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Player of the Week: Kevin Ellison

POSTED: September 12, 2011 8:11 p.m.

Habersham Central senior quarterback Kevin Ellison helped the Raiders complete a stunning comeback from an 18-point deficit when he fired the game-winning touchdown pass to Zack Franks with just 32 seconds left in a 43-39 win over Salem.

Ellison finished the game with 23 carries for 125 yards and four touchdowns, and completed 8 of 12 passes for 146 yards and the final-minute touchdown pass to Franks.

For his efforts, Ellison is The Times Player of the Week.

“He’s been playing great and leading the offense,” said Habersham Central coach Stuart Cunningham. “He plays a vital role in our success and he’s been filling that role as good as he can.”

Last year was Ellison’s first at the head of Habersham Central’s triple-option offense. He ran for 1,159 yards and 13 touchdowns and threw for another 387 and three scores.

If the next few games look anything like last Friday for Ellison, last year’s stats will be obliterated by mid-season.

“We know the offense a little bit better than last year and we lost only one senior offensive lineman,” Ellison said. “Things go a little bit easier than last year.”

Ellison has been leading a high-scoring and highly successful Raiders offense in three consecutive shootouts.

So, the game with Salem was just another Friday night in what has already been a roller coaster season for the Raiders (2-1, 2-1 Region 8-AAAA).

A 4-6 team last year, Habersham Central upset Apalachee 38-35 at home to open the 2011 season. Ellison ran for 231 yards and scored four touchdowns on 22 carries to lead the way. The senior was also 3 of 7 for 58 yards passing.

The following week at Cedar Shoals, the Raiders let a big first-half lead slip away, and fell 41-34. The Jaguars won because they kept Ellison and the rest of the Raiders out of the end zone in the second half. In the first two quarters, the quarterback had scored four touchdowns and ran for 192 yards on 12 carries.

At least in terms of balance, Ellison eclipsed his first two performances on Friday, when his passing game finally caught up to his ground game.

Ellison has worked to improve that aspect of his game, something he has worked on ever since transitioning from running back, where he started as a sophomore.

“I feel like that does complete my game,” Ellison said. “I feel like that’s a big advantage we have being able to throw the football.”

Now more of a dual threat, Ellison has 13 total touchdowns through just the three games in a season that is shaping up to be a special one if the signal caller and his Raiders teammates keep up their early momentum.

“I feel like we’ve all come together as a team,” he said. “We want to play like we used to, get those region championships back, get to the playoffs every year. With this team here, we’re able to start doing that kind of stuff.”

This team’s biggest test yet could come Friday, as the Raiders travel to face defending region champs Clarke Central in Athens.


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