High School Football

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By: Jeff Doke

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

After a tough loss last week to Calvary Day, the Frederica Knights were hoping some home cooking would be just what the doctor ordered.

Unfortunately, all the Tiftarea Panthers were ready to serve up was a taste of our own medicine.

Head Coach Brandon Derrick let it be known in the preseason not to expect the high-flying, seat-of-your-pants high-tempo offense of years past.

This year’s Knights squad will, out of necessity, be a very deliberate clock control type offense, milking the most out of every offensive series. While this strategy worked effectively against Valwood in the season-opening victory, it was not in the cards for the next who weeks.

Tiftarea employed the same philosophy against the Knights Friday night to the tune of a 29-7 final score. The Panthers put together long, extended drives all night starting with the opening drive.

Following the opening kickoff, Tiftarea put together a 72-yard, 12-play drive that ate up more than seven minutes of the opening frame and culminated in a designed QB scramble for the score.

“We knew where it was going 85% of the time in the first half,” said Coach Derrick. “They mixed it up a little in the second half. You’ve got what you’ve got.”

The Knights unfortunately answered the opening drive with a three & out series with short runs from RB Jordan Triplett and acting QB Bryce Reilly.

The senior WR filling in for the injured Thomas Veal would spend more time showing off his wheels than his arm all night. Reilly went 2-3 for 66 yards through the air and 12 carries for 48 yards.

Sophomore RB Jordan Triplett didn’t fare any better on the night. The Tiftarea defense focused on #4 all game, limiting him to 34 yards on 11 carries. The night was by far the worst of his so-far stellar career.

The lone offensive highlight of the evening came on the Knights second drive of the 2nd half. After the Knights turned the ball over on downs on the opening drive, Reilly lobbed a screen pass to Triplett to the short side of the field, which “The River” then turned into a 61-yard touchdown.

Late in the 4th, the Knights threatened to score again, evoking memories of late-game heroics from Knights squads past.

Reilly scrambled five times and was aided by a horsecollar penalty on a 16-yard run, which set the Knights up for a 1st & goal inside the 5-yard line. Unfortunately, Lady Luck failed to smile, and a bobbled handoff led to the only Knights turnover on the night, sealing the final score at 29-7.

Defensively, the night belonged to LB Jacob Aiken. The Player of the Game recipient notched a minimum of seven solo tackles (four on the opening drive alone) and numerous group efforts. After the game, he was adamant to share the credit for the performance with his teammates.

“There’s only 20 of us. We all rely on each other, we all fire each other up,” said the Senior. “It was Just as much the linemen as it was me. I need them, I need Jon Phillip (Spiers). We all need each other.”

The Knights are back on the road next two weeks for a pair of GHSA matchups, traveling to Nahunta to take on Frederica coaching alum Jeff Cannon and his Brantley County Herons, then to Ludowici to take on Long County.

Unhorsed Knights

By: Jeff Doke

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Friday night was a case of “same David, different Goliath” for Frederica Academy.

Coming off an opening week victory over Valwood, Coach Brandon Derrick and the Knights hit the road to Savannah to take on their first GHSA opponent of the year, the Calvary Day School Cavaliers.

Last year, after keeping them to a 7-7 tie at halftime, Frederica wound up falling to the Cavaliers by a score of 27-7. Unfortunately, this year’s game would turn out to be quite different.

In 2020, the Frederica roster was famously 30 men in size. The “Dirty Thirty” was outmanned at almost every matchup, but still managed to notch a 7-3 regular season record en route to a state championship matchup.

This week, due to injuries to the already smaller roster, Frederica took a “Lean Eighteen” into battle against the 70-man roster of Calvary Day.

It would be safe to say that Cavaliers Head Coach Mark Stroud spent at least part of the week reminding his team of the quick start that Frederica was able to put together against them last year, because Calvary Day started fast and didn’t let up, scoring twice in the 1st quarter.

After the teams exchanged 3 & outs on their first drives, the Knights defense struggled early against the 2020 Final Four team, allowing touchdowns on two 50-yard drives.

With senior QB Thomas Veal out for three weeks with a broken non-throwing arm, WR Bryce Reilly moved under center for the week. To say it was a baptism by fire would be an understatement.

The Knights offensive line was unfortunately overpowered, and the extended time in the pocket that Veal enjoyed against Valwood the week before was nowhere to be seen.

Regardless, Reilly proved to be a more than capable backup, completing 4 out of 5 passes in the first half (most of which to fellow WR Blake Holloway) and adding 21 yards rushing.

The harassment didn’t stop with the backup Quarterback. Sophomore RB Jordan Triplett saw his share of difficulties against the Cavaliers D-Line as well.

After putting up 222 all-purpose yards the week before, Triplett felt the effects of being almost sole focus of the defense, getting stopped behind the line five times in the first half.

Down 27-0 in the final moments of the first half, the Knights were looking to finally get on the board with a 4th and goal play from the 1 yd line with :03 left on the clock.

As fate would have it, momentum again swung the other way after a bobbled snap resulted in a fumble and a Cavaliers scoop and score covering 99 yards to end the half at 34-0.

The third quarter wasn’t any better for the Knights, who were still unable to cross the goal line, while the Cavaliers added another two TDs. The goose egg on the scoreboard finally got cracked in the 4th with rushing TDs from both Triplett and Reilly.

Needless to say, this was a learning experience for the Knights, and Coach Derrick had praise for both teams.

“I thought the kids played hard, but we were just outmanned at every spot,” Derrick said after the game. “They’re a damn good football team, but here’s the thing; if we didn’t make a couple of mistakes, it could’ve been 21-14 at the half.”

When the dust settled, Reilly ended the night with around 100 yds in the air and another 50 on the ground. Triplett, despite Calvary’s best efforts, managed to put up in the neighborhood of 150 rushing as well.

Thankfully, the game was injury-free for all intents & purposes, and the Knights are back Under The Oaks at home next week against the 1-1 Tiftarea Academy Panthers, for what should be a much less biblically-lopsided matchup.

Running Wild

By: Jason Bishop

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The Camden County Wildcats improved to 2-0 on the young 2021 season Friday night downing the Glynn Red Terrors 46-21, in a game that was not as close as the score indicates.

In fact, Camden was up on the Red Terrors 31-0 early in the 4th quarter and had dominated the game. At no point were the Red Terrors actually in the game.

The Wildcat Wing-T busted big play after big play against a confused Glynn Academy defense that had no answers for the Wing-T all night long. Camden accumulated 550 total yards Friday night in the win, 476 of that was on the ground.

Camden had 11 different running backs run the ball in total against the Red Terrors. The main damage coming from Jake Lindsey, who rushed 141 yards and 2 touchdowns. Deonte Cole rushed for 87 yards and had a 74-yard touchdown reception, Jamie Felix rushed for 99 yards with a TD and KK Albertie added 44 yards on the ground.

Quarterback Gray Loden only attempted 3 passes and completed the long TD pass to Cole for his second passing TD of the season.

The Red Terrors did score 21 points in the 4th quarter to make the score look respectable.

Tyler Devlin started the game at QB for Glynn but did not finish. Colton Seay Came in late in the game and did provide a spark for the Red Terror offense against a Camden defense that was basically playing a prevent formation the entire 4th quarter.

The Red Terrors did put up 282 total yards of offense most of that from the legs of RB John Moody. Glynn rushed for 228 on the night and 140 of that did come in the 4th quarter.

The Wildcats will return home next week to Chris Gilman Stadium to take on Beacon Hill out of Virginia. Beacon Hill lost their season opener last week 66-0 to Choctaw out of Oklahoma.

Knight Run

By: Jeff Doke

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

To put it mildly, the 2021 season opener for the Frederica Knights was a mixed bag.

On the plus side, the Knights were victorious, defeating their longtime rivals, the Valwood Valiants to the tune of 27-6.

On the downside, the already short-staffed team suffered a significant injury with starting quarterback Thomas Veal breaking his non-throwing arm.

The game started with a long drive from the visiting Valiants. Their opening drive covered 46 yards, notched three first downs, and ate almost half of the quarter off the clock.

The Knights defense bent but didn’t break, and the drive ended on the first of several bad snaps going over the head of the Valwood quarterback.

WR/DB Bryce “Ice” Reilly, who gave the Frederica faithful a present playing on his birthday, made his presence known early & often on the opening drive with his first three tackles of the night. He would at least double that total by the end of the game, as well as tacking on a fumble recovery, an interception, and a touchdown reception. Happy birthday, indeed!

Momentum was difficult to establish early, with the two squads swapping 3 & out drives and a 2 & out from Frederica ending on an interception.

Valwood got on the board first with a 40-yard drive, culminating with a 3-yard QB sneak on the third play of the second quarter.

After that, it became the Jordan Triplett show.

After a solid 13 yd kick return from freshman Hayes Carter, Triplett broke off his first big run of the night, scampering 33 yards to set up a 23-yard touchdown pass four plays later on 4th down from Veal to Triplett, putting the Knights in the lead for good, 7-6

By the end of the half, “The River” Jordan had put up 88 yards on the ground, and Veal had thrown a TD and an INT. Sophomore DL Hamp Thompson evened the turnovers at one apiece with a strip sack in the final moments of the 2nd Quarter.

The first drive after the half saw the return of the “Cherokee & Apache” wildcat formations and a steady stream of Jordan Triplett runs. The 12-play drive would burn more than half of the quarter, Triplett would add another 40 yards to his total, and Veal tossed his second TD of the night, this time to Bryce Reilly.

The next two Valwood drives in the 3rd would end in fumbles, recovered by Reilly and Veal respectively.

To start the 4th, Valwood was stringing together their first extended drive since the 1st.  An interception by Reilly and stacked penalties for unnecessary roughness & unsportsmanlike conduct ended that and set the Knights up at the Valwood 35-yard line.

Two runs from Veal and five from Triplett led to the final score of the night, a nimble 4-yard run thru traffic from #4.

Unofficially, Jordan Triplett had 176 yards on the ground with two TD runs and one TD reception for 23 yards.

Before the injury late in the 4th, Thomas Veal had thrown for two TDs on a mere 35 yards, and had added a fumble recovery on defense.

The injury to his non-throwing arm will be further assessed, but initial speculation is that it will cost the senior 6 weeks of recovery time. That, more than anything is the big takeaway from the night.

With Coach Derrick’s squad coming into the game with only 21 players dressed, the loss of Veal will be noticeable and how Coach Derrick and his staff adapt will be a challenge to say the least.

Albeit a challenge they have overcome before.

Corky Kell Rewind

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The high school football season started last week. The 30th Corky Kell Classic had the first high school game in the nation last Wednesday August 18. Let’s take a look at the results.

Cherokee 52, Mays 6: The 7A Warriors beat up on 4A the Mays Raiders.

West Forsyth 38, Carver-Atlanta 8: This is another matchup with a 7A team, West Forsyth against 3A Carver.

#4 Westlake 29, Archer 14: The Westlake Lions are famous for being Cam Newton’s alma mater. They are a 6A team that beat a 7A opponent.

R.J. Johnson was 12-of-22 passing for 126 yards and two touchdowns. He rushed for 57 yards and two scores.

Jai’Den Thomas rushed for 129 yards and had two sacks and another tackle for a loss. Gannon Weathersby also had two of Westlake’s seven sacks.

#10 Dacula 32, Tucker 7: The Falcons dominated the game and held a 32-0 lead at halftime. Dacula held Tucker to minus-88 yards rushing, negative yardage on six of Tucker’s first 10 drives, and to one yard on two other drives.

Johns Creek 26, Gainesville 10: The one bright spot for Gainesville is they have the best team name, Red Elephants. Other than that, it was all downhill.

#1 Buford 35, #3 North Cobb 27: The Wolves avenged last year’s season opening loss to North Cobb. I picked them to lose this game since it’s a 6A versus 7A matchup but that did not matter.

They trailed 14-0 midway through the third quarter before they scored on five consecutive possessions. They had two one-play drives. C.J. Clinkscales had the longest play of the game, a 66-yard run.

McEachern 53, Kell 20: This was a matchup of two Cobb County teams played at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Kaleb Webb had six receptions for 146 yards and three touchdowns. He also had an 86-yard kickoff return for a TD.

Mill Creek 43, #7 Parkview 10: Both teams are 7A schools in Gwinnett County, but this was their first meeting. Hayden Clark was 14-of-24 passing for 235 yards and three touchdowns.

The Panthers streak of winning 7 consecutive season openers was snapped. Mill Creek held Parkview to minus-20 yards rushing. Kevin Mitchell and Nic Denick had two tackles for losses each worth minus-34 yards.

#9 Walton 34, #6 Lowndes 28: This was the most exciting game. Lowndes scored two touchdowns and recovered an onside kick in the final two minutes of regulation after trailing 28-14. They sent the game to overtime and Sutton Smith scored on a 3-yard touchdown run to win the game. He finished with 85 yards rushing.

Jacurri Butler rushed for 152 yards and a score. He was 10-of-19 passing for 164 yards and three touchdowns, all to Chase Belcher. He almost single handedly kept the Vikings in the game.

Herons To Fly?

By: Jeff Doke

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

At first glance, the 2020 season for the Brantley County Herons looks like it was a painful one.

The lone victory in their 1-9 campaign was a region win, and was enough to give the Herons a spot in the playoffs – something that Head Coach Geoff Cannon is understandably proud of.

“Before I got to Brantley, they had only made the playoffs twice in 50 years,” Coach Cannon explains. “We’ve now made it twice in the last two years. We have to build on that.”

And build they will. The 2021 Herons squad will have a lot of the same names on the roster, but according to the Coach, they won’t look like the same team.

“We’re returning a lot of guys. We were really young up-front last year, and most of those kids are back. We’re bigger, stronger, we hit the nutrition campaign really hard and our offseason weight program went really well.”

Who will be leading the Brantley County team on offense is still somewhat up in the air. Two-way player Kellen Middleton will see most of the snaps on both sides of the ball for the Herons this year, but rising sophomore Kirkland Cannon looks to be in the mix at signal caller as well.

“Kellen is an extremely gifted athlete, but he can’t come off the field,” explains Coach Cannon. “He’s going to play every snap on defense, he’s going to return kicks, he’s going to cover kicks. Once we put the pads on and scrimmage Vidalia, that will tell us what kind of gains we’ve made at the quarterback position to whether Kellen can move to slot receiver or running back and let Kirkland do some things. It will be interesting to see how they’ve developed. They’ve both had an outstanding summer. Kellen’s going to be out there somehow. If he’s not taking snaps, we’ll be throwing it to him or handing it off to him.”

Also, in the mix at Running Back will be second year player Mason Thomas, as well as a highly anticipated freshman Kendall Wright.

“(Kendall) really has a chance to be something special,” says the Coach. “Kendall is one of a bunch of rising freshmen kids that are going to see a healthy amount of Friday night playing time this year.”

As far as Brantley’s receivers go, there’s “a handful of them that are really getting the job done.” Look for WR/DB Brian Hiott to be another player that won’t be coming off the field. Greysen Guy is another second-year receiver that has “looked really good this summer.”

In addition to the slot receivers, the tight end group should make an impact as well. Expect Garrison Chester to show some growth in both blocking and catching this year.

On defense, Ryan Ratliffe will line up as the starting ILB, along with 2-year All-Region selection RJ Bryan. Little Michael Conner will start at OLB, but according to Coach Cannon, he’ll be coming in on some short yardage plays at RB as well.

Other starters will most likely include senior Brian Brantley, Nathan Willis (who will play some linebacker, some defensive back), and Jojo Steedley, who is coming back at DE.

Another 9th grader with high expectations, Carson Jacobsen is set to get some time on the defensive line.

Special Teams look to be different for the Herons this year. Coach Cannon reports that Brian Hiott took over kicking duties during spring practices.

“I’m looking forward to taking some chances in the kicking game, making special teams a true third segment of the game.”

Overall, Coach Cannon expects 2021 to be a much different year for the Herons than 2020.

“This group of kids is a bunch of fun to be around. They like each other, they like football, and they are a lot of fun to coach.”

“We play a tough schedule, but we should be a lot more competitive than we were last year. As bad as we were, there were still some games we should have won. We hope that with the character of this team, we’ll come out on top in those kinds of games this year.”


Red Devils

By: Jeff Doke

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The Glynn Academy Red Terrors finished the 2020 season on a down note.

After a lopsided home loss to Langston Hughes in the 2nd round of the GHSA Playoffs, Terrors Head Coach Rocky Hidalgo had some rather pointed words to some unnamed players and parents.

Seven months later, Coach Hidalgo feels much more positive about his team.

“This is a different football team than what we had last year,” according to Coach Hidalgo. “These kids have been great to work with. We don’t have a lot of the issues that we dealt with last year. “Last year, I was frustrated because I felt like there were some people pulling us in opposite directions from where we needed to go. I think we got some of that stuff corrected. Our kids and parents are ready to go.”

One of those “ready to go” players in particular is newly minted starting Quarterback Tyler Devlin.

“(Tyler) is going to be really good,” beams the Head Coach. “I think when the dust has settled, he looks like he’s going to be a really special player at Glynn Academy. He has the bearing of a leader, leading by example.”

The rising Junior’s targets look to be in good shape as well. WR David Prince is “going to be a really good player” per Coach Hidalgo, but he won’t be the only one.

“Tyson Rooks coming over from the basketball team has a chance to be really special, and Jordan Johnson & Daniel Smiley both had a really good offseason.”

As a coach who has a reputation as a “run first” coach, Coach Hidalgo seems to be leaning towards a committee approach at RB this season.

“We feel like John Moody did some good things for us last year, same thing for Zech Ellis. Jackson Wakeland (who took a year off to focus on wrestling) is back and is really going to help us in the backfield.”

Coach Rock doesn’t seem concerned about the apparent lack of an obvious RB1.

“I like our running backs,” he said without hesitation.  “I don’t think we really have a bellcow like we’ve had in the past, but we have some good solid players in the backfield.”

On the defensive side, the biggest question seems to be in the Linebacker stable.

“We’ve got kids right now that are competing for playing time at MLB,” replied the Coach when asked about Da’Vontae Lang. “(Da’Vontae) is one of them, and he’s got a chance to be really, really good, but you could say the same for Colin Fox, Eriq Cash, Peyton Parker, and Cab Cabiness. We just have to see who’s going to step up & win those jobs.”

There’s somewhat less concern in the defensive backfield, but still room for development.

“We feel good about our Cornerback situation. Tate Rhodes & Kannum Warren played a bunch for us last year at Safety, we feel like we need to develop some depth.

JT Givens and DJ Riley will have a chance to get out on the field and do some good things. I feel good about everything but our depth.”

On Special Teams, “there’s going to be some competition with the Field Goal kicking role,” speculates the Coach.

“Jonathan Sasser is really accurate, whereas Kody Arnold has a really big leg. We like both of those guys, but we have some young kickers that are really good, too. There’s going to be some competition.”

Coach Hidalgo has set some pretty high expectations in his career at Glynn Academy, and those high expectations are ones he welcomes.

“If the expectation isn’t to win the region championship and win the state championship, what do you do this for? Our goal is to go out and win a region championship every year. We’ve been fortunate enough to do that five of the seven years I’ve been here. Our plan is to go out & do that again this year.”

Returning Sting?

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Wayne had a tough season in 2020 finishing with a 3-8 record. The Yellow Jackets ended up with the #4 seed in Region 1-AAAAA and pushed Jones County, a region champion, to the limit before falling 27-25 in the first round of the playoffs. Jones County made it to the final four last year.

One opposing coach this fall had this to say about Wayne “They won’t be decimated by injuries this year like last year and they are well coached. Wayne always has good talent”.

Another area coach had this to say “We have seen them over the summer and they have good skill people and they are big and physical like you always expect Wayne County to be”.

Ken Cribb enters his 5th season as head coach of Wayne County. The Yellow jackets have a 31-14 record during that time with a couple of region championships in 2017 and 2018.

Reclassification in 2020 put Wayne in a brutal AAAAA region that includes Coffee County, Ware County, Warner Robins, and Veterans High School.

Coffee, Ware and Warner Robins are three of the top AAAAA teams in the State and all 3 could be in the top 5 of the preseason rankings.

Improvement in 2021 has to begin on the defensive side of the ball where Wayne gave up 25 points per game last year and over 40 per game in two of their four region contests. If the defense can improve then the win totals will go up.

2021 Schedule/My Predictions:

8/21 @ Statesboro: The game will be played at Georgia Southern University as part of the Erk Russell Classic, I believe. Wayne has handled Statesboro over the past few years and will do so again in 2021. Jackets win a tight one.

8/27 vs Pierce: A defending state champion comes to Jaycee Stadium and gets beat by the home team. Do the power brokers in Jesup take notice or are they secretly flying in Nick Saban to resurrect the program? Jackets go to 2-0.

9/3 vs Richmond Hill: Wayne has beaten Richmond Hill recently and came close to doing so last year. Wayne goes to 3-0 with a big home win over the 7A playing in 6A Wildcats.

9/10 @ South Effingham: Jackets roll over the Mustangs. Wayne goes to 4-0.

9/16 @ Benedictine: Give me Benedictine at home in this one. Folks who know High School football in these parts understand why. Jackets drop to 4-1.

9/24 @ Appling: Rivalry game in Baxley. Appling is breaking in a new head coach and this one could go either way. Give me the Jackets in a tight one. Wayne goes to 5-1.

10/8 vs Veterans: Jackets at home should win this one. Wayne goes to 6-1 and clinches a playoff berth.

10/15 vs. Coffee: Coffee is coming off a huge home game with Ware the week before. Could they overlook the Jackets? I’m putting Coffee on upset alert, but they get it done over Wayne. Wayne serves notice around the state that they will not be an easy out come playoff time. Jackets drop to 6-2.

10/22 @ Warner Robins: Jackets are not ready for prime time on the road here. Drop to 6-3

11/5 @ Ware County: Ware is elite. Wayne finds that out in Memorial Stadium in Waycross. Jackets drop to 6-4 and enter the playoffs as a dangerous #4 seed from region 1-AAAAA.

Interesting Wayne County football facts. Wayne has 2 State Titles in 1954 and 1959.

John Donaldson is viewed as the best coach in Wayne County history with two state titles and five region titles in 18 seasons.

When Ken Cribb won back-to-back region titles in 2017 and 2018 the last Wayne County coach to accomplish that feat was Donaldson in 1976.

From 2017-19 Ken Cribb won 28 games. That is the best three year run in Wayne County football history. Wayne County plays in the best AAAAA region in the state of Georgia. Put that in perspective.

Arming The Ship

By: Buck Blanz

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The McIntosh County Academy Buccaneers went 7-3 a year ago with their season ending in the first round of the playoffs against Clinch County 23-17.

The Buccaneers, after finishing the season with a 1-9 record in 2018, have made two consecutive state playoff appearances as they look to take the next step forward as a program.

What does that next step look like for the Buccaneers? Well, when I spoke to Head Coach Bradley Warren, he emphasized that they need to learn how to win ‘the big game’ as their team goal is “to go from good to great”.

Before Bradley Warren arrived at McIntosh County Academy, the football program seemed to be in disarray and didn’t have much determination and enthusiasm surrounding them.

However, since Coach Bradley Warren arrived at McIntosh County Academy, the football program has definitely seen promising progression from more areas than just one.

To start, Coach Warren has taken them to their first playoff appearances since the 2016 season and hoping to continue improvement. Also, with Warren’s double-slot offensive scheme, as well as how many players play both offense and defense, it allows for many, if not all, of his players to show their dynamic playing-making ability on both sides of the ball.

When I asked Coach Warren about who has impressed him the most throughout this offseason, without hesitation he answered with Austin Crosby.

The 6’1” 185-pound Senior from Darien, GA will be one of the Buccaneers most dynamic players all season long and is certainly a kid to keep tabs on.

Crosby plays quarterback, running back, as well as safety for the Buccaneers giving him many chances to showcase his versatility on the field as a top playmaker.

For the third straight season, the Buccaneers will open their season against two Glynn County powerhouses in (8/20) Glynn County and (8/27) Brunswick High, both of which are also from the much larger 6A GHSA classification and should prove to be their biggest test of the season.

The bright side of playing your toughest games early in the year is you will know what kind of team you have early, however, what is different about this season is how they will have both games played in the comfort of their own home stadium.

The Buccaneers have five of their first six games of the season scheduled to be home games, with their only away game being against Claxton, who finished third place right behind McIntosh County Academy in the region-3 standings a year ago.

McIntosh County Academy faces arguably their toughest test outside of Glynn County on October 15th, the Buccaneers must travel and face-off against the reigning region champs, the Metter High School Tigers, who made it to the final four before losing to Irwin County 44-10.

The Buccaneers will close out their regular season campaign with two road games against Portal, who forfeited a year ago, as well as Jenkins County who the Bucs beat 41-20 last season and should expect largely the same result.

Look out for Coach Bradley Warren and the Buccaneers led by Austin Crosby, as they look to take their program from “good to great”.

Pouncing Cats

By: Jason Bishop

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The Camden County Wildcat football program underwent a metamorphosis this past offseason.

Bob Sphire resigned as Head Coach and Camden hired legend Jeff Herron to replace him. The Spread Offense becomes a thing of the past for Camden and they will re-institute the Wing-T Offense. You will also see less finesse play and more of a ‘smashmouth’ brand of football in Kingsland.

Sphire was coming off of a 5-6 season with the Wildcats. He took Camden to 3 playoff appearances during his 4-year tenure. Those 3 playoff appearances ended up all being losses in the first round to Walton, Marietta and Parkview, respectively.

Sphire was 23-20 during his time at Camden, but was 3-9 in the region. Sphire’s only wins in the region were against Tift County. He was 3-1 against the Blue Devils.

Sphire went 0-8 against region foes and powerhouses Lowndes and Colquitt in his time as head coach.

And so, the page turns and enters the Camden new coach, Jeff Herron.

Herron was the head coach at Camden from 2000-2012. During his tenure with the Wildcats, he won 12 straight region titles and 3 state championships.

The legendary coach returns to Camden with a career record of 312-54.

During Herron’s first stay in Kingsland, he had a record 154-18. At one point the Wildcats won 58 straight regular season games under Herron, which is a Georgia record.

Herron had the Wildcats ranked inside the top 25 nationally six different seasons and the Camden program was named the program of the decade in the state of Georgia in the 2000’s.

The Wildcats are going to get back to being a run-oriented team and will have Senior, Jamie Felix to lead the way at running back. Felix has been recruited by everyone that matters and will be the main weapon in Jeff Herron’s offense.

Camden will head over to TitleTown, USA to take on Valdosta in a scrimmage on August 13.

The Wildcats kickoff for real the next week on August 20th against Columbia at Chris Gilman Stadium in Kingsland.

Camden will host Beacon Hill (VA), Oakleaf (FL), Warner Robins, Colquitt and Lowndes. The Wildcats will pay visits to Glynn, Marietta, Coffee, and Tift.

My prediction is that Jeff Herron will be able to get the building blocks in place this season to make state title runs in the following two seasons. Look for Camden to finish 8-4 with a #2 seed in the region, a home playoff game in the first round and a playoff win.

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