It might be a different calendar year, but the 2015 season for Dodge County has been reminiscent of a 2014 start in which the Indians opened the season with seven straight wins before losing to Cook in a matchup that helped decide the GHSA Region 1-AAA champion.
In Dodge County’s first four 2014 outings, it outscored its opponents 133-36, similar to the 146-46 advantage Dodge County currently holds after defeating the same four opponents to start this year: Bleckley County, Brantley County, Savannah and Southeast Bulloch.
“It seems like we’ve improved each week, which is what you want to do,” head coach Rex Hodges said. “I feel like the last two games, we’ve done some things that we were trying to do better.”
Hodges said his team has been balanced. Also Hodges said the Indians have taken care of the football. But improvements could still be made in order to take the seven-game winning streak of 2014 even further.
“Probably still looking for some improvement in all three places, but we’ve played fairly well in all areas so far,” Hodges said. “So we want to keep that up and, of course, improve, too, each week.”
The only major test Dodge County has faced was Aug. 28 against Brantley County, when the Indians pulled out a 21-20 victory. But Hodges said the team is “a lot healthier than we were then.” Dodge County was without two starters -- linebacker Cameron Coleman, who was dealing with a shoulder injury, and tight end Cade Cranford, who sat with a sprained ankle -- while a third, defensive back Camron Young, wore a cast on his hand.
Since the close call, Hodges said the players have returned and played the past two games. And their impact has been felt.
“It was really a lift for those guys coming back,” Hodges said.
And while he called it a “bitter pill” at the time, Hodges said the absence of Coleman and Cranford was not terrible for the team in the grand scheme of the season.
“With those guys that had to take their place, that gave them some playing time, too, which they have continued to play in some other areas or give us some rest at times,” Hodges said.
Now, the Indians begin a span of five straight region games as they square off with Tattnall County (3-1) Friday at home. In the teams’ game last year, the Indians won 35-10 on the road.
“This is a big game this week,” he said. “We’ll have our hands full with Tattnall Friday.”
The Warriors run a similar offense to Southeast Bulloch, which Dodge County defeated 31-7 last week. Both teams, according to Hodges, run “two-tight end” sets and like to run the ball between the tackles.
And while the personnel is obviously different, Hodges said the scheme will be “a little more familiar to us” since it will be the second straight week the defense faced it.
“What we want to do is just go out, and really, we’re going to focus on ourselves, make sure we’re doing the things that we’re supposed to do and go out there and play as good as we can play,” Hodges said.
The Indians already have one region victory under their belt after beating Brantley County. Hodges wants to make it two in a row, just like the team did last year.
“We have a chance to go 2-0 in the sub-region, which is, in my mind, a lot better than 1-1,” he said. “I think it’s a good opportunity for us to, if we can get this win, kind of set us up for the future.”