Stephens County is one of the most notorious for playing past the regular season. After missing out in 2017 for only the second time in a 22-year span, the boys got back in 2018 after going 5-5 in the regular season under brand new head coach Wesley Tankersley. He’s back to do more damage this season. A new offensive coordinator comes in after Caleb Sorrells took over the Lumpkin program, but there are so many key players back from last year’s group that you can’t help but be excited about this team.
7 Things To Know About the Indians
1. Skill Guys Are Back
Last year featured a brand new lineup for the Indians, and the team gelled quickly. With little turnover, that means big-time playmakers like Hudson Spurlock (RB), Gamarion Carter (WR), and Kenny Colwell (QB) are all back for an encore.
2. Re-Working the Defense
While the skill players are back and many of the ones making noise return, the defense will need to rebuild in a big way. Eight of the top ten tacklers all graduated, including the top two. Gone are Charles Cochran and Grant Dye, Nikko Beady, Kamon Taylor, Victor Nicely, and Demarkus Knox. MJ and DJ Jones will shoulder much of the load this season, but other guys will have to step up.
3. Takeaways Will Be Crucial
With a young defense taking the field in 2019, the Indians will need turnovers. The good news is Spurlock and MJ Jones corralled three interceptions last year. The secondary will be in good shape, but the linebackers and D-Line will need to get after the football/quarterback and create havoc.
4. Who Makes Up Special Teams?
Stephens County will have to find replacements for kicker David Jimenez and punter Bryson Kent. Who will those players be? The good news is Spurlock should handle most of the kick return duties, and there are plenty of athletes on this team ready to help with kick/punt returns.
5. Pound the Ground
We saw decent balance last year out of the offense. We saw 150 pass attempts and 406 rushing attempts. That’s a good mix of using the passing threat to set up the run game. This equated to 151 yards per game on the ground and 94 per game through the air. Still, the Indians are pretty run heavy, and Colwell has proven he has the arm (1,000-yard passer) and Carter the wheels/hands to do some more damage. Colwell will need to become more accurate (38% completion, 7 INT), but is poised for a breakout junior season.
6. Not Lacking In Leadership
29 seniors make up a good chunk of the roster. That starts with Hudson Spurlock as well as DJ and MJ Jones. These guys will need to set the tone in 2019 by staying focused on and off the field, and being vocal leaders as well as leading by example. That means taking on humility, courage, respect, and passion that they can pass on to the guys coming back next year.
7. The Schedule Provides No Favors
Look at the 2019 slate, and take it in. Stephens County is set to take on a semifinals team (Athens Academy), a quarterfinals team (Rabun), three Sweet 16 teams (Habersham Central, St. Pius, North Oconee), and three first round teams (White, Hart, Oconee). That means 8 of the 10 opponents were legit ring chasers in 2018. Stephens still went 5-5 with that. How much better can they be in 2019?