HIAWASSEE, GA – The 2017 Towns County Indians bears an uncanny resemblance to the 2016 version.
At the bye week, Towns County has a 2-4 record, just like in 2016. The wins were the season opener over Hayesville, and then Riverside Military. Just like in 2016. The losses were to George Walton, Prince Avenue Christian, Athens Academy, and Hebron Christian.
Just like in 2016.
One difference has been the emergence of Zach Davenport as a playmaker. The senior has accounted for nine out of the 14 total touchdowns this season, including all five in a 35-21 victory over Riverside Military on September 15. Coach John Cornett has used Davenport in a variety of formations. Davenport is lined up in the tailback of the traditional I formation, but he’s also been utilized recently as a wide receiver as Cornett sought to diversify the offense.
The defense has made some strides. Towns has been in every game, except for a 53-13 demolition at the hands of Athens Academy on September 22. The Spartans raced out to a 53-0 halftime lead and then sat on things in the second half. The Indians turned two turnovers into scores to cut into the lead.
But Athens Academy was the aberration, and you can look no further than the Prince Avenue Wolverines to prove the point. In 2016, the game resembled this year’s Athens Academy. Prince Avenue blitzed out to a 47-0 advantage before Towns got some late scores against the second team. In 2017, the result wasn’t as one-sided. Towns gave up one touchdown a quarter in a 28-0 defeat. Preseason All-State wide receiver Christian Parrish caught three of those scores from Grant Boland.
The defense has some playmakers. Offenses are actively running away from senior linebacker Logan Cowart. Jake Parker, Luke Woody, and Jeremy Mays have been effective on the line. Where the Indians have been coming up short is in the secondary. Passers like Boland have used medium range passes to stretch out the defense.
But the offense hasn’t followed suit. Trent Bradshaw is a junior and is in his second full year running the squad. The Indians will never be an air it out attacking squad, but Towns has had trouble finding consistency with the passing attack. Bradshaw has gotten more comfortable, but the threat of a pass has not materialized.
Cole Ledford has accounted for some highlights this year. The senior has a kickoff returns for a score against George Walton as well as a rushing touchdown versus Hayesville. However, he was hurt during a return against Riverside and sat out Athens Academy before returning for Hebron Christian. The bye week came should allow him to recover fully.
But Ledford may not be the only one who needed the time off. “I am glad we had the bye,” said Cornett via e-mail. “Our players are beat up a little and need a break. We have to get better at everything. Our primary focus will be concentrating on playing all out for four quarters.”
The four games to complete the regular season will feature two tough matchups to start off. As part of a three-game Hiawassee homestand the Indians will play Athens Christian and then Commerce. The Eagles are 1-4 in the region but started out the campaign by losing to Prince Avenue, Athens Academy, and Commerce in successive weeks. As for the Commerce Tigers, they are in the top ten regular in the public-school side for Single A.
After those two, Towns wrap up the home slate by hosting Lakeview Academy for wrapping things up with Providence Christian in Lilburn. A split in these four is certainly doable.
Then things would rest with the Power Ratings formula, which is how Class A slots the playoffs. Twenty-four teams enter, and Towns currently sits at #25. They started at number 13 and have gradually slid down the rankings. A 4-6 mark could be enough to sneak the Tribe into the postseason.
Last year, Towns went 1-3 in this stretch to end the year with a 3-7 mark. Getting that extra win would be a great way for the Indians to break tradition and move forward with some momentum.