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New coaching staff invigorates West Georgia

Not much surprises West Georgia’s defensive players these days.

They see so many offensive formations in practice, they’re ready for whatever their opponents run against them.

“Our offense will come out with two backs, five wides, one back and even that dang wildcat formation,” linebacker Tyrell Adams (Mays) said. “They have some crazy schemes that they practice every day, which allows us to see multiple styles of offense.”

The looks the defensive players receive during the week combined with the energy provided by the new staff assembled by former West Alabama coach Will Hall has led the Wolves to a 3-0 start for the first time since 2001.

“I’m an impatient person, and (West Alabama) won the (Gulf South) Conference the past two years, so we’re trying to change the culture here,” Hall said. “We’re trying to get better each week. We want to be able to contend and make sure every game counts. Hopefully we’ll keep progressing and keep doing that.”

Hall was hired last November by West Georgia athletic director Daryl Dickey, who resigned as coach after six years to focus on his administrative duties. West Alabama went 25-11 in three seasons under Hall, reaching the Division II playoffs in 2011 and ’12.

He brought in several coaches from his former staff, but hired defensive coordinator Scott Symons from Arkansas Tech.

West Georgia shut out Miles and Johnson C. Smith the past two weeks and has allowed an average of 69 yards rushing and 250 yards a game.

“We’re clicking in more ways than I thought we would,” said Adams, who leads the Wolves with 16 tackles. “We’ve got a ways to go, but we’re growing as a team. The defense is going strong right now. We’re just worried about the next play and shutting down teams.”

The Wolves will see plenty of option when they play at Clark Atlanta today. The Panthers (1-2) are averaging 243.3 rushing yards a game and have attempted 21 passes in three games.

“There’s a lot of optimism here,” Adams said. “I don’t think we expected to be this far, but we’re looking forward to seeing how far we can go. We’re hard on ourselves. We have higher goals. Being 3-0 is good, but we want to win the conference and contend for the national championship.”

Big start

Morehouse’s Monqavious Johnson (M.L. King) threw five touchdown passes while splitting time with two other quarterbacks in 2013.

He nearly equaled that total by throwing for four scores – three to Devon Mann (Newton) — in the Maroon Tigers’ 43-9 victory over Central State last week.

Johnson, who is the SIAC offensive player of the week, threw for 403 yards — the second-best single-game mark in team history — behind only Ruben DuPree’s 445 yards in 2006 – and has 763 yards and six touchdowns this season. He leads the SIAC in passing with 254.3 yards and in total offense (280.3 yards).

Mann averages 29 yards a catch and Lake McGuffie (Our Lady of Mercy) is at 23.2 yards a reception as Johnson’s deep targets.

Around the state

Shorter safety Jordan Shaw (Pickens County) leads Division II with six interceptions in three games. … Georgia Southern is 2-0 in its first year in the Sun Belt after a 34-14 victory over Appalachian State on Thursday. … Georgia Military College running back Jovon Robinson, who has committed to Auburn, has 461 yards in four games (115.2 yards a game). He set the NJCAA single-season record with 2,387 yards rushing in 2013 and tied marks with 34 touchdowns and 204 points. … Berry linebacker Preston Stewart (Riverwood) is tied for second in Division III with four sacks in two games. … Valdosta State (2-1) is No. 21 in Division II in the American Football Coaches Association Top 25 and No. 18 according to D2Football.com. … Point freshman receiver Brandon Robertson (Dutchtown) has returned three punts for touchdowns in four games. He returned one 82 yards in an opening loss to Charleston Southern, a FCS program, and had two last week. … Albany State linebacker Tavarius Washington (Burke County) leads the SIAC with 11 tackles a game.

Thursday

Georgia Southern 34, Appalachian State 14

Saturday

Rhodes at Berry, 1 p.m.

Averett at LaGrange, 1 p.m.

Mercer at VMI, 1:30 p.m.

West Georgia at Clark Atlanta, 2 p.m.

Morehouse at Paine, 2 p.m.

Point vs. Edward Waters (at Waycross), 2 p.m.

Georgia Military at College of DuPage, 2 p.m.

Reinhardt at Bethel, 2:30 p.m.

Fort Valley State at Benedict, 6 p.m.

Savannah State at Delaware State, 6 p.m.

Miles at Albany State, 7 p.m.

Valdosta State at North Alabama, 7 p.m.


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