Local teams gear up for second-round of playoffs

From Staff Reports

The Eagle's Nest

Tara Stadium was decorated with a life-sized N-C logo at midfield while the end zones featured a blue and red checker board in honor of North Clayton winning the Region 4-AAAA title and home field advantage.

The Eagles blew out Richmond Academy 41-14 in the first round of the Class AAAA state playoffs and will return to Tara this Friday for a second round game versus Statesboro.

Both teams are mirror images of themselves that rely on a strong running game and a physical defensive approach. North Clayton and Statesboro feature identical 10-1 records and are giving up only nine points per outing.

- Rory Sharrock

Four Equals Two

Mt. Zion head coach Jarrett Laws says his team is a No. 2 seed with a No. 4 ranking and it showed as the Bulldogs knocked off previously unbeaten and state-ranked Evans 36-10 to advance to the second round of the postseason.

This was Mt. Zion's first playoff victory since beating Valdosta 34-14 in the second round on Nov. 24, 2000.

Heading into the final week of the regular season, Mt. Zion was in position to wrap up a No. 2 seed and host a first-round game, but the Bulldogs fell 27-26 at Ola, dropping them to the No. 4 slot.

This Friday, Mt. Zion hits the road once again for a second-round contest at Ware County in Waycross.

- Rory Sharrock

Triple Play

Jonesboro completed the Clayton County triple play when it edged out host Hephzibah 18-17 this past Friday. Cliff Crews scored two touchdowns, the defense recorded a safety and kicker Eric Cheney drilled a field goal to pace the Cardinals to victory.

The Cards now must travel southbound on Interstate 75 to face Westside-Macon.

Not only did all the Clayton County playoff teams win Friday night, but with Griffin's 26-0 triumph over Glenn Hills, every school from Region 4-AAAA went undefeated in the first round, winning by a combined score of 121-41.

- Rory Sharrock

Warhawks Get 'Wake-up Call'

In its final two games of the regular season, Henry County had outscored its opponents 100-10 against teams that finished as bottom-dwellers in Region 4-AA. Not quite the sort of tune-up games to help prepare the Warhawks for a playoff run.

So players and coaches talked about the importance of their 34-25 victory over a dogged Laney team from one of Class AA's preeminent regions in the first round.

"It gave us a wake-up call," Running back Quan Jones said, "cause the last two games we played weren't really nothing, so our team got a little big-headed at practice."

Henry County (10-1) was outgained by Laney 415-301 in total yards of offense, but they rallied with key plays on special teams and third-downs to hold-off the Wildcats.

"I think it's good for us," Wide receiver Markeith Ambles said. "It gives us something to build on for the next round."

-Brian Paglia

Little Inches Toward Record

Henry County quarterback Drew Little continued his assault on the Georgia state record for career passing yards in the Warhawks' 34-25 first-round playoff victory at home Friday night.

Little completed 12 of 22 passes for 165 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Little's career total stands at 8,753 career passing yards, 309 yards away from Zach Stanford's mark of 9,062 set during his high school career at Metter from 2001-04.

-Brian Paglia

Defense wins championships

ELCA kept its season alive with a 17-6 victory against Darlington in the first round of the Class A playoffs.

The Chargers can point to its defense as one reason it lived to play another day, ELCA forced five turnovers en route to the win.

They now play Lincoln County on the road Friday night.

-Doug Gorman

Seems like old times

The Eagle's Landing Christian Academy football team is headed for a second-round matchup against Class A state power Lincoln County.

ELCA has been down this road before. The two teams clashed in a second-round playoff game in 2006 with Lincoln County winning the contest 34-O.

Lincoln has been a powerhouse for nearly four decades.

Head coach Larry Campbell has guided the Red Devils to 14 state titles and a 423-72-3 record.

- Doug Gorman