In high school, athletics are an extension of the classroom. Lessons are taught that supplement the curriculum that is the cornerstone of education.
On Friday night, the East Coweta Indians added a splash of statistics to the lesson plan in their game with the Lowndes County Vikings.
The Vikings traveled 220 yards to learn that offensive coordinator Kelby Holt's system, executed by quarterback Christian Langford, can put up numbers in big chunks at a rapid pace.
When the dust cleared in Garland Shoemake Memorial Stadium, senior wide receiver Brady Tillman had five touchdown passes, all from Langford. To add complexity to the lesson, Tillman returned the favor and threw a touchdown pass to Richardson.
While all six touchdowns were impressive, three came at critical game moments.
The Indians faced a third-and-16 from their own 21-yard line on their opening drive.
Knowing this was a game where you needed touchdowns instead of field goals, Tillman lined up in the slot, snuck out undetected and caught a touchdown pass from Langford for the opening score.
The second critical score came on the last play of the first half. After a fair catch by Kaleb Harris, the Indians had the option to go with a free kick to end the half, but Indians Head Coach John Small felt it might be too far out.
Instead, Langford found Tillman open on the right flat, and when Tillman finished, he had run through all 11 members of the Vikings defense to complete the 44-yard touchdown play. It gave the Indians a 28-13 lead.
Lowndes County scored on their first possession of the second half and appeared ready to take control of the game when Richardson swung a lateral back to Tillman, who then passed it back to Langford for the 24-yard score. That play seemed to take a little bit out of the Vikings.
Tillman caught two more touchdowns, and Dionte Jones scored a rushing touchdown.
The final offensive numbers were staggering. Langford completed 21-of-28 passes for 362 yards. Tillman finished with eight catches for 201 yards, and Jayshon Teagle had nine for 99 yards. The offense finished with 508 total yards.
On defense, linebacker Cosby Ellis was just as impressive. He finished with nine tackles, two behind the line of scrimmage, and two quarterback sacks.
After the game, Coach Small spoke of the unselfish play of his receiver group.
"We preach to our kids to play without the ball in your hand because you never know when you will get it,” Small said. “You could have ten catches one week and none the next. So getting them to be unselfish and block is what we are about."
Coach Small also shared some insight into pivotal play before the end of the first half. "We had five seconds on the clock, so we took a shot,” he said. “We were playing to win and be aggressive. So it worked out because our kids made a play."
The two teams played each other back in the 2019 season in week three, a 27-3 win for the Vikings. Since that night, the Indians under Coach Small have gone 26-10 and won two state playoff games.
Next week, the Indians face the undefeated Lambert Longhorns at home. The game, which is the East Coweta homecoming, will start at 8 p.m.