L-R: ZADEN PERRY (RB/LB) SR BILLY SETTLEMOIR (TE/DE) SR BUBBA BASS (OLB/LG) JR - Photos Andy Calvert

A new region and a much younger team give the Chattooga Indians a different feeling and perspective coming into the 2022 season. Although the squad has reached the state playoffs for eight consecutive seasons, this year’s team will have its work cut out for it to make it a ninth season. 

“One of the big things about this year’s team is that we’re going to need to stay patient and hopefully stay healthy. We don’t have much experience at all,” Coach Shawn Peek says. “About 80 percent of our roster is going to be made up of freshmen and sophomores, so we’re just going to need to stay healthy, not get discouraged and handle adversity.” 

While the roster is heavy on underclassmen, Peek does point out the off-season went well. 

“We’ve had a good summer of workouts. The kids have been coming in and working hard and we’ve also had good attendance,” Peek says. “We’ve done a lot more work on football this summer with several 7v7s and trying to get these kids as much experience as possible.” 

The Indians have a tough stretch of non-region opponents before opening play in the new Region 7A-Division 1, and Peek says he hopes those games against Class 3A LaFayette, Temple, Class 3A Coahulla Creek, and Class 2A Murray County will get the team prepared for the rest of the season. 

“If we have weaknesses they are going to be exposed real quick against those teams. Hopefully, if something gets exposed we can fix it. I don’t mind problems that we can fix,” Peek says. “Playing those teams is going to help us get better and fix things so that we’re more prepared when we start region play.” 

Region 7A-Division 1 will see Chattooga facing off against Pepperell, Armuchee, Darlington, Trion, Dade County, and Coosa – all teams the Indians are familiar with and all fairly local teams. 

“We’re used to playing all the teams in this region. It’s going to be a real good region,” Peek says. “We are fortunate because this schedule is a lot more local, so we won’t have to be traveling as much. I think we’ll see more fans at the games.” 

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When talking about the season, Peek mentions several players for fans to keep an eye on this season. 

“Zaden Perry is a senior who plays defense for us, and he’s also going to play running back,” Peek says. “Bubba Bass is an offensive lineman and linebacker. He’s a junior, but he’s been a starter since he was a freshman so we are counting on a lot from him.” 

Peek also mentioned that Quarry Gibson has had a solid summer, and they expect him to do good things in the fall. He also talked about Billy Settlemoir at defensive end and Rocco Coppola on the offensive and defensive lines. 

And while the Indians have a definite youth movement this season, Peek mentioned that the coaching staff has a lot of experience. 

“We have a great coaching staff. We are very fortunate that we’ve been able to keep our staff intact,” Peek says. “Nothing we see is going to surprise our coaches. We’ve got a lot of really good coaches, but they’re not just good coaches, they are good people.” 

With the staff intact and a definite youth movement in motion, the Indians will be looking to gain experience early and see if it can carry them into the playoffs. 

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An injury while running at Auburn ended Jim Alred’s long-shot hopes of possibly competing in the Olympics, so he turned to writing and has been crafting award-winning stories across multiple mediums ever since. Along the way he’s been chased by a grizzly bear, worked as Goofy at Walt Disney World, been nominated for two Emmys, interviewed celebrities like Tiger Woods, Bo Jackson, Bill Clinton, coaches his daughters in cross country and soccer and can often be found running with his wife, Tara, around Rome.