By Rory Sharrock
As the season comes to a close, every game from here on out takes on a playoff-type atmosphere.
For the Mt. Zion Bulldogs (6-3, 5-2), this vibe will continue into November as they ran past Alcovy (4-4, 3-3) 32-15 Friday on Senior Night at Tara Stadium to clinch a playoff berth for the first time since 2004.
"To see where we were last year and to look at the progress that's been made, its just proof positive that when you focus on the little things, kids will respond to anything you demand of them," said Mt. Zion head coach Jarrett Laws. "I think you have to be family first. Everything we do is evidence - we're family. More alumni have come around since I've taken over than any other year. They crave to be here, because we embrace all of our family."
The Bulldogs' 1-2 punch in the backfield of Quartterio Morgan and Josh King, who also star on the 4x100-meter relay team, turned Friday's football game into their personal track meet, as they ran for two touchdowns respectively to set the tone for the win.
"We just worked hard during practice. Our coach (Laws) gave us a great motivational speech before we came out here. It was Senior Night and we had to win. We condition every day like dogs, even on off days we still condition. I just never get tired," said King.
With the game tied at 7-7 heading into the second quarter, Mt. Zion wide out Drexel Copeland went in motion from sideline to sideline before pulling down Jarrel King's pass and taking it 63 yards to the end zone. The extra point was missed, however, and the Bulldogs led 13-7.
Mt. Zion added another score when Morgan broke free for a 70-yard run all the way down to the 2-yard line.
Two plays later after a false start call, King spun through the defense for a 7-yard touchdown and a 19-7 lead at the half.
Midway through the third, Morgan showed he had as much power as speed by stomping over the defense for a 60-yard score.
Alcovy put a dent in the scoreboard when quarterback Tolen Rodrick busted out for a 26-yard touchdown scramble up the middle, cutting the deficit to 25-15 after a successful 2-point conversion.
However, Morgan wasn't finished displaying his gifted skills as a runner, as he added a 56-yard touchdown to the stat sheet which sealed the game for the Bulldogs.
"The offensive line took care of us, so we took care of the line," said Morgan. "This is a huge win. We just have to stay humble and positive. This is a huge win."
Mt. Zion now has sole possession of second place in Region 4-AAAA with one game remaining on the schedule at Ola on Oct. 31.
If Jonesboro falls to North Clayton on Thursday and Stockbridge on Nov. 7, the Bulldogs will host a first-round playoff game at Tara Stadium.