After coming over from Chattahoochee, Creekview coach Terry Crowder met with his new players prior to the start of the season. He was about to begin his first year as the Grizzlies’ coach following the retirement of Al Morrell, the only leader the program had previously had.
Crowder worked with the players through the spring and summer, putting new offensive and defensive systems in place.
But before Creekview could play its first game under Crowder, it suffered a significant setback. Senior quarterback Hunter Wingfield, who had transferred from Cherokee, suffered an injury that would prevent him from taking the field. The Grizzlies were left to turn to sophomore backup Kyle Wilkie as the varsity starter.
“I was just fortunate that, when we lost Hunter, the senior quarterback, I had such a good sophomore coming in behind him,” Crowder said. “(Kyle) played so well. The system that we ran just fit him really nicely.”
It wasn’t just Wilkie. All the players took hold of the Grizzlies’ new schemes. Wilkie grew into the most prolific passer in the county, while the defensive backs set school records for interceptions and interceptions returned for touchdowns.
In the end, Crowder led Creekview to a subregion title and Class AAAAA state playoff appearance. The Grizzlies had an 8-3 record after coming up a point shy against East Paulding in the first round of the playoffs.
For guiding Creekview to a successful season, and overcoming obstacles along the way, Crowder is the 2013 Cherokee Tribune Football Coach of the Year.
Crowder said he was honored to receive the award because of how much he respects the other coaches in the county. The county certainly wasn’t lacking for candidates after three programs — Creekview, Etowah and Sequoyah — reached the state playoffs and Cherokee narrowly missed after winning just one game in 2012.
“This is a well-established county, so I take this honor with a lot of pride,” Crowder said. “I try to conduct myself well and continue to build this program the best that I can.”
Crowder said he wasn’t alone in overcoming the challenges at Creekview.
“I have a great staff behind me, and the kids really bought into our system,” he said.
Looking toward the future, Crowder predicts more success, and he has 16 reasons to feel that way.
Those 16 reasons are the starters that he will return.
Aside from two-way standout Connor Dulmage, kicker Ben McClellan, linebacker Joseph Sorrentino, defensive back/receiver Nick Fahrnbauer and lineman Michael Shaw, the Grizzlies’ starting lineup will remain intact.
“To say I’m excited about next year would be kind of silly because we have 16 starters back,” Crowder said. “We have a chance to be really, really good. A year up on this system, and what we are doing, I think that we have a chance to be just as good as we want to be.”