Etowah will return home Friday in search of its first win, facing a North Forsyth team off to an impressive start to the season.
The Eagles (0-2) lost 38-7 at River Ridge last week in a game where the Eagles’ offense struggled to move to the ball. They could only amass 44 total yards, and new coach Matt Kemper said this week was about simplifying the offense.
“This is the process,” Kemper said. “Certainly, we didn’t play our best football and we’re still feeling ourselves out offensively. We’ve got a sophomore quarterback, so we’re trying to simplify the reads. We’re pretty inexperienced on the offensive line, too. We’ve got to do everything we can to regroup and refine.”
Several younger players saw action in the second half against River Ridge, including sophomore running back Luis Martinez and freshman running back Elijah Washington. Martinez is the team’s leading rusher so far this season (9 car., 57 yds.), while Washington finished with a team-high seven carries for 31 yards against River Ridge. Washington could see more action moving forward.
“He’s going to be a heck of a ballplayer,” Kemper said. “He’s got a lot of gifts, physically. He was our scout team player of the week last week, and he’s been earning some carries.”
North Forsyth (3-0) will come to Etowah following a 28-14 win over Hapeville Charter, which entered last week’s game ranked No. 6 in Class AAAA. The Raiders also beat defending Class AAAAAAA state champion Harrison in Week 2 and should pose a significant challenge for Etowah this week.
“They’re about 80-20 run,” Kemper said of North Forsyth. “They’re big and physical and they play to those strengths.”
Leading the way for North Forsyth has been the senior duo of quarterback Brady Meitz and running back Jared Lucero. Meitz has completed 65% of his passes (32-for-49) this season while tallying 396 yards and three touchdowns.
An excellent athlete, Meitz is also a threat on the ground with team-high three rushing touchdowns. Lucero is the team’s leading rusher with 31 carries for 148 yards, but the Raiders have been balanced as four different players have amassed at least 16 carries.
Defensively, linebacker Patrick Corrigan leads the team in tackles, tackles for loss and sacks. He earned preseason all-state recognition along with Meitz and so far this season looks to be the centerpiece of the North Forsyth defense.
Kemper said the next two weeks will be important for Etowah before the Eagles begin play in the newly aligned Region 5AAAAAAA. Etowah is scheduled to play No. 9 North Cobb next week.
“I’d like to see us be able to move the football. Put first downs together and execute,” Kemper said. “You watch us on tape and it’s always one guy away. We feel like there’s a lot of good, we’re just young.”