After three years as the starting quarterback at Chestatee High, Ethan Souther’s presence in the end zone at War Eagle Stadium has become common.
That was especially the case Friday, when Souther scored six touchdowns — four rushing and two passing — in Chestatee’s 57-0 win against Gilmer.
Splitting time between quarterback and running back, Souther finished the game with 121 rushing yards on eight carries and was 8-for-8 passing with 109 yards.
“Personally, it was a pretty big game, but it was a bigger game for the team than it was for me individually,” he said. “57-0, that’s a pretty big statement for everybody on the team and not just me.”
With one of Chestatee’s two starting running backs out with an injury, Souther split time between the two positions. Although he has never done that before in his three years as quarterback, he hasn’t been shy about running the ball in the past, having spent much of his time taking carries in the War Eagles’ option-based offense.
“It’s fun playing, period,” Souther said. “We have a running back who can’t play right now, so I filled the spot, and it ended up being pretty fun.
“I’ve been used to quarterback for three years, but it’s always fun to mix it up a little bit.”
If Souther’s performance last Friday is any indicator of him entering his prime this season, it couldn’t have come at a better time. Chestatee (4-2, 3-0 Region 7A-AAA), which has won its last three games, visits subregion foe White County on Friday as the Warriors’ homecoming date.
The War Eagles’ history with White County on homecoming night doesn’t sit well with Souther and his teammates. Last season, Chestatee lost to the Warriors 35-21 at War Eagle Stadium. Not only was the loss the War Eagles’ homecoming game, but it moved White County ahead of them in the subregion standings, which eventually resulted in the Warriors making the playoffs while Chestatee stayed home.
“We’ve had the big red X on White County since our homecoming last year, which was very, very disappointing,” Souther said. “It’s been a personal week for us and it’s still early. That’s why we’re out here working so hard and taking care of business.”
But if Souther can continue to duplicate the success he’s had all season, more wins are on the way.
The 5-9, 155-pound senior is only 55 yards shy of passing for more yards than all of last season, and has already accounted for 15 touchdowns this year.
“He’s always been able to run, but this year he has developed his arm much better, and that’s a testament to his work ethic,” Chestatee coach Stan Luttrell said.
“His mechanics and his decision making have gotten much better, and that’s the key to our offense.”
When Luttrell arrived at Chestatee in 2006, Souther was next in line to take the starting quarterback job, despite having never taken a snap at varsity level.
Despite the lack of experience, Souther didn’t waste time becoming a winner as a sophomore, leading the War Eagles to a 7-4 record and their second playoff appearance in school history.
Since then, Chestatee has found success with Souther taking snaps, compiling a 11-5 record over the last two seasons.
“He’s done an excellent job grasping and understanding the offense, and he has a lot more control,” Luttrell said. “He’s really done a great job in the three years that I’ve been here. He’s won more games than any other quarterback at this school.”
After three years at quarterback, Souther’s commitment to the War Eagles is getting noticed by colleges. He visits Shorter this weekend, and has been scouted as a wide receiver and defensive back by the Citadel as well.
“It’s kind of up in the air right now,” Souther said. “It’s kind of hard to visit colleges near the end of the season.”
With four region opponents making up the last leg of Chestatee’s season, focusing on finishing his senior year and leading the War Eagles to the playoffs is still the first thing on Souther’s mind.