Svehla proud of effort in setback
by Martin Kester
Tribune Sports Correspondent
November 16, 2013 02:12 AM | 1253 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Etowah quarterback John Oliver drops back to pass in a downpour Friday at Norcross. The weather was indicative of the game, as the Eagles were drenched by a first-round shutout.
<BR>Staff photo by Erin Gray
Etowah quarterback John Oliver drops back to pass in a downpour Friday at Norcross. The weather was indicative of the game, as the Eagles were drenched by a first-round shutout.
Staff photo by Erin Gray
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NORCROSS — With the struggles that ended Etowah’s regular season, and the Eagles left to face the defending Class AAAAAA champion in the first round of the state playoffs, Friday night’s 28-0 loss at Norcross is a result many might have expected.

“But anybody who sat in the stands (Friday) knows how this game went,” Etowah coach Dave Svehla said. “It was a battle and our kids played their butts off. We competed.

“We were physical and I’m very proud of our football team.”

The physicality showed in the first half as Etowah (7-4) held Norcross (9-2) scoreless.

“We watched film and prepared for them all week,” senior linebacker James Arnold said. “We came out and did what we needed to do in the first half.”

It was a 24-minute display that included an interception by Ben Rowell and the Eagles taking advantage of the Blue Devils’ penalties. A horse-collar tackle — one of four personal fouls called on Norcross — eventually led to Etowah’s best scoring opportunity.

But Edwin Alfaro’s 37-yard field-goal attempt fell short in the rain.

“We felt good about 0-0 (at halftime) because we felt like our defense had played really well,” Svehla said. “We had some possessions where we really moved the football well and were unable to capitalize in their territory.

“It wasn’t like we were spending the whole (first half) on our end of the field. We had some opportunities. We just didn’t convert.”

Norcross converted in the third quarter, starting at midfield and scoring on its first drive. Etowah quarterback John Oliver attempted to answer, but he was intercepted, and Jordan Noil returned it 26 yards for the second touchdown in less than a minute.

Oliver was intercepted twice more in the second half, and each turnover resulted in a Norcross touchdown.

“They made big plays when they needed to make them,” Svehla said. “That’s what good football teams do.”

Coming off a 4-6 season in 2012, Etowah won its first six games of 2013 and returned to the postseason, a lasting lesson presented by the senior class for future Eagles.

“I love these seniors. They’re tremendous football players, but they’re (also) tremendous people,” Svehla said. “They care about leadership, the legacy and leaving a positive program behind. It matters to them.”

Arnold is one of those departing seniors.

“I’ve been an Eagle since I was 6 years old,” he said. “I’m proud to be an Eagle, and I always will be.”
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