Drive for the GHSA State Title: East Coweta at Carrollton Preview

This week’s Drive for the GHSA State Title matchup is between Carrollton and East Coweta, who will face off on Peachtree TV at 8 PM this Friday in Carrollton. Carrollton comes into this game 6-0 after their 56-28 victory against Hillgrove two weeks ago and the Trojans’ freshman quarterback Julian Lewis will have the opportunity make his first-ever televised appearance following a flawless start. Lewis has drawn significant attention throughout his debut and has handled the duties exceptionally well. The freshman phenom will have Bryce Hicks leading the backfield and head coach Joey King says Hicks is the most talented football player on the roster for his impact both running and catching the football. East Coweta is 4-2 after their 31-24 defeat to undefeated Lambert. Carrollton has a potent offense averaging 46 points a game, with their highest-scoring game coming against Gadsden City, Alabama, where they put up 69 points. A lot of it has to do with their unselfish receiving corps and one of their best players on the team Bryce Hicks. Carrollton coach Joey King shared his thoughts on what has allowed his offense to be so good this year.

We are very fortunate in the fact that we have multiple guys that we can get the ball to that can make plays. Those guys are doing a tremendous job. We don’t have one guy who is going to have all the catches and all the yards and all the touchdowns. We believe in spreading it out and trying to take what the defense gives you. Those guys have done a good job of embracing that and not get selfish. Sometimes those receiver rooms are tough to deal with, but our room is really solid. They are all team guys.”

“Bryce has been exceptional. He’s probably been our best football player. He can play corner, safety, nickel, running back, receiver, or wherever we want to put him. He’s just a football player. He is going to make some college look like a really good coach one day,” said King. “Once he looks at the game plan, he is ready to go. I’m excited to have him healthy and playing as well as he is as a junior.”

Coach Small talked about the strategy on defense going into the game and some things the defense needs to do to slow down that high-powered offense.

“We’ve got to be sound in what we do and know where we are supposed to line up. We got to play some coverages and mix some things up. You have to try and get the quarterback off-balanced, not sacking per se but getting him to pat that ball a couple of times and taking away throwing windows,” said Small. “You know, make him have to go to the next read, and then that will allow us to get some pressure. We’ve been able to pressure this year with four guys which we can drop seven that we feel good about.”

A position group that will be vital in this game is the East Coweta offensive line led by Aaron Finnemore. It has made the Indians great in the passing game and on the ground this season.

“It starts at the center position with Aaron Fenimore, whom I think is one of the best offensive linemen in the state. He’s just a phenomenal player and a physical kid,” said Small. “That kind of bleeds over to everybody else. They try to play like he does. Those guys up front have done a phenomenal job allowing us to run and throw it.”

It will be essential for East Coweta to continue to create time for their quarterback Christian Langford and not allow him to get rattled. The sophomore quarterback is continuing to show flashes of brilliance in games. In both of their losses, East Coweta turned over the ball five times in each game. Carrollton has produced two shutouts in their last three games and has already created a four-touchdown game on defense.

“I think we are a really good football team when we don’t turn the ball over. In our two losses, we turned the ball over five times each game, and that’s a recipe for not a very good result,” said Small. “When we protect the football, I think we are a dangerous football team. When you give the other team the ball, and they capitalize on it, you are not going to win many games.”

“We emphasize it, and we want our defense to score. We are trying to take the ball away every play. Those guys have bought into it and kind of feed off each other,” said King.

Brady Tillman is a player to watch on offense for East Coweta. Getting the ball in his hands will allow East Coweta to get things going offensively and open up the passing game. The senior is having a breakout year averaging 100 yards a game receiving and has 11 touchdowns. Tillman also just started playing football last year.

“He came out his junior year and played with us. Tillman can run, has great ball skills, and just plays with a lot of confidence. He’s faster, stronger, and understands the offense,” said Small. “It’s been great to see him grow and develop. It’s been great for our younger kids to see a kid like him grow and develop that stuck with it. In terms of offers, he is going to visit Georgia this weekend. His best years are ahead of him. He hasn’t even scratched the surface yet, which is crazy to say.

Among the players to watch in this game is certainly Carrollton’s Lewis, who has thrown for 1,598 yards and 23 touchdowns and is one of the top college prospects as a freshman. Running back Bryce Hicks has 927 yards from scrimmage this year. East Coweta’s sophomore quarterback Christian Langford has 1,430 yards and 18 touchdowns this season. This region two opener in 7A is one of the best games in the state this week. Carrollton is 4-0 all-time against East Coweta, with their latest victory in 2019. Carrollton won 33-3.



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