Football preview: NC takes on Etowah


Michael Smith

An inside look at Etowah’s defense, bringing a “Tampa 2” style for the Warrior’s offense

Michael Smith, Sports editor

NC enters the second week of the football season prepared to face off with the Etowah Eagles in the Marietta Daily Journal’s game of the week. Both teams enter the game coming off of wins: NC won 44-16 over Cherokee and the Eagles trashed the Campbell Spartans 56-0. Both teams bring explosive offenses and physical defenses to the competition. Last season, Etowah went 8-2 before losing in the first round of the playoffs to Archer. The team brings a lot of new starters into 2016, but returns its star running back and safety.

Etowah defines its defense with aggressive, violent linebackers who fly to the football and bite on play action. Etowah bases its defense around a “Tampa 2” philosophy, a zone defense which delegates two deep safeties and corners who defend quick routes towards the sideline. The middle linebacker assists the safeties by backing down the middle of the field and defending passes in the middle of the field. The Eagles focus on preventing the run, putting big defensive linemen tight together and trusting talented safeties and linebackers to chase down ballcarriers.

Etowah plans to develop their gameplan around star safety and Stanford commit Stuart Head (#17). He weighs in at 6’4’’, 190 pounds. On film, Head displays the ability to anticipate and jump short passes, then make a play with great hands and reach. He also recorded an absurd 140 tackles last season, as Head consistently displayed an ability to anticipate and jump plays in front of him. The Eagles will run their offense through star running back Tyray Devezin, who rushed for over 1,000 yards in each of the last two seasons. The senior running back displays explosion and vision and film, as well as patience over the course of a slow drive to not try and force a big run.

The Eagles’ offense prioritizes running the football, running a “pro-style” offense, a rarity in both high school and college football today. The offense will most commonly line up in the “I” with Devezin (#5) lined up eight yards behind the line of scrimmage, a quarterback under center, and a fullback in between the two. The Eagles will commonly utilize a tight end to add a blocker in the run game and draw in the defense for play-action passes to the outside. Etowah focuses on “gap” running plays that open holes with big offensive linemen pulling to gain momentum and move defenders out of the way.

Expect NC to try to draw the Eagle defenders up with play action. Etowah will look to prevent the quick Warrior drive and trust its players to make tackles on short plays. Etowah began to attempt and modify its offense during the offseason to predicate the passing game and prevent defense from selling out to stop the run. However, the Warrior defense will still likely focus on stopping the Eagle running game and trusting its corners to cover one on one to the outside. Entering the game, fans on both sides should expect physical football and big plays between two playoff caliber teams.


The Chant’s prediction: NC: 35 Etowah: 24.