Moving from 2A to 4A competition, the Albany Indians have jumped in to the deep end of high school football. A steep increase to some, the Indians think they can handle any wave coming their way.
"Nothing against Region 1, 4A but I think my team is well prepared for that jump from Double-A to 4A," Albany Coach Felton Williams said. "We've had some tough competition in the past 3 or 4 years in Region 1, AA which is probably one of the toughest regions in the state of Georgia, bar none...any classification."
"We're not really worried about it. We know we have good competition in the region...not going to put anything against them, but the region we came out of was tough also," Quarterback Emmanul Byrd said.
In a region with their fellow city rivals, the Indians have experience up front and an unflappable quarterback. Emmanul Byrd, who has garnered attention from Division 1 programs throughout the Southeast, has the full attention of his teammates, as well.
"They feed on Emmanul. Emmanul will take us as far as we'll go. He, along with that offensive line, will determine how far we go in the playoffs and throughout the season. He has a lot to carry," Coach Williams said.
A heavy load is nothing new for the Indians. These players have been carrying the team since their freshmen and sophomore seasons. It was a struggle at first. The Indians have won a total of six games in the last three seasons. Coach Williams expects to flip the win total in 2012.
"Experience is a great teacher. They've been through the thick and thin and the time has come. They saw this program come from the bottom in Region 1, AA in to being a very competitive team. Right now, their season is here," Williams said.
It's been 10 seasons since the Indians reached the playoffs. A long time coming for this experienced Albany squad.
"For our team, it would mean so much. It would give us such an accomplishment that we went through ninth and tenth grade getting beat up on in 2A...yea, it would me a lot," Byrd said.