Area roundup: Schools roll into the next round of state

Turner’s Ke’arrin Dawsey tries to keep his balance while stretching for yards.

TIFTON — Ask any Georgia high school football coach and he will tell you that he will trade a Thanksgiving break for practicing. If a team is having to moderate its turkey and pie, that means it is deep into the state playoffs.

Several area teams are in that position. Tiftarea Academy is in the GISA semifinals while GHSA schools Turner County, Irwin County and Fitzgerald have made it to the elite eight in their brackets.

Region 2-A is looking especially good this fall. No. 1 Irwin County pounded Lincoln County last week, 51-27. Turner County throttled Bowdon, 40-13 and Brooks County demolished Washington-Wilkes, 61-28. Brooks’ 61 points was only its third highest figure of the season.

Fitzgerald, a Region 1-AA team, came back to defeat Fannin County, 28-14 to reach this position in the brackets.

The wins set up Fitzgerald (10-2) to travel to Putnam County (12-0), Turner (6-6) to visit Metter (12-0) and Irwin (10-2) to host Macon County (11-0).

Irwin was down early against Lincoln’s Red Devils, but stormed back with a vengeance. Demarkas Lundy ran for multiple touchdowns Bryce Clements had multiple scoring receptions courtesy of Cody Soliday. Soliday also ran for a touchdown. The Indians, two-time defeating Class A champions, have now won eight straight games.

Unblemished Macon County knows something about tough opponents, though. Irwin will be the sixth ranked team the Bulldogs have seen this year. They have not been bothered by this and currently have been defeating teams by an average score of 40-10.

Landon Austin, normally not a high-percentage passer, hit 5 of 6 against Emanuel County Institute in the second round, one a touchdown pass to Shelquavious Byce. Austin ran for 107 yards and three touchdowns. Marlon Mitchell is the team’s leading rusher for the season.

The winner will take on either Manchester or Wilcox County in the semifinals.

Turner had a dramatic game against Dublin in the first round. That was not the case up at Bowdon. The Titans were rarely in trouble and kept constant pressure on Bowdon’s quarterback. They even had an interception, which happened when a ball bounced off a Red Devil receiver lying on the ground.

This is the matchup the Titans want in the quarterfinals. Metter is undefeated in 2021, but they were also undefeated in 2020 when Turner nearly knocked the Tigers out of the playoffs in the first round, losing by a mere point.

Metter defeated Schley County in the second round, 33-6, behind speedster running back Danny Cheley. Cheley had three scores of more than 50 yards each. Highlights on MaxPreps also saw a dominant game from defender C.J. Donaldson.

Brooks County or Warren County awaits the winner.

In AA, Fitzgerald trailed early, but were too strong and too much for the Blue Ridge crew to comeback.

Christian Solomon returned a blocked field goal 78 yards for a touchdown. He later added a 18-yard scoring catch to make it 14-14 at intermission. DeNorris Goodwin and Drew Moore had the other Purple Hurricane touchdowns.

Putnam, home of the War Eagles, outlasted Lovett last week, 28-24. Gerald Kilgore had the biggest impact for Putnam with a 105 rushing yards and a score and touchdown passes to Jalen Kilgore and D.J. Bland. This is the deepest the War Eagles have been in the playoffs since 1996.

The victor’s semifinals opponent will be either Northeast (Macon) or Swainsboro.

Other area games of note see Lowndes host Collins Hill in 7A, Lee County host Buford in 6A, Bainbridge take on North Oconee at home and Dougherty go to Carver of Columbus in 4A. In 3A, Cedar Grove goes to Crisp County and Appling County visits Thomson. Thomasville forces Rabun County into a 650-mile round trip in AA. In Class A public, Manchester goes to Wilcox County and Brooks goes to Warrenton to face the uniquely-nicknamed Screaming Devils of Warren County.

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