“Last year, we went into Pope 1-1 coming off a win against Centennial,” Svehla said.
Etowah lost the game, 20-17 in overtime.
“Quite honestly, we got outplayed. We got outcoached,” Svehla said. “There were quite a few things we didn’t execute properly. That evening, I think, is on the mind of all of us.”
To that end, the Eagles have prepared for Pope as much as they have anyone else thus far.
“We don’t want to duplicate the performance from last year,” Svehla said. “That game has been on my mind for a year. There is an expectation that I have in my job, and I think everyone else expects the same thing. I
didn’t do good enough in my job that night. I have very vivid memories of that Friday night, and just like the kids, I’m determined to do a better job.”
While Etowah enters this season’s meeting with Pope at 2-0, with wins over Lambert and Centennial, it will meet a Greyhounds team that’s 0-2. Etowah has averaged a margin of victory of more than 20 points in its first two games, while Pope has been outscored by nearly 45 points per game.
Those numbers might make some coaches in Svehla’s position feel pretty good, but he knows that Pope is a talented team that will attempt to spread the Eagles’ defense out and find space for speedy skill players. With an inexperienced quarterback and running backs, Pope is still looking for a breakout moment according to Svehla.
“They have the ability to get the kids the ball in space,” he said. “At the high school level, if you have an athlete out in space, you can really create some problems.”
On defense, Pope is physical and aggressive.
“Our kids are going to have to be ready to face that head-on,” Svehla said.
Still, the biggest asset for Pope is at the line. With Max Kemper, Mike Kemper, Joey Freeman, Ben Cottingham and Quintin Bange in the trenches, Etowah will have a challenge at the line of scrimmage on every down.
With his team relatively healthy, Svehla doesn’t plan on making any major changes on either side of the ball.
John Oliver will continue to serve as the Eagles’ quarterback, while Brandon Engle will be the primary force on the ground. The pair combined for over 350 rushing yards and four touchdowns last week.
“We know what we are good at, and we will just keep doing that,” Svehla said.