ASU players: Homecoming week not a distraction

ASU freshman linebacker Tavarius Washington  was named the conference's Defensive Player of the Week on Tuesday.

ASU freshman linebacker Tavarius Washington was named the conference's Defensive Player of the Week on Tuesday.

ALBANY — The flags have already been flying for several days around town. It doesn’t take long to know when it’s Homecoming week at Albany State.

The Rams will tangle with Clark Atlanta on Saturday in front of a large contingent of home fans for Homecoming, an experience none of the ASU newcomers have seen before.

“I think here Homecoming is a little bigger,” said Rams senior quarterback David Kooi, who is in his first season in Albany after transferring from Division I Florida Atlantic. “There’s a lot going down at Homecoming at FAU, but it’s big here, (too). They treat it a little different (at Albany State).”

No doubt there’s plenty to do on campus this week as the Rams bring a three-game winning streak into Saturday’s final home game of the regular season. Along with the increased atmosphere comes plenty of distraction as well, something the Rams are trying to guard against.

“It’s easy to be distracted at times (this week), but we pretty much bond together and treat it just like another (game),” ASU junior safety Dexter Moody said Tuesday. “We’ll have fun after we take care of Saturday.”

So no fun, no rowdiness, and no parties this week?

“I don’t know about that,” said Kooi, who admitted he may afford himself some time this week to soak in the festivities.

Added freshman linebacker Tavarius Washington: “It looks like there’s a party every night, but we’ve got to stay focused on this game.”

Yes they do. After all, ASU — winners of three straight — is the hottest team in the conference right now, and the Rams would like nothing more than to keep that momentum going Saturday.

The Panthers (2-5, 2-3 broke a four-game losing streak last week with a 14-10 win against Benedict and are two games back in the loss column behind Albany State, which sits atop the East division standings with Fort Valley State.

The Rams (4-3, 3-1), who dropped three straight prior to their current hot streak, are just glad to be on a roll at the right time to give Homecoming fans even more to be excited about.

“The team is confident,” Washington said. “We’re just ready to play football.”

FRESHMAN GETS DEFENSIVE: Washington had the game of his life Saturday in a 16-13 win against Morehouse and was named the conference’s Defensive Player of the Week on Tuesday. The Waynesboro native, who played at Burke County High, led the ASU defense with 15 tackles, including 10 solos and 3.5 tackles for loss. He also recovered a fumble and played all over the field.

“I just remember I was everywhere — on kickoffs, special teams,” said Washington, who is third on the team in tackles with 53. “I was just everywhere trying to make a play.”

IN THE MOOD FOR INTS: Moody was also named conference Newcomer of the Week after Saturday’s defensive battle went ASU’s way, thanks to a big play from the Georgia State transfer.

Moody, who now leads the conference in interceptions with six, pulled down the biggest one of the season thus far in the third quarter and took it 38 yards to the house for his second pick-6 this year.

He also had five solo tackles from his safety position and a pass breakup. Moody continues to show why he was a highly recruited player out of Emmanuel County Institute. He and former teammate Washaun Ealey signed with the University of Georgia out of high school, but Moody never made it to Athens after his scholarship was revoked for high school disciplinary reasons. Ealey ran for more than 1,500 yards in two seasons at UGA, but he was released from his scholarship after multiple suspensions in Athens. He’s now at Jacksonville State as a senior after running for 1,082 yards last season at the FCS-level school.

“He’s doing alright,” Moody said of Ealey, who was suspended for the Jacksonville State season opener last month after a misdemeanor drug-related arrest. “I’m more than sure (he’s NFL-bound). I’m looking forward to him having a big (NFL) combine (performance) next year.”