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October 10, 2013

Big blue battle at Brodie

TIFTON — It has been quite a turnaround for the Tift County High Blue Devils. Even  head coach John Reid is willing to admit it.

"We're starting to take an identity," he said.

They will have an opportunity to test that newfound identity this Friday when the 5-1 Camden County Wildcats come to Brodie Field for a 7:30 p.m. There will be an extra air of excitement. This is homecoming week.

Reid searched for a word to describe his team. He finally settled on 'scrappy.'

That fits.

Against the state's No. 3 team, the Devils allowed only two touchdowns and a single field goal. The Packers were inside the red zone five times.

One of those stops was at the one when Sihiem King attempted to hurtle the line and was stripped of the ball in the fourth quarter. Zach Abbott made the recovery. He is one of the players that has recently impressed his coach. "It's a lot to ask of a freshman (10th grader)."

Another came at the 18, when King swept left and lost control of the pigskin in the third period. Jarveius Overstreet scooped it up and ran it back 82 yards for the score. That put the Blue Devils up, 14-10, a score they carried into the fourth.

King was the thorn in their side all night, even with the turnovers.

He rushed for 168 yards and caught five passes for 127, including a 90 yard score in the first minute of the game.

"He's probably a division higher than Division I," he said.

He said he believes that Colquitt is overall even better than they were last season.

The offense had its issues with the Packers. He said they have done a better job, but concedes "the best defense in the region can make you play worse."

Quarterback Ryan Wedgeworth and Ladarius Stewart each had a fumble. Stewart also scored on a 16-yard run in the first quarter. Wedgeworth's 49 led the team in rushing yards. He passed for 68 with no touchdowns, but no interceptions. He's only been picked off three times, all in the game against Thomas County Central.

Reid does not quite know how to describe Camden. Considering their recent history and deep roster, he ruled out 'scrappy.' There are several athletes who have already committed on the roster, including two for Alabama: Chris Williams and Kalvaraz Bessent.

Not that he would ever forget, but he has had another reminder recently of the Wildcats' power. Referring to UGA's J.J. Green, "that running back from Camden gained 117 yards on Tennessee." Tift has its own Division I commit, Ike Powell, who will be going to Vanderbilt as a long snapper.

He ignores one aspect of Camden, the 91-6 score they put up against Beach earlier this year.

"We'll see if our 11 can play harder than their 11."

The Wildcats have found the going a bit tougher in the region in 2013. Games against Valdosta and Coffee were decided 14-10 and 28-21, respectively.  The previous year, they went 43-6 and 39-12.

Offensive stats have held steady. Bessent, Williams and Antonio Wimbush have made up the majority of the rushing attack. Against Beach, 15 different players ran the ball. Five of the touchdowns were scored by freshmen.

After Camden, the Devils will embark on a two-week road trip. They will play Valdosta at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium, then Lowndes at Martin Stadium. Those two face-off this week in the Winnersville Classic.

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