MURRAY COUNTY INDIANS
Coach: John Hammond 0-0 (here and overall)
Returning starters (O/D/K): 2/2/1
Remember these names: Lineman Blade Lequire (Sr., 6-4 255) is the biggest and most physical player on a small and young team. Adrian Brinkman (Sr., 6-1, 180) is one of few seniors and will be required to show leadership as a running back and outside linebacker. Lequire and running back Jake Born (Sr., 5-10, 175) are the two most experienced players. Quarterback Brady Todd (Jr., 5-10, 165) will handle many responsibilities after getting into a few games late last season.
Will be a memorable year if: The rebuilding Indians can show continual weekly improvement, regardless of the results on Friday nights. It’s very likely they will have several more losses than wins. They can have only dreams of the playoffs.
Aug. 26 Southeast Whitfield
Sept. 2 at Dalton
Sept. 9 at Heritage
Sept. 16 at LaFayette
Sept. 30 at Pickens*
Oct. 7 Allatoona*
Oct. 14 at Cartersville*
Oct. 21 Gilmer*
Oct. 28 Cedartown*
Nov. 4 Region play-in game
* District 7B-AAA game
Current basketball coach and former football assistant Greg Linder still may not have dried off from one of his fondest memories.
He coached the defensive line in 2000 when the Indians beat Atlanta’s Booker T. Washington 14-13 in the second round of the Georgia playoffs.
“A hurricane came all the way up and we got an absolute downpour, sheets of rain pouring down sideways,” Linder said. “We knew it was going to rain, so we just ran and ran and ran the ball. You couldn’t see across the field.”
Quarterback Joel Statham and running backs David Bejar and R.J. Feely each had more than 1,000 rushing yards that season, which ended against Shaw in the quarterfinals.
Coach John Hammond knows the situation at Murray County, and he’s not shying away from it.
“We’ve been in a slump the last few years,” the Indians’ first-year coach said. “We split schools and [North Murray] is establishing their identity and we want to re-establish what we used to be, and that’s a physical and fundamental football team.”
Hammond, the fourth boss in six years, has been an assistant since 2002 and was promoted in the offseason to head coach for the first time in his life. It’s a little more time-consuming than being an assistant.
But he loves it.
“It’s a lot more time spent on little things that you have to deal with,” Hammond said. “You’re worrying about kids, eligibility, making sure everybody has a physical, ordering equipment and the like. There’s something you have to constantly deal with.”
Right off the bat he’ll be dealing with a team stocked with underclassmen and eight seniors. Only four are returning starters. So he’s starting from square one — blocking and tackling.
“We’re going by the K.I.S.S. method, and I’m not talking about the ’70s rock band,” Hammond said. “Once they catch on to one thing, we’ll move on and make it a little bit harder. We can’t out-coach ourselves, especially on the fundamental side.”
The Indians have not had a winning season since 2005, when they went 7-4 and reached the Georgia Class AAA playoffs. Hammond envisions a program that routinely reaches those achievements.
“Hopefully in the years to come we’ll build year after year and get back to where this school used to be a regular playoff contender,” Hammond said. “I’ve heard stories from coaches and players who were here for playoff runs. That’s what we want to get back to.”
David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...