Hurricanes blow through first part of season with best record in team history
The scene is different now when school begins Monday mornings at Rutland.
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There are slaps on the back, fist bumps, handshakes, high fives and just about any other form of congratulations imaginable directed toward Rutland football players in the hallways of the school in southern Bibb County.
For coaches and players who’ve never been in this position at Rutland, the feeling is a good one. The Hurricanes are 3-0 for the first time in program history.
“Everyone is in your face saying, ‘Aw, you guys are 3-0, you made history.’ It makes us want to work harder,” senior running back Montez Cheney said.
The Hurricanes get back to work Friday against West Laurens at the Ed DeFore Sports Complex. With a win, they would already equal the most wins in a season since head coach George Collins arrived in 2008. Rutland has won more than four games in a season only twice in 11 seasons.
“We’re getting a lot of hype, but I tell everyone to not pay attention to everyone,” Cheney said. “No one else really knows what’s going on because they’re not out here every day. We have to continue to work hard and get better every week.”
Collins is stressing that idea to his players. He wants them to keep in mind where they’ve been in the past few years, winning three total region games the past two seasons.
“We don’t want to be in a situation where we don’t take care of business, and we have to rely on other teams to have a chance at the playoffs,” Collins said. “That’s how it has worked out the last few years. We keep saying we want to be in control of our fate.”
The Hurricanes could be awfully dangerous during the next two months if they continue to play how they have through the first month of the season.
Rutland has scored more than 40 points in each of its three games. The Hurricanes are coming of a 55-point performance against Central, which is only the second time in program history they’ve scored more than 50. The three-game total of 138 points is by far the most prolific scoring stretch in program history.
“We feel like we have a lot of weapons, and it’s hard to shut us down,” Cheney said. “We have a good offensive line, good receivers, a good quarterback and good running backs. It’s a lot to keep track of for a defense.”
Cheney has been one of the biggest bright spots thus far.
The senior tailback has rushed for 433 yards and 11 touchdowns through three games. He’s leading all Bibb County players in total yards, touchdowns and yards per game. Cheney rushed for 200 yards and five touchdowns in the win over Central.
“He played linebacker last year, and we haven’t had to use him there this year, so he’s staying fresh,” Collins said.
Cheney is receiving a lot of running room because of the play of the Hurricanes’ offensive line. Collins, a former All-America offensive lineman at Georgia and an NFL player, said the group is playing well, and it helps when opposing defenses can’t load the box because Rutland’s passing attack is very sharp.
Junior left-hander Timori Northcutt has passed for 575 yards and four touchdowns while completing 59 percent of his passes. He has added 178 yards and four touchdowns on the ground.
Northcutt has an impressive group of receivers to work with, led by Georgia-commitment Shakenneth Williams.
Williams, who is the most sought after recruit in any sport in school history, has 15 receptions for 299 yards and two touchdowns. The senior has performed well despite drawing constant attention from opposing defenses.
“I think the defense always looks for where he is on the field,” Collins said. “He opens things up for other guys.”
Both Jalen Kirkland and Te’Aundre Faulks have had some nice games to start the season.
Despite his team’s high-scoring start to the season, Collins knows the toughest games are still to come. After West Laurens, the Hurricanes play Veterans, Baldwin and Mary Persons in consecutive games -- all three are expected to be in the playoff mix -- and Rutland closes with defending region champion Westside.
“I think the schedule has worked out for us,” Collins said. “We’ve got some confidence, and we’re played well heading into region play. But we know anything can happen in region play, so we just have to keep getting better.”