By Chris Goltermann
The days of the traveling salesman may have long reached their peak, but this year’s East Coweta football team would most likely thrive in such a setting.
The Indians have been persistently been knocking on doors all season long.
The hope on Friday against yet another very good opponent is that East Coweta can finally kick the doors down and celebrate a long-awaited first victory on Homecoming Night.
On the heels of a 51-30 loss to Westlake that kept the Indians in waiting for at least another week, they’ll now host a Wheeler team that is bent on ruining someone else’s Homecoming after being the recipient of a 38-36 loss in last Friday’s Region 2-7A opener against Newnan.
More importantly, neither lineup wants to risk falling to 0-2 in the region standings in what expects to be a tight race among six schools for four state-playoff berths.
The Wildcats trailed 17-0 against Newnan before roaring back in the second half in a game that ended on a turnover off a pass reception inside their opponent’s 30-yard line.
East Coweta’s fate was similar against an athletic Lions lineup that built a 23-7 edge in the third quarter before the Indians twice tied the game. Westlake pulled away in the final seven minutes and scored a meaningless touchdown with five seconds remaining in a game that was closer than the final score.
“We had a chance there at the end. Our kids fought their tail off and they’re still in it,” Indians head coach John Small said. “They’re going to face another good football team and all our hard work up to this point, it going to start paying off. We believe that.”
Some of East Coweta’s trends through a winless start don’t expect to stop this week. Led by senior quarterback C.J. Ogbonna, who was 21 of 30 passing for 329 yards and five touchdowns, Wheeler brings skill as an atypical Homecoming opponent.
A turnaround under head coach Michael Collins, now in his 14th year with the Wildcats, had Wheeler (5-1, 0-1) taking its first state-ranking in 20-plus years into last week’s game after going winless against 2-7A schools a year ago.
“They’re a much-improved football team from last year. Coach Collins has done a heck of a job up there and I think they’ve finally settled into what they want to be and that is throwing the ball,” Small said. “They live on the big play and they’ve got guys that can go and make it.”