Posted: Monday, August 13th 2012 at 9:38am
Football 2012: Lumpkin still building, eying bigger prizes
By Morgan Lee Editor
DAHLONEGA -- Last season Tommy Jones led the Lumpkin County football program to its second straight winning season -- the first time the Indians had done so since 2002-03.
In fact outside of the 2000-03 era, the Indians had not posted two straight campaigns over .500 in 50 years -- until 2011-12.
“Last year was big,” Jones said. “It wasn’t as good as we wanted; we want to get to the playoffs. But I think the program has gained a level of respectability in the area.”
This season the Indians want to elevate even further and clinch their first postseason berth since 2003, but they know it won’t be easy after climbing classifications to Region 8-AAAA.
“We’re moving into a region with a whole lot of athleticism,” Jones said, referring to a league that will include former Region 8A-AAA rivals Chestatee and Stephens County, as well as unknowns like Eastside and Madison County.
Lumpkin County must also replace a handful of standouts from last season’s team, including quarterback Logan Moye, defensive end B.J. Dorsey, nose guard Lee Cagle (who led 8-AAA in tackles in 2011) and WR/RB/DB Ian McIntosh (who averaged over 8 yards per carry in ’11).
“There are certain kids you can’t try to replace, you just try to make up for the production with groups of players,” Jones said.
And the Lumpkin County coach believes this year’s team has the ability to do just that.
“We don’t have any real superstars, just a bunch of blue-collar guys who do their jobs,” Jones said. “They have a real good chemistry.”
The Indians also have what could prove to be a stout line of scrimmage, including three returning starters on offense in seniors Tyler Flatt and Zach Kile and junior Caleb Stepp.
“They should provide the nucleus for the offense,” Jones said.
That’s good news for a new starting quarterback in Daniel McCrary, a junior who has grown up playing in the Indians’ multiple style of attack and a player that Jones is very comfortable in putting under center.
“He’s heady, smart and a good distributor,” Jones said. “He’ll get us lined up correctly every down and knows what play we’re supposed to be in.”
McCrary will be aided by a running back corps that includes sophomore Gunner Wood, junior Nic Cochran and sophomore Bradley Womack -- a group that is likely to split carries throughout the season.
McCrary also has two standout receivers in junior Jonathan Gilreath and senior Mitchell Stephens. The duo also figures to star on defense, where the Indians feature a strong secondary that also includes Wood.
The linebacker position should also be steady, led by senior Logan Head in the middle -- a two-year starter. Senior John Webber will also feature and has plenty of game experience.
Like its offensive counterpart, Lumpkin’s defensive line should also be a strength, as senior Daniel Horvat, sophomore Garrett Gray, Flatt and Brian Roberts each play key roles in the Indians’ 3-5 base.
Perhaps the biggest key for Lumpkin 2012 is staying healthy.
“Our numbers are increasing -- our senior class is definitely our smallest class, just 10 guys -- but we still don’t have a huge amount of depth,” Jones said.
LUMPKIN COUNTY: NEED TO KNOW
TEAM COLORS: Purple and Vegas Gold
CURRENT REGION: 8-AAAA
HEAD COACH/RECORD AT SCHOOL: Tommy Jones, seventh season, 25-35
2011 RECORD/ACCOMPLISHMENTS: 6-4
KEY LOSSES: WR/RB/DB Ian McIntosh, DE BJ Dorsey, QB Logan Moye, DL Lee Cagle (130 tackles)
OFFENSIVE STYLE: Multiple -- Lumpkin County will look to take advantage of what defenses give it. The Indians want to balance the run and pass but will go with what is working on a given night.
KEY OFFENSIVE PLAYERS: Jr. QB Daniel McCrary, Sr. OL Tyler Flatt, Sr. OL Zach Kile, Jr. OL Caleb Stepp, Jr. WR Jonathan Gilreath, Sr. WR Mitchell Stephens
DEFENSIVE STYLE: 3-5 -- Lumpkin fields a pressure-oriented defense that will blitz on occasion.
KEY DEFENSIVE PLAYERS: Sr. MLB Logan Head, Sr. LB John Webber, Sr. DL Daniel Horvat, So. DL Garrett Gray, So. DB Gunner Wood
SPECIAL TEAMS: Sr. K Chase Slocumb, Jr. P Daniel McCrary
STRENGTH: The line of scrimmage, on offense and defense, should be a strength of this year’s squad. Meanwhile, McCrary is a very knowledgeable and steady signal caller for someone without any varsity starting experience. The secondary should also be ready for the challenge.
QUESTION: Depth. Coach Tommy Jones says his overall numbers are increasing but that his senior class is definitely the smallest group on the team (10 members). Lumpkin will hope to stay healthy, especially early, as they look to build depth.
KEY GAMES: The Indians face old rival White County in a non-region contest on Sept. 7 in Cleveland. The Region 8-AAAA schedule opens with familiar foe Monroe Area (Sept. 21, away) -- a team Lumpkin was 0-3 against in Region 8-AAA. The Indians get three straight home region games (Oct. 12, 19 and 26) against Madison County, Eastside and Chestatee. If Lumpkin can take care of business in that slate, it may be in prime position to reach the postseason when it travels to face Stephens County on Nov. 9.
TRENDING: The Indians have made themselves into a strong program that no team can take lightly after posting back-to-back 6-4 records. In fact, outside of a 0-10 record in his first season, Jones has made Lumpkin into a .500 team (25-25 outside of 2006). Now the Indians want to take it a step further and reach the playoffs for the first time since 2003. Jones knows it won’t be easy to do so after moving up in classification but likes the mix of players he has at his disposal.
Aug. 31 vs. Dawson County
Sept. 7 at White County
Sept. 14 at West Hall
Sept. 21 at Monroe Area
Sept. 28 at Walnut Grove
Oct. 12 vs. Madison County
Oct. 19 vs. Eastside
Oct. 26 vs. Chestatee
Nov. 2 at Lanier
Nov. 9 vs. Stephens County
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