HICKORY FLAT, Ga. - Hickory Flat is accustomed to meaningful gatherings. Not too many years ago Native Americans met near what locals call "Indian Knoll" to trade and socialize.
Friday night they'll gather at Skip Pope Stadium to see if the Sequoyah Chiefs can move to 4-0 for the first time since 2006. Sequoyah is one of the surprise teams of 2018, upsetting then 6th-ranked Dalton in convincing fashion 42-14 in week three. The Chiefs not only knocked Dalton out of the top ten, but secured their own spot in the rankings, occupying the tenth position in this week's Associated Press Georgia Football Prep Poll.
"Hickory Flat is our community," said third-year athletic director Craig McKinney. "We're 15 minutes from any highway so we still have that tight-knit small town feel. We're really the only game in town on Fridays. If you want to get to Atlanta it will take a while on Friday nights."
James Teter is in his tenth season at Sequoyah. The former head coach at Dunwoody is keeping his players humble despite their early season success, drawing from his experience coaching the Wildcats to an undefeated 10-0 regular season back in 2008.
"We're excited for the kids. We felt like we'd be pretty good this season, but on Monday (after the Dalton win) we talked to them about staying humble because its just another game on the schedule."
It was a significant win because Teter's Sequoyah teams had lost eight straight games to the Catamounts before their recent convincing victory. Beating Dalton also helped the Chiefs keep pace in a hotly contested Region 6-AAAAAA featuring undefeated upstart, and former High 5 Sports Team of the Week, Creekview, and the always formidable Harrison Hoyas.
The Chiefs feature a stingy defense that's surrendered only 21 points in their first three games. Cornerback Emmanuel Jenkins has picked up 16 collegiate offers and is playing at a high level along with fellow corner Myles McGee.
A talented senior-laden defensive line continues to wear down opponents late in games. Connor Johnston and Spencer Clark anchor the interior of the line while senior linebacker Adam LaSelva patrols the middle of the field with superior tackling skills.
Offensively, the Chiefs have benefited from 3rd-year starter Collier Pecht's experience- especially after they switched back to the more familiar Wing-T. Teter instituted a spread offense for a brief period beginning in 2015, before scraping it in favor of the more traditional Wing-T, an offense that Pecht ran while playing quarterback in middle school.
A pair of senior running backs carry the load on the ground. Cole Jacobs ran for 200 yards against Dalton and D.J. King continues to be a dependable option for the Chief's play callers.
It remains to be seen if Sequoyah can continue to mow down opponents; games with Creekview and Harrison loom large on the horizon, but for now, they'll celebrate the school's first High 5 Sports Team of the Week Trophy with a live pep rally Thursday on Good Day Atlanta. Good Day's Paul Milliken will be in Hickory Flat bright and early--and maybe, just maybe--they'll get a visit from Sequoyah alum and current Good Day Atlanta anchor Katie Beasley.