The Armuchee football team is undergoing a major change in culture.
It was evident when the Indians opened the season with four straight wins — and it was evident again on Friday night after they suffered their first loss, falling to Mt. Zion, 28-14.
The looks on the faces of the Armuchee players after the game — which was the Region 6-A Public opener for both teams — made it clear that the Indians weren’t satisfied with just being competitive.
“The kids are hurting right now, and that’s a good sign,” said Armuchee head coach Jeremy Green. “I don’t want Armuchee football to be characterized by moral victories. That’s not who we are any more.”
Armuchee senior running back Alex Wright, who was the bell-cow of the Indians’ rushing attack and scored a fourth-quarter touchdown, said Armuchee’s new mindset was on display throughout the night, even when the Indians fell behind 21-7 early in the second half.
“I never once saw anyone — from the o-line or the receiver group or anybody — who was hanging their heads and saying, ‘I don’t know if we can do this,’” said Wright. “We fully believed we were going to march down the field and keep scoring.”
The Indians’ hot start to the season has created a buzz in the Armuchee community, and the Indians fans turned out in a big way for Friday’s homecoming game. Green said he believes the building blocks are in place for the program, which features 40 underclassmen on the team’s 54-player roster.
“Our main two goals are to make Armuchee football something that our community can be proud of and to make Armuchee football matter,” he said. “Those are goals — and those goals are still attainable (despite tonight’s loss). We are going to keep striving toward those goals, no matter what form those goals might take.”
Armuchee quarterback Chandler Desanto completed 9-of-13 passes for 131 yards on the night. He completed a pass to JJ House — who took it to the house — for a 60-yard score on Armuchee’s opening possession of the game.
Mt. Zion, however, answered immediately with a touchdown drive to tie the game at 7-7, and the Eagles moved in front, 14-7, on a 68-yard punt return late in the first half. The Eagles extended the lead to 21-7 on their opening possession of the third quarter, when Sherrod Montgomery scored on a 23-yard run.
Armuchee trimmed the deficit to 21-14 in the fourth quarter, when the Indians put together an impressive 13-play drive that covered 60 yards and was capped by Wright’s 5-yard TD run with 7:20 remaining.
But the Indians’ defense couldn’t get the stop it needed on Mt. Zion’s ensuing possession. The Eagles picked up a first down on a pivotal fourth-and-one play with 2:52 to go, and then orchestrated a game-clinching 28-yard touchdown from Kevin Berrios to extend the lead to 28-14 with 1:17 remaining in the game.
Green said the Indians can learn a lot from the loss, and he said he believes they will.
“I want us to believe in ourselves, and to understand that there were things tonight that we could have done differently — both in terms of the players and the coaches — to make this outcome different,” he said.
Armuchee is on the road next Friday at Best Academy at 7:30 p.m. as they try to bounce back an even their region record.