Emory Rains out to prove predictions wrong

By TREY HILL | Inside Football Correspondent

Aug. 30, 2007 - EMORY - As the 2007 football season approaches, the Emory Rains Wildcats once again find themselves looking at predictions that have them sitting at home when the playoffs begin. Just like last year, Rains hopes to prove the prognosticators wrong.

Before the start of the 2006 season, Rains was forecast to finish fourth in District 10-3A. Despite returning 15 lettermen from a team that reached the third round of the playoffs the previous year, the soothsayers said that their previous success was due to a player that graduated. Rains went on to prove the prediction meaningless by securing a playoff spot in the third week of their district schedule and came to within four yards of claiming their first district title in the new millennium.

This year, the Wildcats face a more difficult task with the loss of 10 out of 11 offensive starters. Rains head coach Ken Little agrees that the loss in experience will be missed but when the time comes his team will be ready.

"We're going to start slow; I want everyone to know that. We face a lot of quality teams early in our schedule so we're going to get some bumps and bruises, but when it comes time for district play we're going to be battle hardened." Little said.

The recent success for Rains has been through the play of its defense. This year the Wildcats return six starters from a squad that gave up an average of less than 14 points per game.

Some of the key elements in the Wildcats' defense are Casey Paris, Taylor Marshall and Jake Ferguson, each returning with All-District recognition. Paris, a 6-4 senior, led the team with seven sacks last season. Marshall led the returning starters in tackles and interceptions.

Also expected to make significant contributions on defense are free safety Travis Gibson, Colby Hoover at outside linebacker, and Montrel Christian and Kenneth Cawthon as linebackers.

The defense should be solid as always, but with the loss of so many offensive starters could come a change in Little's ground-oriented offensive philosophy.

"We feel like we can throw the football," Little said. "We'll have Marshall and Christian at quarterback and both of them can throw the football well. We also have Ferguson, Hoover, Paris, and Blake Hicks that can catch the ball, so we're going to see what we can do to get them the ball."

After three years of Aaron Marshall, Evan House and Joey Northcutt anchoring the offensive line, Rains will have a whole new line. This year Rains will look to Akeem Calhoun, Klay Young and sophomore Jeremy Dowdy to win the battle in the trenches.

This year the Wildcats will attempt to achieve something no previous Rains football team has done: reach the playoffs in three consecutive seasons. Twice Rains has reached the playoffs in back-to-back years only to fare no better than a .500 record in the next season.

The 2007 Rains team is looking to break from its past and prove the fortunetellers wrong with another trip to the playoffs.

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