BY DOUG GORMAN
There’s one simple word that has been a part of the East Coweta Indians football team over the last six weeks—believe.
It’s what got the Indians through some tough times early in the season as the squad began the year with an 0-6 record.
The Indians’ believing attitude finally paid off last week with a convincing 45-21 victory over Wheeler in a Region 2 7A game.
The win moved East Coweta to 1-1 in the region standings and left its playoff hopes very much alive.
The Indians have played one of the toughest non-region schedules in the state, including losing by a combined nine points in the first two game of the season after losing to Kell 36-34 and Carrollton 32-27.
A loss to Lowndes and and an overtime setback to North Cobb sent the Indians to an 0-4 start before also losing to McEachern and Westlake.
All Indians’ first six opponents have been ranked in the Georgia Sports Writers’ 10 at some point this season .
“We have been preaching since the off season that we are doing something different and we are going to play some tough people because we are trying to take our program to another level and we have to go through this process to get where we want to be,” East Coweta head coach John Small said.
Small said even during the frustrating losing streak the effort was always there.
“I can think of just one time where we had a bad practice,” Small said. “They came back on Mondays with a work-men like attitude. We have great leadership on this team and it showed. We told them there were brighter days ahead.”
Small said the losing streak was a good life lesson for his team.
“They are going to face adversity in life,” he said. “These kids have stayed the course and learned from this.”
Small said even during the losing streak there was no finger pointing.
“Everybody was taking ownership,” he said.
East Coweta got the victory last Friday after a stellar performance from senior running back Gerald Green who found the end zone six times, rushing for 272.
One of his touchdowns included a 75-yard punt return.
“We have been trying to get him going all year,” Small said. “He could have gotten frustrated, but he stayed the course. He is not really interested in personal stats. He cares about his teammates.”
Nathan Cronic had one of his best games as the Indians’ starting quarterback, passing for 152 yards.
“He is getting more comfortable and it showed,” Small said.
Cronic connected with four different wide receivers, including Brayden Carey who led the way for the Indians with 148 yards. The senior, who is committed to play football in the Ivy league at Yale, helped change field position by averaging 24.7 yards per catch.
The Indians enjoyed their first victory of the season over the weekend, but then put it behind them when they returned to practice on Monday to get ready for Friday’s region road game against Pebblebrook.
“The key this week is how are you going to handle success,” Small said. “You handled adversity. Now you have to handle success. It’s just a learning process for them and us as a program.”
Small knew his team was going to suffer through some growing pains early thanks to the tough non-region schedule, but he said it is going to pay big dividends down the road.
“It’s the toughest six-game stretch I have ever been a part of, but our kids never wavered. As a coach, you have to stay upbeat and positive,”Small said. “They have stuck to the plan.”
Pebblebrook comes into the contest with a 3-4 overall record and a 1-1 mark in region play.
The Falcons’ region victory came against Campbell in a 27-7 decision.
Pebblebrook has outscored its opponents 147-103.
A year ago, Pebblebrook beat East Coweta 35-28 on its way to a 6-5 record and trip to the first-round of the playoffs.
“Pebblebrook is a good football team, they beat us last year, but I have a lot of faith in this football team,” Small said.