For the seventh consecutive season Etowah will play a postseason football game and this Friday the Eagles will square off against a team they’ve never before faced.
Etowah (5-5, 3-2) will travel to Sharpsburg on Friday afternoon for a first round clash with East Coweta (5-5, 4-1). The Eagles enter the playoffs as the No. 3 seed out of Region 4AAAAAAA while East Coweta earned the No. 2 seed out of Region 2AAAAAAA. Despite never having met on the field, some information can be gleaned from multiple common opponents on this year’s schedule.
East Coweta defeated North Cobb 42-23 and Pebblebrook 36-6 while Etowah lost to North Cobb 42-10 and also defeated Pebblebrook 45-32.
“We happened to draw a really good team,” Etowah coach Dave Svehla said. “They played a really difficult non-region schedule and they’re one of the best teams from that area of the state.”
East Coweta’s record may be a bit deceiving, as three of the five losses came against Carrollton, Lowndes and McEachern, three of the best teams in the state and all ranked in the top five of their respective classifications. East Coweta has surrendered more points (260) than its scored this season (254) but in region play, the Indians are on a four-game win streak and have defeated region opponents by an average score of 37-17.
“We’re going to need to do two things,” Svehla said. “Number one, we can’t give up big plays. They have some guys on special teams and on the perimeter who have made big plays all year.
“Number two, we have to take care of the football. Every game we’ve turned it over multiple times we’ve lost. It’s ok to punt, and if we take care of the ball I think we’ll have a chance.”
East Coweta is led offensively by junior quarterback Gabe Gray, who has shown an equal willingness to run (372 yards, one touchdown) and pass (614 yards, four touchdowns) over the last few weeks. The Indians have spread the ball around this season, and will do so out of the shotgun offense using multiple wide receivers.
Despite the spread attack, the rushing game has been East Coweta’s primary weapon with senior Jayland Rivers and junior Jayden Bolton combining for 1,150 yards and 19 touchdowns.
Dalton Miller connected with Jackson Manns for two touchdowns last week against Roswell, and the pair have been Cherokee County’s best quarterback to wide receiver combination this season. Miller leads Cherokee County with 2,309 passing yards and 23 passing touchdowns while Manns leads the county with 53 receptions and nine receiving touchdowns.
Roswell lost last week to Roswell 48-14, but Svehla said the final score wasn’t indicative of how his team played. Heading into a win-or-go-home situation, the Eagles can’t afford many more mistakes.
“I’m excited,” Svhela said. “It is a little bit different this week, because you want to make sure your kids are as healthy. Three weeks of preseason and 10 weeks of the regular season, we want to be healthy but obviously want to be prepared as well. Finding that balance is a challenge.
“We’re through the grind of the regular season and hopefully it’s fun at this point. This is why you do all that work.”