No one was dodging the concerns of Wetumpka’s youth entering the 2019 football season, especially on the defensive side. There were expectations for the talent and experience on offense to make up for some of it and while that was the case at times, Wetumpka could not make up for some of the gaps in its rushing defense and some special teams miscues. It finished the season with a 6-6 record and a second-round playoff loss.
Wetumpka coach Tim Perry was still proud of how his team fought throughout the season, especially due to the difficult schedule the Indians played. Wetumpka’s 12 opponents combined for 87 total wins and 10 of them made the postseason with two still playing in the semifinals.
“We want to keep our expectations high but we also wanted to be realistic,” Perry said. “With as many guys we had playing for the first time at varsity and when you look at the schedule we played, we went through some growing pains. Our win-loss record was not what we are accustomed to but with being as young as we were and still advancing to the second round of the playoffs, that was a great accomplishment.”
Perry still admitted there needs to be improvement on the defensive side but he expects that to come in the future. Wetumpka set a school record for most total points allowed in a season and finished with a negative-point differential for the first time since 2015.
“The players know our expectations and what we’re wanting to accomplish in our program but you can’t gain experience overnight,” Perry said. “Having an opportunity to play 12 games and two extra weeks of practice is huge. The motivation is going to have to be each one of them wanting to get to work and improve and to use that experience they have gained this year to build on that.”
Wetumpka did make the postseason for the seventh consecutive season and won at least one playoff game for the fourth time in Perry’s tenure. Perry said when there’s that long of a streak, it’s easy to take the playoffs for granted but he was still proud of what his players accomplished.
A big reason that goal was met again was because of some of the talent on the offensive side of the ball. The offense may have taken a step back from the last two seasons but Wetumpka still averaged 28.3 points per game and scored at least 30 points seven times.
“They had to perform and make plays,” Perry said. “They utilized that experience they had over the last three years to help us get in situations to have opportunities to win games.”
Tyquan Rawls got his second year as the starting quarterback and took on an even bigger role by playing a majority of snaps on both sides of the ball and being the focus of all opponents’ defensive game plans. Rawls still finished with 3,232 yards and accounted for 35 touchdowns.
“He did a phenomenal job all year,” Perry said. “His growth and maturity, not just as a player but as a leader, was just incredible. He was able to take on a big role and provide leadership and a great example to his teammates.”
Rawls had his fair share of help on offense with a stacked group of receivers including seniors Jaleel Johnson, Malik Davis and Timothy Johnson along with Terrance Thomas in the backfield. While defenses’ focuses were on Rawls, each of them had to step up at different points of the season to continue some success on offense.
“We had confidence in every one of them,” Perry said. “If one was having a slow start in a game, the others would pick up the slack. They built each other up and we leaned on them a lot. We needed them all year and I’m really proud of them.”