Gridiron Preview 2021: Stephens County
The Indians were a playoff-caliber team in 2020, going 5-3 overall in a season shortened due to COVID complications with the school. That cost them not only 2 games, but a playoff spot that they almost certainly would have earned otherwise. 5 wins across 8 games was on pace to be the best season at Stephens County since an 8-3 2016 campaign. That said, 2021 has a lot of promise with what the team brings back and the things it learned about itself last season.
Head Coach: Wesley Tankersley, 4th season
2020 Record: 5-3; No Playoffs
“We expect to take the season one week at a time,” says coach Wesley Tankersley. “To compete against every team we play, and win!”
AUG 20 – White County
AUG 27 – @ North Hall
SEP 3 – Jackson County
SEP 10 – @ Madison County
SEP 17 – @ Habersham Central
SEP 24 – BYE
OCT 1 – Monroe Area*
OCT 8 – Franklin County*
OCT 15 – BYE
OCT 22 – @ Hart County*
OCT 29 – Oconee County*
NOV 5 – @ East Jackson*
*Region 8-AAA Game
Personnel & Schemes
Key Departures: Gamarion Carter (Vanderbilt), Jahari Burns, William Rudeseal, Kyle Watson, Javion Hightower, Corey Ibrahim
Key Returning Players: Ben Stowe, Kelton Cade, Vadole Fleming, Cam Lacy, Quanah Martin, Aaron Maxwell, Walker Thomason, Bryson Trimier, Armand Cunningham
Up & Coming Players: Javin Gordon, TJ Everett, Corey Richie, Aidan Butts, Cooper Dean, Bailey Stowe
“We expect a few new guys to really begin to step up in a new way this year,” says Tankersley. “Corey Richie, a JR WR/DB will take a larger role on O and D. TJ Everett will play a huge role at RB this year as a junior. Aidan Butts (TE/DE) and Cooper Dean (OL) are sophomores that we are expecting big roles for this season. Freshmen athlete Javin Gordon will also be someone we think can get in the mix on varsity this year as well.”
Offense: Pro-Style Offense. Ben Stowe emerged as the starting QB last season as a sophomore, and should grow even more into that role this season. The RB corps will include multiple guys like JR TJ Everett and SR Armand Cunningham, as well as FR Javin Gordon. Cam Lacy will be the go-to receiver, as he had over 30 catches last season and can take it to the end zone on any play.
Defense: 4-2-5 Defense. Senior DL Quanah Martin is a 3-year starter who has gotten even stronger heading into this year. Vadole Fleming (LB) is a fast and physical player, and one of the leading tacklers from last year. He will be heavily relied upon at OLB setting the end. The secondary will see Bryson Trimier, Bailey Stowe, Cam Lacy, and Corey Richie get the bulk of the time. All of them will be expected to play a huge role on defense as well as offense.
Trenches: Jahari Burns is a big loss here, but he’ll be replaced with 4 DL who all started multiple games last season. DE Quanah Martin and Aaron Maxwell, as well as interior linemen Nathan Walker and Raven Wilson make up that front 4. The O-Line sees some shuffle, but has 3 guys that started all games last season. The expectation is huge for center Ethan Westmoreland and guard Walker Thomason, as both are senior leaders. Westmoreland is a 3-year starter and Walker a 2-year starter.
Strengths & Areas of Focus
Strengths: ” We’ve got a lot of experienced players returning on the defensive side of the ball,” says Tankersley. “Nine players that started at some time or another last season on defense return. Having a QB return from a very good season with Ben Stowe is also huge.”
Focusing On: “Getting bigger and stronger,” states Tankersley. “The kids have worked very hard in weight room.”