SEQUATCHIE COUNTY INDIANS
Coach: Chad Barger (20-14 here; 31-34 overall)
Returning starters (O/D/K): 6/7/2
Remember these names: Running back Jerry Fain (Sr., 5-10, 185) already has a 1,000-yard season and seeks another. He’ll need help from the likes of offensive linemen Austin Lamb (Jr., 5-9, 210) and Timmy Austin (Sr., 6-1, 255) and new starting quarterback Eli Stout (Sr., 5-9, 150). Other key players are linebacker Randy Grant (Sr., 5-8, 185), running back/linebacker Jake Pickett (Jr., 6-1, 185), wide receiver/free safety Rodney Smith (Sr., 6-2, 180) and tight end/defensive end Logan Simmons (Sr., 6-2, 210).
Will be a memorable year if: The Indians win the district or if they get into the playoffs and advance past the second round, something they haven’t done since 1990. They haven’t missed the postseason since Barger took over three years ago, and they won one playoff game last year. It might be easier with 18 seniors.
Aug. 19 York Institute
Aug. 26 Meigs County
Sept. 2 Grundy County*
Sept. 9 at South Pittsburg
Sept. 16 at Chattanooga Christian*
Sept. 23 at Marion County
Sept. 30 Bledsoe County*
Oct. 7 at Whitwell
Oct. 14 at Notre Dame*
Oct. 28 Signal Mountain*
* District 7-AA game
Last year Jerry Fain played third fiddle in Sequatchie County’s running ensemble, spelling school rushing leader Hunter Lewis and Justis Stewart.
Lewis, who ran for 1,471 yards with an 8.8 per-carry average, now is at Independence Community College in Kansas and, according to Sequatchie coach Chad Barger, is assured of a starting role. Stewart, who also graduated, totaled 1,113 yards.
The three-back attack, which included Fain’s 1,202 yards, pushed the Dunlap team to a whopping 356 rushing yards per game, a District 7-AA runner-up finish and two games into the postseason.
“I guess the load falls to Jerry, but we have Tyler Grant, and he reminds me a lot of Stewart,” Barger said. “And Shane Yother, who’s been our starting fullback the last two years, is back.”
Barger also likes quarterback Eli Stout.
“He’ll carry it quite a bit, and the kid’s hard to tackle in a phone booth,” the coach said.
Fain and Yother are two of 18 seniors for the Indians, who return six offensive and seven defensive starters. Barger’s biggest concern is depth at the skill positions.
Fain should be the showpiece.
“He shared the carries last year and he has the potential to have a huge year,” Barger said.
“This year there’s a lot more on my plate,” Fain agreed. “I need to step up as a leader, and I’ll need to teach the younger guys to listen.”
His personal goal is another 1,000-yard season, which would put him in a group of six Indians to contribute such a performance twice.
“It isn’t going to be easy, but I have confidence in the offensive line. I’d trust them with my life,” he said.
That group is anchored by Timmy Austin and Austin Lamb.
Fain’s goal for the team is to improve on last year.
“I think we can be up there as a contender. We have a lot of players and a lot of guys who know what to do,” he said.
The Indians have had three winning seasons, each with a playoff appearance, after suffering a 1-19 stretch in 2006 and ’07 before Barger arrived.
“It isn’t what I’ve done but the fact that the kids have bought into what we’re doing,” said Barger, who added four new assistants this year, including former head coaches Curt Jones (Central, Meigs County) and Sam Montgomery (Whitwell, Central).
It was 1990 and Sequatchie was on its way to a phenomenal 12-1 season. The Indians pulled off a one-point win over Marion County in week six to propel them into the playoffs with a 10-0 record. The week had been tumultuous with coach Sid Fritts’ stepfather getting killed, the school being closed and then reopened and the area’s National Guard unit receiving notification if was being activated for duty in the Middle East.
In a battle of top-10-ranked teams, Sequatchie escaped with a 7-6 win on a 3-yard run from Shane Kilgore and his ensuing extra-point kick. Brian Ruhling came up with a key stop on Marion’s two-point-conversion try that would have given the Warriors the lead. Also, Lewis Frizzell had a fumble recovery and an interception and 6-foot-7 tight end Trent Young pulled in six catches for 95 yards.
“Not too many people can say they’ve beaten Marion three times in four years,” quarterback Sam Hudson said in a postgame interview.
Added Fritts: “Our kids had to overcome a lot of adversity. I can’t tell you how proud I am of these guys. They left it all out on the field tonight.”
Ward Gossett is an assistant sports editor and writer for the Times Free Press. Ward has a long history in Chattanooga journalism. He actually wrote a bylined story for the Chattanooga News-Free Press as a third-grader. He Began working part-time there in 1968 and was hired full time in 1970. Ward now covers high school athletics, primarily football, wrestling and baseball and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling. Over a 40-year career, he has covered ...