Alexander's Army Powers Through to the End By Will Loveless
Every year there is one team in high school football that surprises many. Class A has had its share of these teams this year, one of which was our very own Spartans. Following the departure of Coach Michael Gunn, the program faced uncertainty. The program continued down this unsure path after last year’s 4-5 record, in which the Spartans narrowly missed the playoffs. Fortunes, however, have a funny way of turning. Athens Academy hired former Archer Offensive Coordinator Josh Alexander and the team hasn’t looked back since.
The Spartans were able to finish the regular season 9-1, with the only loss coming to top-ranked Prince Avenue. The Spartans were able to get some revenge on teams such as Lakeview, Athens Christian, and Commerce, as well as help put an end to Hebron Christian’s playoff hopes after starting a two-game losing streak for the Lions that cost them their playoff position.
The team has had its share of leaders throughout the regular season. Senior players, such as Drew Richardson, Wyatt Settles, and Will Corry, provided valuable leadership and their share of statistical contributions. Richardson passed for nearly 1300 yards on the year as well being the leader rusher with nearly 900 rushing yards. Richardson managed to find the endzone in some form or fashion, whether it be through the air or on the ground, 24 times this season. Wyatt Settles has been much of the backbone for the defense this year. Settles, playing linebacker, had 47.5 tackles which led the team as well as an interception that helped seal a 21-13 win over George Walton in the final game of the regular season. Will Corry was able to make huge contributions on both sides of the ball. Corry ran for 604 yards, averaging 5.4 yards a carry as well as finding the endzone on the ground 9 different times this year. Corry also had 42 tackles, 8.5 of which were tackles for loss and forced and recovered a fumble.
The seniors weren’t the only stars this year, though. Underclassmen support was key to the success of the team in the regular season. New students Ed Ferguson and Payton Bowles proved to be weapons on offense. Ed Ferguson led the team in receiving yards with 301 on the year and found the endzone three different times in this manner. Ferguson was a very steady workhorse on defense with 18 tackles on the year. Payton Bowles, a freshmen, was able to make a statement early on in the year before an unfortunate injury sidelined him for much of the season. In the five games Bowles played,he ran for 361 yards averaging 15.7 yards a carry and found the endzone five different times. Bowles provided an extra weapon early on and it’s exciting to know that the Spartans have a weapon for at least 3 more years. Jacob Hudson, Matt Mosley, Owen Roberts, Rolf Reynolds, Frankie Sinkwich, and Jackson Reynolds also all were major contributors to the team this year and help to provide a bright future for a program that has faced so much uncertainty. The Spartans earned themselves playoff spot and home field advantage due to their stellar regular season performance. As the number 6 seed the Spartans played host to the Christian Heritage Lions from Dalton. Unfortunately, the Spartans fell to the LIons in an extremely close game 22-14. Christian Heritage manage to control the ball for nearly the double the amount of time the Spartans did, which proved to be the decision maker for the season. A full season recap will be featured in next month’s issue of the Spartan Review