pads on you.” But in the same breath, he believes his Alcovy front line has improved enough to bang with Grovetown.
“We’re stronger, for sure, than last year,” Edgar said. “our offensive line, I think those guys are gelling every week with what we’re trying to do, and I think we’re doing it at a pretty good level.”
He specifically called the names of junior linemen, Gavin Fletcher and Marcus Perdomo — players Edgar said are the vocal leaders in the trenches who are making it easier for junior quarterback, Cameron Anderson to feel comfortable behind pass protection.
“Whereas the first couple of games we had breakdowns in pass protection, I think we’ve gotten better there,” Edgar said. “As a result, Cam’s making better choices and he’s trusting in his line more, which means he can stay in the pocket a little longer and make better throws.”
Another plus for Alcovy, after dominating Forest Park last week, is, aside from lineman Andruw Binion, there are no major injury issues, which is exactly what Edgar hoped for in the beginning of region play.
“Right now we’re healthy,” he said. “But now we’re starting region play, going on the road for five weeks after this game. Then the question will be, ‘Can we stay healthy for the next five weeks?’ I think that’s going to go a long way in our success.”