COVINGTON, Ga. — Chris Edgar was distracted by something in his hand, even as reporters were peppering him with questions about his Alcovy squad’s thrilling 25-19 overtime win against Rockdale Thursday night.
He looked down at a piece of paper that had a bunch of numbers on it, and he smiled as he counted out loud.
“What is that, 360, 370,” Edgar audibly asked himself. He was talking about rushing yards. And the correct answer was 390, as in the amount of run-game offense generated by a suddenly emerging big three in Alcovy’s offensive backfield.
Running backs Natorian Holloway and Andrae Robinson rushed for 148 and 145 yards respectively, while quarterback Jaelen Campbell tacked on 97. All of the Tigers’ touchdowns came on the ground, and even as reporters were trying to track down the trio of ball carriers to get their thoughts on their big rushing night, Alcovy offensive line coach Zack Davis interrupted with a moment of clarity.
“You guys better go and find that offensive line and talk to them too,” Davis while in mid-celebration, just moments after his front five cleared enough real estate for Robinson to push his way in for a 7-yard, game-winning touchdown.
The five linemen who got most of the work Thursday night— none of them weighing anything less than 270 pounds — were gathered for postgame pictures while hoisting Robinson and Holloway on their shoulders in an equal parts photogenic and microcosmic display of how Alcovy snatched a win from the Bulldogs from Rockdale County.
From left to right, Jimmy Argueta. Leo Daugherty. Chris Simmons. Marcus Perdomo. Gavin Fletcher.
Remember those names as you track Alcovy’s fortunes this season. Holloway most certainly will.
“I mean, it ain’t about us,” Holloway said. “It’s not about the ball carriers. Without the offensive line, we wouldn’t have had nowhere near 100 yards. Big shout out to them. They’re brothers, man. Brothers for life, man.”
Coach Davis calls them something else, according to Edgar.
“Coach Zack Davis collectively calls them The H.E.R.D.,” Edgar said. The acronym stands for Heart, Effort, Relentless and Determination. All of those characteristics were on display Thursday night, Edgar said.
“I’m so proud of coach Davis and what he’s doing with that offensive line,” Edgar said. “It’s finally starting to come together as a cohesive unit. When you’ve got Nate (Holloway) going for 148 (yards), Dre (Robinson) for 145 and a quarterback with another 90 behind that line, that’s a lot. That’s a lot to stop. It has been a diligent process.”
Were there still mistakes? Sure. In fact, Edgar found himself having to make some line shifts and adjustments after a couple of bad snaps. And then there were a few too many holding penalties and a couple of false starts thrown in. But it’s an old-school brand of football that Edgar knew coming in three years ago would be what was needed for the Tigers to compete in a rough-and-tumble Region 3-AAAAAA, full of big bodies and tailbacks.
Thursday against Rockdale — particularly in the second half — was a sample size of what the coach hopes becomes a mainstay in his team’s identity.
“Once we felt that we were getting those three-and-four-yards-a-pop plays against Rockdale, we knew we were gonna start breaking the big runs,” Edgar said. “We knew they were getting tired, and as electric as our ball carriers are, we knew it was a matter of time. Really, just our whole offensive staff did a fantastic job.”
Alcovy’s next test will be another formidable foe in Eastside. Forget the Class AAAA moniker the Eagles carry. Even if some of the bodies are smaller, Edgar knows his team has had to live down the reputation of getting “out-physicaled” in the past, even against teams some may think shouldn’t be able to.
But his line and his backs are ready for the ongoing challenge of shifting that paradigm.
“What we were able to do (Thursday night) was only the beginning,” Holloway said. “The win, the playoffs, state, all of that. It’s not just (the running backs). It’s a team thing. We know we got a tough one against Eastside next week, so we know we’ve gotta grind.”
“We’ll be getting ready for a big war next week,” he said. “And hopefully we’ll show up better against Eastside than we did in our last rivalry game.”