Etowah has won the first three games of the season for the first time since 2008. That season, the Eagles finished the regular season 9-1 before falling to Lassiter in the first round of the state playoffs.
The start is also the best, by far, for second-year Eagles coach Dave Svehla, who went 1-2 against the same three teams in 2012. A year ago, Etowah turned that start into a 4-6 record.
While having seniors at many key positions is certainly an asset for the Eagles, that isn’t the biggest change to Svehla. He believes a lot of the improvement has to do with the players having been in his system for a full year.
Looking into next week, Etowah will begin Region 5AAAAAA play at Wheeler (2-1), which means every game counts from here on out.
Meanwhile, Cherokee coach Josh Shaw said that if his team was going to lose, Friday night would the right time to do it.
“From here on out, we need to win four of our next seven games,” Shaw told his team following their 34-27 loss to North Forsyth. “We start a new season this week. To be successful in that season, we need to win four of the next seven games. Then, anything after that is just bonus.”
The new season begins at Lassiter (1-2).
“We need to go in there and give Lassiter all they can handle,” Shaw said. “We lost this one, and we leave this loss here (Friday night). On Monday, we come back in and we are looking ahead, and not back.”
River Ridge coach Robert Braucht won’t be looking back on his team’s loss either. The Knights fell to Ridgeland and, just like last season, are 0-3. But the 2012 campaign didn’t go too badly for River Ridge, which won five of its next six games, made the Region 7AAAA championship game and reached the first round of the Class AAAA state playoffs before falling to Grady.
“We are just trying to continue to improve,” Braucht said. “I think that we are doing that.”
The Knights’ offense certainly appears to be improved. In their season-opening loss to Sequoyah, they were shut out into the fourth quarter and finished with seven points. In Week 2 against Creekview, the Knights scored 19 points and lost by just one. Against Ridgeland, they put up 14 points against a defense that hadn’t allowed a point all season.
Still, Braucht said his team isn’t focused on the numbers as much as it is on improving. He feels that will translate to better results on the field.
“We don’t have as much depth as some of the other more established programs,” Braucht said. “We are just going to do the best that we can in our situation. That’s all we can do.”
After enjoying their bye weeks, Woodstock (1-2), Creekview (1-1) and Sequoyah (1-1) will all return to action this week with region games. Woodstock will host Walton (1-2) in Region 5AAAAAA play, while Creekview will play at Kell (3-0) and Sequoyah is at Riverwood (3-0) in a pair of Region 7AAAA crossover games.