Schley County turns a loss into motivation

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ELLAVILLE, Ga. (WTVM) - The Schley County Wildcats have one goal this season:

“Nothing short of a state championship”

That’s what senior quarterback Jay Kanazawa said during practice.

Head coach Darren Alford says he wants his team to “finish the drill” after losing the state championship game to Bowdon last season.

“Knowing where we were last year and the experience that we gained from going that far in the playoffs and getting to the final game, it calmed us a little bit,” Alford said. “When things start going bad, our guys say ‘okay, this is alright. We’ve been in this situation before and we’re going to handle it now.’”

The Wildcats went 12-3 last season and were undefeated in region play. One of their losses came against Bleckley County, but the Cats got their revenge this season in an overtime thriller. The Wildcats beat the Royals 48-42, which lead them to be Georgia High School Football Daily Team of the Week.

“From the very first play of the game, I knew we were going to be in for a fight because when I saw them run, they were one of the fastest teams we’ve ever played,” Coach Alford said. “We talked to the kids and told them to listen to me, ‘we’re going to have some adversity tonight’ and our kids responded.”

“That makes me really excited about what we can do this year, you know coming together, and having good chemistry,” Kanazawa said.

Speaking of chemistry, senior safety and receiver Carson Westbrook says the team’s bond this year is on a different level.

“Everyone on the team wants what’s best for everyone else, and that’s what I think is so good about it,” he said. “There’s really not any selfishness on the team.”

Linebacker Jack Clark is captain of the defense, but Coach Alford likes to call him “the quarterback of the defense.” He says making adjustments has been the focus this season

“I think our defense has been playing a whole lot faster, more disciplined this year than previous years, so I mean we’ve improved a lot,” he explained.

Westbrook says you can’t forget about the coaches.

" Every single one of our coaches…they’re all crucial, they’re probably the best coaches in the state by far.”

Kanazawa says this is the team’s recipe for success:

“Stay focused, take one week at a time, and don’t take anything too lightly.”

Mackenzie Collins

Mackenzie joined the News Leader 9 team in February 2023.