By Derrick Mahone
It was cold, windy and rainy Friday night and the Dutchtown players and coaches loved every minute of it.
After the final buzzer sounded on the Bulldogs' 17-7 win over visiting Northgate, so players danced. Even one of the coaches showed off some fancy footwork.
Despite the temperature being two degrees above freezing, Dutchtown coach Jason Galt had no complaints when his players give him the celebratory water bath just before he delivered his postgame talk.
"It is a beautiful day in Dutchtown," Galt smiled. "I told the guys all week that this is playoff weather. Anytime you get into the playoffs it is cold and wet, and that is the way it is. They had their taste of it tonight."
With the win, Dutchtown clinched it first playoff berth in school history. It left many speechless.
The Bulldogs are 9-1 and headed to the Class AAAA playoffs.
"I don't have words for this, I really don't," said senior Shaun Nichols, Jr. "We have been working since middle school for this. Dutchtown football was no-name, now all of a sudden we get to our senior year and we get to the playoffs. It is amazing. I might not get any sleep."
Said Galt: "It is hard to put into word,. We made history. It has been a long time coming. These seniors have been working hard for four years. All their hard work and dedication to this football team has paid off."
Bulldogs quarterback Wendall Long had a hand in two of the team's three scores. He had a 1-yard run with 11:55 remaining in the second quarter to tie the score at 7-7. Later in the quarter, Long connected with Jamaal Watkins for a 60-yard scoring play to give the Bulldogs the lead at 14-7 with 5:48 remaining.
Northgate jumped to a 7-0 lead in the first quarter after stopping Dutchtown at the Vikings' 48-yard line. Galt said if he had to do over, he would have kicked the ball instead of going for it on fourth-and-two early in the game.
"The team did well to cover some of my mistakes," he said.
Leading 14-7 with 5:25 remaining, Dutchtown put together one of its best drives of the game to chew up four minutes on the clock to seal the win.
Ryan Kay booted a 41-yard field goal in the wind to give the Bulldogs a 17-7 lead with 1:24 remaining in the game. On the final drive, Khalil Thurman was the workhorse with 32 yards to set up the field goal.
"We just kept plugging away, plugging away," Galt said. "Northgate did a great job of defending us tonight, but we found a way despite me and my bad calls. I knew if we could make that field goal that the game was ours. We got the best kicker, in my opinion, in the state of Georgia. We put it in his hands and he came through for us tonight."
Dutchtown's defense gave up 201 yards of offense, 154 on the ground, but kept the Vikings out of the end zone for the last three quarters.
"We have a great defense," senior defensive lineman David Daniels said. "We pride our whole team off our defense. We believe that defense wins championships. We are a running team. We are going to run it at you and pound it."