SYLVANIA — In a young Screven County Gamecock backfield, somebody had to step up and be a leader. It appears that the role has gone to junior running back Travis Coles.
“Travis has assumed a leadership role,” said Gamecock coach Pat Collins. “There are all different kinds of leaders. He leads probably more by example than anything.”
Coles has led the Gamecocks with 110 carries for 642 yards (5.8 yards per carry) and five touchdowns this season, and it all started with his summer “workout.”
“I had a feed and seed job that had me throwing 100 pound bags,” said Coles. “Got me strong in the offseason. 100 pound bags, all day long.”
If all that lifting for eight hours a day played a part in building his strength, the leadership came out of necessity.
“They look at me as a leader as a junior,” said the tailback, “so I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do. Sometimes I have to step up and tell the guys to do their jobs. I start yelling at them because I forget that they’re younger. I was younger once.”
After a season-opening loss to Statesboro, the Gamecocks improved to 3-1. A 35-6 region loss to Jefferson County has taught the Gamecocks that they can’t get too comfortable. Coles said that the loss has sparked a new intensity during practice.
“It taught us a lot about losing,” Coles said. “We thought we had a big head because we had a little roll going, but losing helped our team a lot. It has made us work harder in the weight room and come to practice and work harder.”
Coles is quick to point out that he is not the only one in the backfield, and he can’t do it all by himself. Collins preaches that football is a team game, and being a tight-knit group on and off the field will help with the team’s chemistry.
“We don’t claim to be the most talented group,” said Collins. “We try to have a good team camaraderie. We care for one another, and we really try to have our teammates understand the importance of caring about someone else (more than) yourself. As we continue to accomplish that we’ll play better. That’s the trick to being on a team.”
Screven travels to Josey today for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff, and the contest could prove to be a classic matchup of size against speed.
Josey, who is also sitting close to the top in region 3-AA at 2-1, will look to spread out the Screven defense and try to find a mismatch.
“They are very, very athletic,” said Collins. “I told our boys that if we got into a foot race with them, we’d probably lose every time, so we’re going to have to do really well to contain them, keep the ball in front of us and play good defense.”
Offensively, Screven will use their Wing T running attack to try and counteract the speed of the Eagle defense.
“We’ve got to be sure when we go out there, we’re mentally focused and ready to play,” Collins said. “We need to go out there and give it our best performance.”
Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9404.