Bulldogs used to being road warriors

By Doug Gorman

Jackie Green is winding down his coaching career.

If the Mt. Zion head coach has his way, however, retirement can wait another five weeks.

That would be just enough time for Green to cap his already successful coaching career with a state championship.

For Green to extend his coaching career, his 8-2 football team will have to get past undefeated Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe on the road Friday night in the first round of the Class AAAA playoffs.

Mt. Zion comes into the game with an 8-2 record and as the No.3-seed team out of Region 5-AAAA.

Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe enters with a 10-0 record.

Despite its perfect record, the Warriors had to settle for the No.-2 seed out of Region 7-AAAA after losing a coining toss to Rome, which also finished undefeated in the subdivided league.

Green, who just won his 100th game as the Bulldogs' coach, likes the way the two teams match up.

"I don't think there are too many differences between a No.-2 seed and a No.-3 seed team," Green said.

One place there is absolutely no difference is on offense where both squad run the Wing-T.

It's an offense Green has found success with ever since he signed on as the Bulldogs' coach when the school opened in 1989.

With the 41-12 victory against North Atlanta last week, Green became just the second coach in Clayton County history to win more than 100 games. Bill Kennedy, Green's former boss at Riverdale, was the first, posting 102 wins. Both records include the first year at their respective schools when they played non-region schedules.

Mt. Zion senior defensive back Jamaal Clark said it was exciting getting his coach his 100th victory.

"That was special," he said. "We should have done it much sooner."

Clark and his teammates were delivered a wake-up call with a 25-14 loss to Washington High School.

That loss spoiled any chances the Bulldogs had for opening the playoffs at home.

Hitting the road for the playoffs, however, is nothing new for the Bulldogs.

Since beating Josey 32-8 in the second round of the playoffs in 1999, the Bulldogs have played eight straight playoffs games on the road, including last year's game at Camden County, the eventual state champions.

"We would like to be home, but we are used to going on the road for the playoffs," said Green.

In 1999, the Bulldogs played their last three games away from Clayton County, including a 10-7 win against Marist in the Georgia Dome during the state semifinals, and again the following week at Oconee County in a 17-7 loss in the state title game.

Going on the road, certainly didn't bother the Bulldogs in the first round of the 2000 season. The Bulldogs beat Camden County 28-16 and Valdosta 34-14.

Their season ended in 2000 when it stayed on the road and lost to Harrison 24-17.

For the road to be kind to the Bulldogs this year, Mt. Zion will have to stop a Warriors team which outscored its opponents 393-129 this season.

Mt. Zion has displayed a potent offense too. Scoring 278 points through its 10 games.

The Bulldogs also pitched two shutouts, keeping both Jonesboro and Forest Park off the scoreboard.

"We just want to get a ring," said Clark. "That my goal. That would be a great way to send coach Green into retirement, and great way for us to end the season."