Chip Harp, Valdosta Today Editor:
Those of us who were raised in South Georgia like to remember tales of us, our fathers and friends and how we, at various times, showed the rest of the state where the best football is played. However, as time has passed, larger and better funded programs from North Georgia have changed that perception to some degree.
But not this year as Region 1-AA returns South Georgia to football elite as both Brooks County and Fitzgerald hold 2 of the final 4 spots in the state football playoffs.
Having had my son play for Brooks County coach Maurice Freeman, I can appreciate what he means to that school and the entire community. Having also been a neighbor of Freeman, I can also personally attest to what a fine man he is off the field as well, especially in the lives of so many young people in Quitman and the county.
He can also coach some mean football.
The Trojans have pushed through to the Final Four again this season and will host the Cadets of Benedictine. The Savannah school knocked off perennial powerhouse Lovett handily last week for the right to travel to Quitman.
Brooks County defeated Heard County 35-34 in a game that went back and forth all night, and was ultimately decided on a missed PAT in the fourth quarter. (Did I note that my son kicked for Freeman, who himself also kicked for Florida A&M?). Who said the kicking game isn’t important at every level?
Heard County had a chance to tie the game after Duranta Dunson ran for his fifth touchdown of the night. As the teams lined up for the PAT, Brooks County was flagged for an offsides penalty, which prompted the Heard County coaching staff to opt for a go-ahead two-point conversion.
Another flag was thrown as this time the Braves were penalized for delay of game. So Heard County sent the kicking team back out, only to miss the PAT.
Wait, it’s not over yet. Brooks County was called for roughing the kicker on the play. Would Heard County have new life?
No, the flag was picked up, the missed kick stood, and after stopping Heard County in the waning minutes, Brooks emerged with a one-point win and a trip to the semifinals to face the Cadets.
Brooks County quarterback Demontay Jones accounted for all five of the Brooks County’s touchdowns, throwing for three and running for two.
Fitzgerald has now scored at least 42 points in each of its seven straight wins since falling to Thomasville in Region play. During that span, they’ve averaged 50.3 points per game.
Purple Hurricanes quarterback Gerald Morgan topped 2,000 rushing yards for the season in the win.
Fitzgerald now faces mighty Greater Atlanta Christian who many favor as the likely champions. However, that’s coming from the North Georgia press.
Let’s hope our boys can make a little South Georgia football magic once again.