1028ClermontAud1 John BradyClermont City Council candidate John Brady discusses his plans for office.
That team is the War Eagles of Chestatee.
"If we do what we are coached to do to the best of our ability, no one will beat us but us," Chestatee coach Stan Luttrell said. "So far that’s been true."
Luttrell said he has already seen his team beat itself once this year, turning the ball over six times in a 43-14 loss to Flowery Branch on Sept. 28.
"Flowery Branch didn’t beat us," he said. "We beat ourselves with the six turnovers. Obviously Flowery Branch is a good football team, but I’m trying to take the focus off of who we are playing."
No Chestatee player or coach would go as far as to say they would have won the game were it not for the turnovers, but all agreed the score would have been a lot closer.
"If we hadn’t have had those fumbles against Flowery Branch, I know it would have been a good game," Chestatee running back Jo Jo Sweet said.
If the War Eagles (5-1, 1-0 Region 7A-AAA) end up beating themselves this week, White County (3-3, 0-1) will get the credit. Chestatee plays host to the Warriors in its homecoming game tonight at War Eagle Stadium.
The Warriors are the first real test for Chestatee in subregion play and pose the biggest threat to taking away a playoff spot from the War Eagles.
Before losing to North Hall 49-7 last week, White County was on a three-game winning streak. The Warriors’ three losses came against the region’s three perennial leaders (North Hall, Gainesville and Flowery Branch).
White County nearly upset the Red Elephants in Week 2, losing 21-19.
"This is definitely a big game," White County coach Gregg Segraves said. "It will be more than an uphill battle (if we lose). We are probably eliminated (from playoff contention)."
White County has already matched its win total from 2006 (3-7, 2-3), but the Warriors are hardly satisfied.
Before the start of the season, White County’s players and coaches made a list of goals for 2007: push each other, play hard each play, and overcome adversity.
The final goal: "Make the playoffs," Segraves said.
All of those goals will come into play when the Warriors line up against the War Eagles, who are also not satisfied with what has already been a historic season.
Chestatee reached five wins faster than any other War Eagles team and beat Gainesville for the first time in program history.
If you ask any Chestatee player, that does not make this season a success.
"I think once we play North Hall, once we win out and go to the playoffs, then we’ll have something to hang our hats on," Sweet said.
But without a win tonight, much of that might not be possible.
Chestatee’s defense will have the task of stopping White County’s versatile running game while not ignoring the threat of a deep pass.
The Warriors backfield is led by senior Eli McCallister, but also features senior Jesse Brown, who has missed most of the season with an injury.
"This is as healthy as we have been all season," Segraves said. "Having Jesse back with Eli will really help the running game."
Senior Tyler Norman will start at quarterback for White County but will split time with junior Chantz Segraves for a change of pace.
Both Norman and Chantz Segraves have targets in Brandon Vaught, Josh Ingram and Drew Crumley, all of whom can stretch the field vertically.
"We know they run the ball 90 percent but will pass it 10 percent," Chestatee linebacker Chase Vasser said. "We are just making sure our defensive backs don’t bail on the pass too early, making sure everyone knows what they are doing."
In its three wins, White County’s defense held its opponent under 14 points. But in its three losses, the defense gave up 21 points or more.
With the offense averaging 12.7 points per game, the game could be dependent on how well the Warriors play on defense.
Since the loss to Flowery Branch, the War Eagles have looked impressive on both sides of the ball.
Chestatee’s defense managed to shut out Gainesville’s big-play offense in the second half of the War Eagles’ 35-19 win and allowed just 5 yards rushing against East Hall last week.
"We aren’t just an offensive team," Luttrell said. "We aren’t just a defensive team. We are a team. ... That’s what good teams do. It takes a total team effort."
Chestatee’s offense looks to be as difficult to stop as any in Region 7-AAA. The War Eagles are averaging 37.1 points per game and have scored more than 40 points in four games.
"Our offense is on fire right now because its not just one person doing all the heavy-lifting," Sweet said. "It’s everybody."
Sweet leads the Chestatee’s backfield trio that also includes quarterback Ethan Souther and running back Ben Souther. All three are capable of running for over 100 yards on any given Friday night.
Like White County, the War Eagles mix in the passing game intermittently to keep defenses honest.
But the War Eagles still have not found a cure for its kryptonite: the fumble. Chestatee has kept turnovers to a minimum, not giving up any interceptions, but have six fumbles, three lost, in its last two games.
That is a dangerous way for any team to live in Region 7-AAA.
"For us, it goes back to fundamentals," Luttrell said. "It is the same thing we’ve been talking about since we went to camp. It doesn’t really matter who we are playing. What really matters is us. I really like to focus on things we can control."