“It’s kind of always your goal to make it to where time changes and it gets dark on you at practice,” Crowder said. “It gets cold and you kind of know that you have met some goals if you have done that.”
As Creekview prepares to host East Paulding in a first-round Class AAAAA playoff game tonight, Crowder is pleased with where the team is. The first-year Grizzlies coach said there’s uncertainty any time a coach moves into a new position.
Fortunately, his players quickly put that to rest for him.
“We came in and there were only two (returning) starters on offense and two on defense,” Crowder said. “We had a sophomore quarterback, and to now be the subregion champions and finish 8-2 and have a home playoff game — I’m really pleased with what has taken place.”
Now the coach who won a state title with Chattahoochee in 2010 is eyeing his first playoff run with a Creekview program that has yet to win a playoff game.
In order to take the next step in that run, the Grizzlies will have to beat a tough East Paulding squad.
The Raiders (7-3) lost close games against Rome and South Paulding to finish as the No. 3 seed out of Region 5AAAAA. The Spartans have used a stout defense, which has given up more than 20 points just three times — all losses.
“Even though East Paulding was the third seed, they were by far the best team on defense in that region,” Crowder said. “They finished first on defense and their front seven are really, really good.”
Fortunately for Creekview, it hasn’t had much trouble putting points on the scoreboard.
Even when the offense has sputtered, the defense has picked of the slack. With 28 interceptions on the season – six of which have been returned for touchdowns — the Grizzlies are skilled at changing the momentum in the blink of an eye.
Crowder feels there are several reasons for the success of his defense against a passing attack.
First, many of the defensive backs also play wide receiver on offense and therefore have good hands and know what to look for in routes. Second, Creekview has often gotten in front of opponents quickly and forced teams to put the ball in the air in order to catchup.
If the Grizzlies are able to get out in front East Paulding, which prefers to run the ball, they could see some opportunities pick off passes.