Ware County Gators

Round of 16

By: Jason Bishop

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The second round of High School Football playoffs approaches this week. Here are previews for the games this round for our area teams in southeast Georgia.

Coffee County Trojans @ Mays Raiders: Coffee County finished with the number 3 seed from the vaunted 1-6A region. That region includes Valdosta, Lee, Houston and Northside Warner Robins.

The Trojans enter the second round at 8-3 and looking to get a shot at the winner of Stephenson and Allatoona in the round of 8.

However, in order to do that Coffee will have to get through Mays, no easy task.

Mays is 10-1 and the region champ from region 5-6A. This game will also be played in Atlanta as Coffee is a 3 seed and Mays is a 1 seed. The Raiders have wins against Creekside, South Paulding and Northgate on the season.

Despite the fact Mays is a region champ, I think the Trojans will win this game and move on to the Elite 8. This will be a war.

            Lanier Longhorns @ Richmond Hill Wildcats: Richmond Hill won region 2-6A and carries a one seed. Most did not expect the Wildcats to win the region, but they did.

Richmond Hill is 7-3 on the season after the first-round win over 4 seed ML King. The Wildcats best win is probably against region foe Glynn Academy, who also is still playing.

Lanier is the 2 seed from region 8-6A. The only loss of the season for the Longhorns is to powerhouse and region champ Dacula.

Lanier’s best win probably came last week against a 6-5 Sprayberry team. The Longhorns schedule was very soft this season. They are currently 10-1. Lanier will be heading to Richmond Hill from Sugar Hill, not a short trip.

This might be closer than most think, but I will take Lanier to move on.

Glynn Academy Red Terrors @ Dacula Falcons: By most standards, Glynn has had a subpar season. The Terrors finished the season 5-4 and a 2 seed in region 2-6A.

The Red Terrors have come to expect region championships and deep playoff runs under head coach Rocky Hidalgo.

The Red Terrors dominated a tough Tucker team in the first round 31-7 at Glynn County Stadium.

Now Glynn will head up to Atlanta to battle with the number 1 seed from region 8-6A, the Dacula Falcons.

The Falcons are currently unbeaten (11-0), and have beaten Lanier, Dalton, and 7A playoff team Mill Creek.

This is tough test for Glynn. Plus, the Red Terrors will have to venture up to Atlanta for this game. I will take Dacula in a close game.

Brunswick High Pirates @ Harrison Hoyas: The Pirates got off to tough start this season, but rebounded and made the playoffs as the 3 seed from region 2-6A. The Pirates are 6-5 on the season and won their first playoff game since 2010 last week against Morrow, 34-13.

This week Brunswick will head to Kennesaw to take on undefeated Harrison (11-0).

The Hoyas are the number one seed from region 6-6A. Harrison is currently enjoying a stretch of success that dates back to when Justin Fields was their QB.

Harrison has beaten Sprayberry, Dalton, Allatoona and last week ended the season of Winder-Barrow.

The Pirates best win of the season came last week with the Morrow win.

This is going to be tough one for the Pirates. I will take Harrison to move on.

Buford Wolves @ Ware County Gators: Ware comes into this game 8-3 and the number one seed from region 2-5A.

The Gators rebounded from a tough start to the season and went through region play to win the region.

Last week Ware struggled with 4 seed Ola but pulled away late to advance. Waiting for them is powerhouse Buford.

Buford is 10-1. That loss was to Clarke County Central, which lost the region for the Wolves. Buford, instead, earned a 2 seed and will be heading to the Swamp in Waycross to take on the Gators.

The wins the Wolves have season reads as a “Who’s who” of high school powers in North Georgia. That list includes Milton, Newton, Archer, Cedar Shoals, and Decatur.

Ware’s best win is Wayne County. Ware may be overmatched here.

I will take Buford to move on to the Elite 8.

            Wayne County Yellow Jackets @ Clarke County Central Gladiators: The Yellow Jackets have been a tough team to figure out this season.

Certain weeks they have looked like a serious state title contender and others weeks not so much.

Wayne is 8-2 on the season and ended up with the 2 seed from region 2-5A.

The Yellow Jackets took down Stockbridge last week in a game I gave them no chance of winning. Yet, they did and moved on the round of 16.

Waiting for them is the number one seed from region 8-6A, Clarke County Central. The Gladiators are 8-3 on the season and beat Lithia Springs last week, 63-34.

Clarke Central will be a tough out for Wayne, but is beatable.  This should be a tough, tight game.

The Yellow Jackets will have to go to Athens to play this game and that could be the difference.  I will take Clarke Central in a nail biter.

Playoffs?

By: Jason Bishop

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

And here we go. The GHSA football playoffs kick off Friday night and here is a run down of area teams and their matchups in the first round.

 

Frederica Academy Knights @ Southland Academy Raiders: Southland ended up with the 2 seed in region 3 AAA in GISA. The Raiders upset TiftArea in the final game of the year to earn that seed.

The Knights wore down against Bulloch is the regular season finale and comes into the playoffs having lost 2 straight. The Knights finished the season 4-5, the first losing regular season for the program since 2014. Southland finished 6-4.

Despite having to travel all the way to Americus for this game, I like the Knights to win a close game and advance to the second round of the GISA playoffs.

ECI Bulldogs @ MCA Buccaneers: What a great turn around season for MCA under first year coach Bradley Warren. The Bucs finished the season 5-5, a vast improvement from 2018.

MCA also earned a first-round playoff home game at the Ship and the overall 13 seed out of 24 in GHSA A-Public.

ECI plays in the same region as MCA and lost their cross over game against Savannah Calvary Day. The Bulldogs finished with a 5-5 mark on the season as well. However, three of those losses came to higher division schools…Metter, Vidalia and Dublin. Those losses also came in the first three weeks of the season.

This is will be a tall order for the Bucs. Look for ECI to advance and pull away late, but the future is bright in Darien.

Brantley County Herons @ Peach County Trojans: Brantley makes the playoffs for the first time since in forever. The Herons grabbed the four seed from region 2-3A.

Unfortunately, awaiting the Herons in the first round is powerhouse Peach County. Peach went 9-1 in the regular season and won region 4-3A. Brantley finished 5-5 under Coach Geoff Cannon.

Aside from Brantley having to travel to Fort Valley for this game, the Herons went 1-3 on the road this season. I do not see the Herons escaping the Trojans.

Central Chargers @ Pierce County Bears: Pierce had a tremendous season under first year coach Ryan Herring. The Bears finished 10-0 and blew out most everyone they played. Pierce earned the number one seed in region 2-3A.

Central, from Macon, finished with a losing record of 3-7 and earned the 4 seed from region 4-3A.

I do not look for this game to be close at any point. Pierce will win handily and earn their way to the second round.

Ola Mustangs @ Ware County Gators: The Ware County Gators had an up and down season but played well in the region portion of their schedule to earn the number one seed in region 2-5A. They did so by blowing the #2 seed from the region, Wayne County in the season finale.

The Gators will welcome the Ola Mustangs to the Swamp in Waycross.

Ola went 7-3 on the regular season and that was only good enough for the 4 seed out of region 4-5A. It is not often you see a 7-3 four seed.

The Gators finished 7-3 themselves on the season. I see potential for an upset written all over this game, but I will take Ware at home in tough fought first round win.

Stockbridge Tigers @ Wayne County Yellow Jackets: Wayne earned the number 2 seed in region 2-5A but should still be licking its’ wounds after getting throttled by Ware County last week.

The Yellow Jackets will as well host a team from region 4-5A in Stockbridge. The Tigers finished 7-3 and are the 3 seed from that region.

Wayne finished the season with a 7-2 record, they lost a game in the regular season due to the hurricane.

I think Stockbridge is very good and they will be a tough test for the Yellow Jackets. I will take Stockbridge to move on.

Tucker Tigers @ Glynn Academy Red Terrors: Tucker will take the trip to Glynn County Stadium to play Glynn. The Red Terrors had a roller coaster year and finished 5-4 on the season, which was good for the 2 seed from region 2-6A.

Tucker finished 6-4 and lost to Stephenson in the final game of the year to lose the region championship for region 4-6A. With that loss, it took Tucker all the way from potential champs to the 3 seed.

Both of these teams have had a down year compared to where the bar is normally at for these programs.

Tucker’s region was a little tougher than Glynn’s region and the Tigers lost a tight game to region champ Stephenson last week. I will take the Tucker Tigers to move into the second round in a very good game.

Brunswick High Pirates @ Morrow Mustangs: Brunswick High made the playoffs for the first time in a couple of years as the 3 seed from region 2-6A.

The Pirates finished the season 5-5 and have had 2 weeks to prepare for the playoffs and get healthy.

Morrow dumptrucked MLK 39-13 last week to earn the 2 seed from region 4-6A. Once Stephenson beat Tucker for the region, the Mustangs were able to move up to the 2 seed as they beat Tucker head to head in the regular season.

Morrow finished 6-4 on the regular season.

This may end up being a break for the Pirates, getting Morrow instead of Tucker. We will see, but I am picking the Pirates to win their first playoff game in the Sean Pender era against Morrow.

Camden County Wildcats @ Marietta Blue Devils: Camden had a great season finishing 8-2 on the season. The only 2 losses came at the hands of region foes Colquitt and Lowndes, both powerhouses.

Those losses pushed Camden to the 3 seed in region 1-7A.

The Wildcats will head up to Atlanta to take on the Marietta Blue Devils. Marietta finished the season 8-2 and those losses came at the hands of powerhouses Grayson and McEachern.

The Blue Devils are the 2 seed from region 3-7A. What a great first round game. I will take Camden to take down Marietta on the road but in a close defensive struggle.

Southeast Georgia High School Week 5 Round Up

By: Jason Bishop

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Week 5 of the high school football season played out last night. Here are the games from around southeast Georgia.

Wayne County @ Appling County: Wayne County left the ranks of the unbeaten last week, going down to Glynn Academy. The Yellow Jackets will renew their rivalry with Appling.

Appling came into this game undefeated.

The Pirates dominated the first half and went into the locker room up 24-7 over the favored Yellow Jackets.

That lead would not last. Wayne County scored the 26 points and knocked Appling from the ranks of the unbeatens, 33-24.

Brunswick @ New Hampstead: Brunswick High is coming off a 48-20 loss to Camden, in a game that should have been closer, but the Pirates could not get out of their own way.

The Pirates took to the road to Pooler in hopes of getting their season back on track against the Phoenix.

New Hampstead scored on 2 turnovers in the first half and returned a kick to get up on the Pirates 19-7 early in the 3rd quarter.

The Pirates would not quit and came all the way back to take a 21-19 lead late in the 4th and would tack on later. Brunswick scored the last 22 points of the game to win 29-19.

The Pirates are now 2-3 on the season.

Calvary Day @ MCA: MCA is coming off their first win of the season, a 32-0 blowout of Jenkins County. The Buccaneers were hoping the momentum would carry over against Calvary Day at The Ship in Darien.

MCA’s defense played great, only down 7-0 at the half.

The Buccaneers kept fighting in the back and forth with Calvary Day. MCA took a 21-20 lead late in the 4th. However, Calvary Day responded to go back up 28-20. That would be the final. MCA falls to 1-3 on the season.

Berrien @ Brantley County: The last time we saw Brantley County on the field they were taking their first loss of the season from Jeff Davis, who was also undefeated at the time.

The Herons hosted Berrien looking to prove they are for real.

Berrien made it difficult for the Herons, taking a 17-7 lead into the half.

That would not last as Brantley battled back and would take down Berrien 31-24.

The Herons record improved to 3-1.

Ware County @ Glynn Academy: A huge rivalry game at Glynn County Stadium, in which Glynn Academy has owned recently. Ware County has looked underwhelming to this point and really needed this win on the road.

The Gators came out on a mission and took a 21-0 lead into the half.

The Terrors offense could never get going against the Ware defense and the Gators got a much needed win to bring their record at 3-2. The Terrors fall to 2-2. The final 35-13 in favor of Ware.

South Effingham @ Pierce County: Both South Effingham and Pierce entered into this game undefeated. South Effingham hasn’t been getting a lot respect despite their perfect record. A win at Pierce would change that.

The Mustangs held their own and went into halftime tied 7-7 with the Bears.

Pierce pulled away in the second half and gave South Effingham their first loss of the year, 42-28. The Mustangs fall to 4-1 and Pierce goes to 5-0.

Friday Night Lights Come On

By: Jason Bishop

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

High School Football finally kicked off on Friday night. There were several key games from around the area.

Frederica Knights @ Charlton County Indians: The game of the week pitted the defending GISA AAA state champion Frederica Knights against perennial power Charlton County.

The Knights almost knocked off the Indians last season on St. Simons but fell by a touchdown.

This time the Knights headed down to swamp in Folkston and turned the ball over 4 times and could never make that one big play against the Indians defense to get things rolling. Charlton walked away with a 20-7 victory over the Knights.

Rockledge @ Ware County: The Ware County Gators came in with expectations for 2019. However, the Gators dropped their opener at home to Rockledge from Florida 19-7. Rockledge was a 5A semi-finalist in the state Florida last season.

The Jason Strickland era has begun in Ware.

Coffee @ Brunswick: The evening started with the Home Broadcast Booth being dedicated to long time Brunswick High broadcaster, Teddy Bishop. That would be the biggest highlight of the night for Brunswick.

The Coffee County Trojans have dominated the Pirates over the last several years and this game would not end that trend. Coffee went to Glynn County Stadium and put 38 points on the board en route to a 38-21 win over the Pirates.

The Pirates are hoping to rebound from a 3-7 2018 season.

MCA @ Pierce: The MCA Buccaneers scored the first touchdown of the night but it would be the last one they scored. Pierce would score 49 unanswered points to take the win 49-7.

The Bucs did show some signs of improvement. Don’t forget MCA is a rebuilding program.

Camden @ West Forsythe: The Camden County Wildcats beat West Forsythe last season and was hoping for the same result. That result would be accomplished as the Wildcats barraged the Wolverines. The Wildcats put up a touchdown, in what seemed to be every few minutes.

Camden starts off on the right foot downing West Forsythe in impressive fashion 44-6.

Glynn @ Fort Dorchester: The Red Terrors come into the 2019 season with high expectations, but the offense struggled in this contest.

Glynn made the long trip to Charleston, SC and was only able to muster 6 points against Fort Dorchester and went down to the Patriots 31-6.

Coaching Carousel

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

There have been many high school football head coach openings in South Georgia this offseason. The biggest opening was at national high school power Colquitt County.

On March 14, 2019, Rush Propst was relieved of his duties as the high school’s head football coach in a unanimous vote by the Colquitt County Board of Education.

His dismissal followed an investigation that determined he had violated the Code of Ethics for Educators for legal compliance, conduct with students, honesty, and public funds and property; including giving pills to students “on more than one occasion” and owing nearly $450,000 in delinquent federal and state taxes.

The Colquitt job became a hot topic around the state, and rumors swirled in Glynn County for a few weeks as Colquitt showed some interest in Glynn Academy head coach Rocky Hidalgo. Hidalgo ended the speculation by announcing he had no intentions of leaving Glynn Academy.

After an extensive search, The Colquitt County Board of Education voted unanimously to hire Jones County head coach Justin Rogers.

Rogers, in five seasons at Jones County, has become the most successful coach in school history with a record of 45-15. He’s not had a single losing season at the school; his teams have gone 10-3, 9-2, 7-5, 11-2 and 8-3.

In the post-season, the Greyhounds have gone 5-5 under his leadership. Rogers will inherit a talent rich program and will move into a community that is as rabid for high school football as you will ever find. Expect Rogers to keep that program near or at the top of its classification. Great hire by the Packers.

Over at Ware County, Jason Strickland has been named the head coach for the Ware County Gators, after leading Pierce County for two years and leading the Bears to the third round of the state playoffs in 2018.

Strickland was the offensive coordinator for some great Charlton County teams, then he took the Lamar County job in 2008 and took that program from 1 win in 2008 to a 12-1 season in 2011. He took over at Fitzgerald in 2012 and led that program to back to back State title game appearances in 2015 and 2016.

Strickland took over at Pierce County in 2017 and in 2018 led the Bears to a 13-1 record, which is the best in school history.

He has been a head coach for 11 seasons and compiled a 99-39-1 career record. Strickland coached teams have won 10 or more games in 6 of 11 seasons he has been a head coach.

Strickland inherits a talented roster and he should be able to come in and contend for a state title immediately. Jason Strickland is the 15th Head Football Coach in Ware County history.

Pierce County, with the departure of Strickland, hired Ryan Herring as the new head football coach. Herring was head coach at Oxford, Alabama where his teams made multiple playoff appearances.

Herring coached five-star UGA signee Clay Webb, who was rated as one of the top offensive linemen in the nation during the 2109 recruiting cycle.

Look for Herring to continue the winning ways at Pierce County and build his winning brand of football in Blackshear.

And finally, this week Tony Glazer resigned as head coach at McIntosh County Academy.

The McIntosh County School Board chose Bradley Warren to replace him.

Let Spring Football begin!

Glynn Academy Beats Ware….Again

By: Christian Goeckel

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

What a difference a week can make. Glynn’s 31- 7 victory over Ware County was a huge momentum boost after the week one loss to Benedictine.

This time last week some were wondering if the success of Glynn’s past three seasons was behind them. Now those same people are wondering just how far the Terrors can go.

The Gators of Ware County came into this game under the impression that they were facing a down team. Instead, they ran into a meat grinder of a team that was looking to take it’s frustrations out on someone.

Offensively, Glynn was finally able to get the ball moving down hill. Coach Hidalgo stressed all week the importance of getting the dive game going. Well they did, and a whole lot more.

Like Denzel Washington’s Coach Boone said in “Remember the Titans”, the option offense is like novocaine, “Just give it time, always works.”, and work it did. Glynn rushed to the tune of 303 yards and were a couple shoestring tackles away from a lot more. Caine Crews was the bell cow, rushing 21 times for 139 yards.

The offensive line, which Coach Rock credited with a good performance last week, was borderline dominant in this one. Glynn running backs consistently found huge holes to run through.

Passing the ball wasn’t necessary much of the game, but when they did Jernigan looked more comfortable. Jernigan completed 2 of 3 attempts, but it was the noticeably different pace on the ball that has to be encouraging for Glynn as his injured right shoulder continues to heal.

Defensively, it was very much a bend but don’t break mindset in the first half. Gator’s quarterback Jeremiah O’hara was able to move his team up and down the field, but Glynn always came away with a 3rd down stop or turnover. Diandrez Wilcox was a huge part of that, forcing two fumbles and recovering one.

The return of linebacker Cameron McClellan can’t be overstated. His play was sorely missed, but his presence was missed even more. The defense looked much more comfortable behind his direction, along with that of Hunter Hall.

Once Glynn’s offense got going, the Terror’s defense was able to pin its ears back and attack as Ware had to pass more. E.J. Thomas constantly harassed the Ware County backs behind the line of scrimmage.

Just like last year, Glynn was able to steady itself against Ware after a week one loss, but this one seemed different. This game was a statement that the Terrors are not a team to be forgotten or looked over.

This team has studs all over the field and more coming back from injuries weekly. Glynn started to find it’s footing this week and everyone else in Southeast Georgia should be on notice.

Glynn Academy now goes on the road for the first time this year. Their opponent, Tift County, has outscored their opponents 76-7 in their first two games. The game will kick off at 7:30.

Sophomore running back Nolan Grant is getting more comfortable, rushing for 64 yards including a 20 yard touchdown.

Freshman Caden Hutchinson punched in his first career touchdown in the fourth.

Senior running back Tyler Grant returned from last year’s ACL injury. He played sparingly and left the field with what appeared to be a leg injury, but returned to the game.

Cameron McClellan returned to action nursing a foot injury. The injury isn’t expected to cost him anymore game time.

For the second year in a row, after allowing points in the first, Glynn was able to shut the Gators out in the final three quarters.