There aren’t many teams who can return only one starter on offense and expect to still contend from one year to the next. But most teams aren’t the Stephens County Indians.
New head coach Wesley Tankersley, who carries 65 career wins in 10 seasons as a head coach (Gilmer 2008-14; Ridgeland 2015-17), was excited to have the opportunity to take the job in Toccoa, a program that recently was named by the AJC as one of the top in Class 4A in wins in this century (since 2000).
“It was an honor for me,” says Tankersley on taking over the program. “You know that it’s a great tradition and you want to be able to uphold that.”
The Indians are getting a coach who has led his teams to back-to-back region titles at Ridgeland, including an 11-1 season in 2017. That group scored 46 points per game and allowed just 9 points per contest — the best of both worlds. Tankersley admits he more of a defensive-minded coach, but has high praises for offensive coordinator Sonny Spurlock, who has coached in multiple state championships.
“Honestly, I don’t know if you ever know,” says Tankersley on how long it will take for the Indians to turn into a juggernaut. “It’s sometimes up to that senior class, how well they adapt, those sorts of things. They’ve done a great job so far of being committed to doing what we’ve asked them to do and working hard.”
Stephens County might take a little while to get there, as Tankersley said he hopes that the first six non-region games allows the young group to get the wrinkles out and prepare for the region slate. However, it might not take long to start getting the wins, as they dual-QB system will be in effect this season with Hudson Spurlock and Kenny Colwell getting snaps.
“Both of them have different strengths,” says Tankersley on his two quarterbacks. “So we’re trying to use those strengths to our advantage, and that hopefully gives other teams something else they have to prepare for. We feel comfortable with both of them, and Colwell can play running back as well.”
“That’s definitely a different thing,” says Tankersley. “My philosophy is to go in every day trying to get better. We’re trying to win the day, so hopefully that keeps us from getting complacent.”
Stephens County travels to Franklin County on Friday night in Week Zero, and the new-look Indians are ready for a new chapter in their history.
“You’re going to see a hard-hitting football game,” says Tankersley about Friday night. “We’re both going to be ready to go…a physical game. If we can cut down on our mistakes, we should be successful.”