DALTON, Ga. — In this case, the stats are only part of the story, but they're a good starting point.
What's obvious is that Trevor Brown and Nich Bartley form one of Georgia's most prolific quarterback/receiver combinations. The Christian Heritage School seniors have connected 38 times for 753 yards and 10 touchdowns through six games, helping propel the Lions to a 5-1 start in their second year of GHSA competition.
The duo's success isn't the result of crazy off-the-charts athletic ability. Brown is 5-foot-9; Bartley is 6-foot. Neither runs a 40-yard dash in much under 4.8 seconds. When asked to explain their prowess, the two used the same key word.
"We've always been together," said Brown, who has thrown for 18 touchdowns and whose 1,430 yards ranks him fourth in the state, according to Max Preps. "It's just a chemistry thing. I know when he's going to run his routes and when he's going to make his break and what he's going to do if he's not open. I have a lot of trust in him."
Added Bartley, whose yardage total puts him atop the state's leaders list: "I know he trusts me and I take pride in having that trust, so I want to make every play I can. His accuracy is his biggest strength, and his arm has gotten stronger. We just know each other so well."
Of course it helps to be part of an offense that features multiple looks, uses the no-huddle almost exclusively and can ramp up the pace when warranted. Third-year head coach Preston Poag, a former Dalton High and North Carolina State quarterback, said Brown and Bartley are a perfect fit for his system.
"Nich and Trevor transferred over here from North Murray the year I got here, and there's no telling how many passes they've thrown together," Poag said. "It's just like the other night against Gordon Lee (a 35-0 win). They knew we were going to throw a comeback to Nich, and they covered it pretty well, but we completed it anyway because those guys are so good with each other."
While the passing game gets all the attention, the Lions actually are a very balanced offensive team. Poag and his staff aren't afraid to change course during a game if the defense warrants it.
"Everybody thinks we throw it all the time, but we're very balanced," Poag said. "Some teams try to stack it in there, so we're going to throw it in that situation. Other teams come in and plan to take away our two receivers, so we have to run it. The good thing is no one has been able to take everything away yet."
Christian Heritage, which was 5-5 and missed the playoffs in its first season in GHSA, is coming off the most impressive win in its short-lived GHSA history and tonight faces a Darlington team that is annually among the state's best. The Lions have gotten the attention of the rest of Region 6-A, but what would a win against the Tigers do?
"Last week was the biggest win since I've been here, and this week would be even bigger," Brown said. "It would be something special if we could knock them off."
Added Bartley, as if finishing his quarterback's thought: "People wanted to see how well we could play against Gordon Lee, and now that they've seen that they want to see if we can play with Darlington. If we win this week, we'll really catch the eye of a lot of people."
Contact Lindsey Young at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 423-757-6296.
Lindsey Young is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press 24 years ago. He covers the Northwest Georgia prep beat and NASCAR. Lindsey’s hometown is Ringgold, Ga., and he graduated from Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School. He received an associate’s degree from Dalton Junior College (now Dalton State) and a bachelor’s degree in communications from UTC. He has won several writing awards, including two Tennessee Sports ...
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