May 14, 2013

Rampage's season finishes on an upswing

Georgia Rampage quarterback Joel Statham, a former Murray County High School standout, doesn’t know if Monday night’s season finale for Dalton’s Ultimate Indoor Football team will be his last in a football uniform.

If it was, he went out with a bang.

Statham tossed seven touchdown passes and the Rampage closed out their second season in franchise history — and their first in Dalton — with a 54-22 victory over the Chattahoochee Valley Vipers at the trade center.

“I highly doubt it,” Statham said when asked if he would return to the team next season. “I am getting too old for this stuff. We will see what happens between now and then. It could be that things change, but I want to help coach my little brother.”

Statham’s brother, Nich Bartley, will be a senior next school year at Christian Heritage, where he plays football, basketball and baseball.

Against the Vipers, Statham didn’t appear too old, hooking up four times for scores with Jeff Phillips as the Rampage led 20-8 at the end of the first quarter and were never threatened. The victory over the Vipers, who do not belong to a league, gave the Rampage a season record of 3-5. The game counted in the UIFL standings, but the Rampage were eliminated from playoff contention with a quadruple-overtime loss to the Missouri Monsters on April 29.

“This was a season of a lot of improving,” Rampage coach Mark Bramblett said. “If we make seven or eight plays here and there, we could easily be 6-2 or 7-1 on the year and headed to the playoffs. We have to work on some things, but the excitement was there all season and you could tell that we were right in the mix. The big thing as we move forward was getting that last win.”

Statham and the offense were certainly noticeable in that “last win,” but it was powered more by the defense, which held the Vipers scoreless in the second half. The Rampage scored 20 unanswered points in that half.

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