COVINGTON, Ga. — Chris Edgar was pretty blunt about the last bit of football he saw from his Alcovy bunch against a real opponent.
“The last quarter of football we played pretty much stunk,” Edgar said.
The good thing about such honest assessments is that it provides the third-year Alcovy coach with an opportunity to Get real about his expectations for his team when it takes the field against the Rockdale Bulldogs (0-1) in a 7 p.m. kickoff Thursday night at Sharp Stadium.
“I’m looking to see how we bounce back,” Edgar said. “Are they willing to come back and do the things they have to do to get a win? Start fast. Have confidence early. Get the run game going first, and then the passing game.”
That last stinky quarter in question is the third quarter in Alcovy’s weather-shortened 37-3 loss to Newton last Friday. In that game, Alcovy saw a 10-3 deficit turn into a rout by the time the game was called at the 1:13 mark of the third quarter due to lightening.
The weather woes continued for Alcovy into the new week of practice. Already tasked with navigating a short week, Monday’s practice was forced into the gym due to more lightening strikes, and Wednesday’s practice was called off because of excessive heat.
“It’s been a difficult process this week,” Edgar said. “We normally bring our guys in on Sunday to watch some film, but this week we had to make sort of a Monday-Sunday combination with both film and install so they could see what they’re going to be looking at from Rockdale.”
For that reason, Wednesday became more of a full-scale practice, instead of the traditional night-before-a-game walkthrough.
“We kind of padded up (Wednesday) so we could get some more contact action going before Thursday night,” Edgar said.
And what he saw from his team — from a psychological standpoint — pleased him.
“Their spirits are good,” Edgar said. “They understand that last week we had opportunities we didn’t take advantage of. Mental mistakes. But despite that, I think we held a pretty good Newton team to 60 or so yards rushing. The bulk of their passing plays, and even that big kickoff return, came on busted plays. We felt like we hung with them physically for the most part, and the good thing about mental mistakes is that you can correct those a lot easier than physical deficiencies.”
One particular player Edgar is hoping can add a little spark to the Alcovy offense is wide receiver MJ Stroud. Both Stroud and Eric Johnson missed the Newton opener due to injury, and Edgar said their presence was sorely missed in a passing game that only mustered 63 yards on four Nick Simmons completions.
“Two of the guys penciled in at receiver last week who got the lion’s share of work with Nick in the offseason didn’t play, so you had some guys out there not used to being those positions,” Edgar said. “And then part of it was the mental mistakes. We were missing some reads. Had a scoring opportunity where the snap goes over the quarterback’s head. But I think we’ll be fine. It’s just going to take timing and being on the same page, which comes with time.”
Edgar said Johnson would likely be a game-time decision.
As for Rockdale, the Bulldogs also had a rough start to its 2018 campaign, dropping a 27-13 decision to Eagle’s Landing last Friday. But Edgar isn’t sleeping on his second straight Class AAAAAAA opponent — one that used to be a mainstay on Alcovy’s schedule before the last three years when these programs last played.
“As long as we’ve played Rockdale, going back to 2006 when we were in their region for a long time, we know they’ve always got athletes,” Edgar said. “They’ve got some dudes, starting with their quarterback, and that speed receiver they have in David Baros, they’ve got some guys who can go. Coach (Jamie) Baldwin’s doing a great job and will have them prepared. They’ll hit you with two tight ends one play, then come out with five wides, chucking it all over the field.”
And if history is any indicator, Thursday’s matchup — the first between the two schools since 2015 — should be a good one. Both teams have split the all-time series at three games apiece, with Rockdale winning the last two meetings.
But with both teams nursing season opening losses coming into this matchup, Edgar knows Rockdale’s chip on their shoulder will resemble that of Alcovy’s.
“We know they’re over there at Rockdale saying the same things we’re saying here to our guys,” Edgar said. “So we know both teams will be looking for some redemption, and both of us should be ready to play.