Tifton Gazette

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November 8, 2012

Playoffs potentially on line at Turner

TIFTON — The wait for the Turner County Rebels is over. After a week off, they go into battle tonight at home at 7:30 p.m. with the Clinch County Panthers in what could easily turn into an all or nothing game.

Both schools are teetering on the edge of the power rankings cliff. Eight region winners get into the state playoffs. The eight next best schools in the rankings get into the state playoffs. Clinch, ranked at 14, are currently in, while the Rebels, No. 18, need a big win to seize perhaps the final brass ring. Rebels’ head coach Erik Soliday is fully aware of the postseason implications.

“It’s a big game for us. Whoever wins is probably in, whoever loses is probably out.”

There will be one advantage for Turner. The game is being played at the friendly confines of Hobby Field, something that pleases him.

“It’s nice to be at home.”

A few weeks ago, Turner would have been an automatic. They were 5-1, 2-0 in Region 2-A, with convincing wins over Lanier County and Charlton County. Then, they were shut out by a healthy Wilcox County. Then came the upset by Telfair County and a one-point loss to Irwin County and they were suddenly saddled with a three-game losing streak.

They had a chance last week to reorganize and recollect themselves, their off week falling late in the season.

Soliday was happy that his team had an opportunity to “get refreshed a little bit,” adding “hopefully it helped.”

Clinch managed to stop their own slide last week. After three consecutive losses in region games, they were able to sneak past Lanier’s upset bid by a score of 3-0.

“Lanier played really well in that game,” said Soliday.

A win by the Rebels might let them slip in, but it also could break Clinch. Knocking the Panthers out of state would be Clinch’s first denial since 1995 when they were eliminated from the region tournament by a previous generation of Turner County Rebels. Further, with the Panthers  sitting at 4 wins and five losses, a defeat - barring making state and a run in it - would give them an overall losing record in 2012. The last time that happened was way back in 1985, before Clinch had won any of their five state football championships.

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