ENTHUSIASM AND EXCITEMENT PERCOLATE THROUGH NEW ARMUCHEE COACH ERIC BELEW’S WORDS as he describes the offseason for the Indians and the team’s chances as they prepare for the upcoming 2023 season.
First off, with a new head coach, it can sometimes take time for everyone to get on the same page, but Belew says the group at Armuchee is doing really well with that.
“Things have been going great. The kids have been doing a really good job of getting invested. It’s exciting to see them take in the new changes on offense, defense, and special teams and respond well,” he says. “They’ve taken everything in stride. The maturity of our team has really shown throughout the entire offseason.”
While every coach does bring changes, Belew notes he’s not making huge changes but rather minor tweaks on both sides of the ball.
“Really it’s just changing basic schematics. Our linemen are doing things differently and our quarterbacks are going to be making different reads. We’re not asking them to reinvent the wheel or anything. We are just moving them around,” he says. “We are running a different front on defense than in the past, and the players’ ability to soak up and apply what we’re teaching them has been exceptional.”
The Indians’ 2023 season finished with a 3-7 record, but the squad had a couple of close losses that could have gone either way. The Indians return a few all-region selections from the 2022 team and their presence along with several other players has Belew optimistic about the season.
“Ryland Steen (who was a second-team all-region linebacker last season) has absolutely shown out at a couple of camps. He is very talented and physical and super mature. If he makes a mistake, he fixes it immediately,” Belew says.
Belew also mentions Jacob Seagraves, a receiver who earned first-team all-region honors last year, and Hayden Phillips, who earned second-team all-region honors as a tight end last season, as key players.
“Seagraves on the perimeter is absolutely electric. He can not only go out there and make plays, but he can also turn on the jets,” Belew says.
While he doesn’t name a specific offensive lineman, Belew says the unit as a whole has been very impressive this summer, and he says they are all physical and love playing football.
At quarterback, Belew says both Blaine Ragland and Luke Lively have looked good and the two players are currently locked in a battle to be the starting quarterback. Belew notes that both also play a lot on defense as well.
The Indians play in Region 7-A, Division I, and that region is super tough. The Indians open region play with a home game against Coosa and a road game at Chattooga in mid-September. If the Indians could grab a win or two there then the possibilities of reaching the playoffs become much better.
When discussing the season and the toughness of the region, Belew gets a happy tone in his voice, and it’s easy to hear his excitement.
“To be honest, I’m really looking forward to seeing our kids have fun the first time we go up against other competition,” he says. “Just getting a chance to see them getting after it and competing this summer has been fun. It’s why we do this as coaches and teachers. We want them to experience what it feels like to work really hard and get positive results from that work.”