Tifton Gazette

Local Sports

November 7, 2012

Canes finally get a breather

TIFTON — After ten long games, the Fitzgerald Purple Hurricanes have finally gotten a week off. But it won’t be a week where they put up their feet and totally relax.

“We have guys that do need time to limit reps” said Jason Strickland, head coach of the Canes, “but we’re going to start focusing on the next opponent.”

Their next opponent will be in the state playoffs, which start next week. By virtue of capturing one of the top two seeds in Region 1-AA, they will host this game at Jaycee Stadium.

Though Fitzgerald had clinched the No. 2 slot out of Region 1-AA against the Early County Bobcats two weeks ago, Strickland was prepared to put up a battle with the Thomasville Bulldogs, who still had an outside shot at a state tournament bid, despite a 2-6 record coming into the game.

“We went in knowing they wanted to finish out on a winning note and so did we.”

Not just Thomasville was still alive as of last Friday. While both Brooks County and Fitzgerald had clinched playoff spots, the other two were still up for grabs and each one of the other five teams in the region had a chance of earning them. “That’s the joy of this region,” he said of its competitiveness.

When the final gun sounded to end the action Friday night at three stadiums across 1-AA, the end results saw Cook and Early County claim the two spots, leaving the Bulldogs, Berrien and Pelham out in the cold.

“Folks don’t realize how competitive this region is,” Strickland said. This week’s rankings certainly indicate it. The latest Associated Press poll has three of the region’s teams in the top 10. Brooks is No. 2, Fitzgerald No. 4, and Cook checks in at seventh.

While Cook and Early both know they will continue their seasons after this week, at what seed will only be determined by the outcome of their game against each other. The winner will be third and the loser fourth. In either case, they will travel for their first round game.

Strickland said he was a bit envious of the two schools. Having a chance to play a competitive game this week with something on the line will keep both teams sharp, while he will have to fight a week of limited contact and gameplans.

The win over Thomasville improved the Canes’ season record to 8-2 and they have reached the state playoffs in 13 consecutive years.

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