Momentum can be a wonderful thing in sports. When you have it, you feel invincible. Some teams can ride it all the way to a championship. The St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants – the last two World Series champions, come to mind. But momentum is fleeting. It can come from the smallest things and build at a furious pitch. It can also vanish in an instant.
Alcovy football learned this the hard way this year. After starting the season with two losses, the Tigers reeled off five straight wins. For half a season, they looked unstoppable. Then they lost what had made them so good. They finished the year 1-3 with their last two losses coming by a combined 52 points.
Looking back at their season, it’s easy to say Alcovy over achieved. In hindsight, they maximized the talent they had and put together a memorable season.
It all started with a win over Starr’s Mill in week three. That win — a decisive one at that, instilled some belief and the Tigers were able to carry it over the next week for a win over Union Grove in overtime. With two wins in the bank, Alcovy defeated Griffin and cruised past Ola the following week. Those four wins gave the Tigers the momentum they needed to put it all together against Jones County.
The two key wins were the overtime game against Union Grove and the 17-16 win over Griffin. Not only did those wins put the Tigers in control of their subregion, they fostered a confidence that they could play with anyone on their schedule.
Devon Edwards had a lot to do with Alcovy’s success. In each of Alcovy’s five wins, Edwards played an integral role. He shattered Alcovy season records for touchdowns, kickoff return scores and all-purpose yards. While football is the quintessential team sport, the Tigers would have never done what they did without him. It’s not absurd to say Edwards was one of the best players in the state across all classifications. He was a threat to score every time he touched the ball.
The thing with high school football is, you just don’t know how good you are until you make the playoffs. The disparity between playoff teams, especially the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds is often marginal at best. Case in point, throughout the five classifications in Georgia, half of the No. 2 seeds suffered the same fate Alcovy did. Twenty No. 3 seeds won playoff games Friday night and that was out of 37 games. Three had yet to play. In fact, five No. 1 seeds went down. In other words, just because you beatup on teams in your region, there’re no guarantees in the postseason.
That was never more apparent than Friday. Tri Cities was the better team. They had more weapons across the board and an experienced team full of seniors at key positions. Given the opportunity, it’s not unfathomable to say the Bulldogs could have beaten every other No. 2 seed in Class AAAA. They’re pretty good. But that’s high school football. You play who lines up across you regardless of talent.
Alcovy may have overachieved in 2011. Perhaps they played over their heads. It’s hard to say. As bad as the schedule setup for them last year, it played out perfectly for the Tigers this year. If they could get a couple of wins and find an identity, they had a chance to do something special. And that’s exactly what they did. In the end, the Tigers were one of 155 playoff teams that will have lost their final game of the season. That they didn’t win the school’s first playoff game is of little consequence. The Tigers did more with less than anyone though they would.
Edwards had a special season. Going forward, Alcovy will have to find a way to replace him. But you don’t replace players like him. Head coach Kirk Hoffman said as much after the game. Similar to what Git Aiken did at Eastside his senior year, Edwards carried his team. Like the Eagles found out sans Aiken, Alcovy will find out just how valuable Edwards was next year and beyond. Chances are the coaches already understand that. Regardless, Alcovy had a great season. Now the task turns to maintaining that success. To do that, the Tigers will need to fill a lot of holes. But they learned how valuable momentum can be. With that on their minds, they’ll enter 2012 with a renewed optimism. This year taught them anything is possible.