Pedal to the metal
The Indians last won more than two games in a season in 2005. It's a fact Chad Brewer knows all too well, though the energetic third-year coach sees it far differently than most.
Brewer, like any coach, knows success is judged from the outside based on wins.
It's how a win is defined, though, where Brewer differs.
"We've got 82 kids who worked out yesterday," he said early in preseason practice.
He had less than half that many when he took his first Murray County team out to the practice field.
MURRAY COUNTY INDIANS
Murray Field at First National Bank Stadium, 1001 Green Road, Chatsworth, GA 30705
Driver’s seat: Chad Brewer (3-17 in two years here and overall)
Road tested: 7 offensive, 8 defensive starters return
Route ’15: After winning just five games from 2006 to 2012, the Indians have started the climb back to respectability with three wins the past two seasons. Coach Brewer has a small senior class, but grades 9 through 11 are well represented, including nearly 70 players. Making the playoffs in tough 6-AAA might be a difficult goal, but Brewer and company have every reason to believe the Indians will add to the win total this year.
Taking the wheel: As camp opened, junior Dominick Genitempo, who had limited action in 2014, was the favorite to be the starting QB, but sophomore John Hunter Reed was making a push. Genitempo is also the team’s leading returning tackler, having made 69 stops at free safety a year ago.
Cruise control: The Indians’ spread attack will not be short on playmakers. Sophomore Tucker Gregg has good size (5-10, 190) and speed, and he will be a threat in the backfield and out wide. He and senior Drew Morgan are two of six players expected to play some at receiver. The team’s biggest threat may be 6-4 junior TE Braden Weaver, a mismatch for most defenses.
Pump the brakes: The big question for the Indians heading into the season is how to replace graduated QB Justin Smith’s 1,700 yards and 11 touchdowns. The Indians lack size in the lines, with junior right tackle Margarito Gutierrez (6-3, 260) easily the biggest.
Backseat driver: A rival coach said of the Indians, “You could tell playing them last season that things are starting to turn around. They play hard every play, and Coach Brewer has them on the right track.”
2014 game results
Aug. 29;Southeast Whitfield;lost, 22-21
Sep. 5;Fannin County;lost, 55-7
Sep. 19;Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe;lost, 26-20
Sep. 26;North Murray;lost, 39-13
Oct. 3;Coahulla Creek;won, 21-14
Oct. 10;Adairsville;lost, 49-6
Oct. 17;Gordon Central;won, 20-14
Oct. 24;Calhoun;lost, 56-3
Oct. 31;Ringgold;lost, 43-0
Nov. 7;Sonoraville;lost, 48-6
2-8, 2-6 in Region 6-AAA
On the horizon
2015 schedule (all times 7:30)
Aug. 28;at Southeast Whitfield
Sep. 4;Fannin County
Sep. 18;Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe
Sep. 25;North Murray
Oct. 2;at Coahulla Creek
Oct. 16;at Gordon Central
Oct. 30;at Ringgold
Nov. 6;at Sonoraville
Region 6-AAA games in bold
"Our numbers are up and they're staying up, which shows progress," he said. "That was our first goal, and we've accomplished it. To me, that's a huge win."
He's also getting kids to stick around. Though the team has only 12 seniors, and only Trey Burnett will have played all four years, that number should balloon in the next two years.
"This junior class coming up has about 14 of those guys," Brewer beamed. "That's when you're going to see a program turn around, having those guys who've been around for four years. We should have even more than that down the road."
The next step may be more difficult. Brewer believes getting a signature win could propel Murray County back into annual contention as it did another northwest Georgia program.
"I talked to (Calhoun coach) Hal Lamb and asked him what got them over the hump," Brewer said. "He said they beat Cartersville one year and had no business doing it, and that really got them going. We've got a big win coming, and maybe that will give us the huge snowball effect we need to get Murray back on the map consistently every year."
Capsule by Lindsey Young; contact at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on Twitter: @YoungSports22