However, the 2013 campaign looks to mark a change for the Spartans’ program as it has already amassed six wins with three contests left and bring a two-game winning streak into this Friday’s contest at East Paulding for first place in Region 5-AAAAA.
“I’m pleased with our team play and excited for the kids,” said head coach Ed Koester, in his first season at South Paulding.
The Spartans have been powered by an explosive offense averaging a region-high 43 points per contest. Senior Chander Burks has emerged as one of the top duel-threat quarterbacks in Georgia, throwing for 1,664 yards and 18 touchdowns in the air while also rushing for an additional 12 scores and a team-high 870 yards this season. Fellow senior running back Jae Bowen, has 11 touchdowns this season, including three in the third quarter of South Paulding’s 42-13 win over Hiram on Oct. 18.
Bowen also has a team-high seven receiving touchdowns for the Spartans. Sophomore LJ Pope has developed into South Paulding’s top pass catcher, amassing 544 yards receiving and five touchdowns this season.
“Chandler, Jae and the rest of our offense has had an outstanding season for us,” Koester said.
The defensive unit for South Paulding has improved all season, allowing only 18.5 points per contest in the last two games. Senior safety Khalia Hackett leads the team with 56 total tackles while linebacker Jack Young has 53. The defensive line has been anchored by seniors Casey Cobb and Jake Gray who have 3.5 sacks and 2.5 sacks respectively.
South Paulding has shown perseverance off the field as well when Koester missed time from the team earlier this season for medical reasons. However, the head coach has returned to full-time duty and the Spartans have begun preparations for their game against the Raiders on Friday.
“We’re going to have to stay healthy, deal with the elements of going on the road and focus on winning to leave East Paulding with a victory,” Koester said.