Area roundup: Tiftarea, Tift back under the lights

Amarion Blanks runs during a preseason game.

TIFTON — Following a week away, high school football resumes this Friday night for Tift County and Tiftarea Academy. Tift jumps into its region schedule, while the Panthers have one final non-region game left on their slate.

It’s a mostly full week of football. Irwin County is taking a Friday breather, but the other area schools will be playing. With the exception of Tiftarea, everyone is now playing for region glory.

Tift sees Lowndes in its Region 1-7A opener at Brodie Field. Both enter with 5-2 records. Lowndes’ defense has been a bit shaky some weeks. They won a 45-38 decision over Cedar Grove (No. 1 in Class AAA) last week and have had three other games giving up at least 34 points. On the flip side, the Vikings gave up seven combined to Alcovy and Valdosta.

The Blue Devils, off to their best record since 2018, played close games six straight weeks before their bye. Their slate includes a win over Class A public No. 1 Irwin County. They also nearly knocked off Lowndes a year ago, falling 17-13 at Martin Stadium, a game they led most of the way.

Tiftarea is going to Terrell Academy this week and head coach Erik Soliday may be scouring the Chula campus for a giant. Though Terrell lost to Westfield, the Eagles got four touchdown receptions from 6-foot-5 Luke Addison, all thrown by Lawrence Carpenter. Terrell’s other score was from Sharnard Pittman.

The Panthers, 3-3 to Terrell’s 5-1, spent their last week before the break thrashing Trinity Christian. Dylan Harbort is nearing 1,000 yards in rushing and passing for Tiftarea, with 698 on the ground and 723 through the air. Mason Tyler has four touchdown receptions and 238 yards.

in Region 1-AA, heavy rain gave fans a bonus Monday game this week after Fitzgerald’s field needed to dry out to host Early County. The Purple Hurricane breezed by, 22-0.

As of Tuesday, both Fitzgerald and Early are still listed as playing Friday games. Fitzgerald is to go to Worth County while Early is slated to host Berrien.

The Sylvested-based Worth Rams will be hoping Fitzgerald is extra tired from Monday. The Rams are currently in the thick of a three-game skid after battling Tift, Cook and Thomasville in consecutive weeks. They mustered a fourth quarter touchdown last week against the Bulldogs, the only team that has truly been able to stop Worth’s offense this year.

Fitzgerald led 7-0 against Early at the half, thanks to a DeNorris Goodwin scamper. The ‘Canes, No. 2 in Class AA, enter with a 6-1 mark.

Only one team can win region games, but Berrien and Early both need it for their postseason chances. Early has not won at all in the region. Berrien is in the thick of a race with Cook and Worth for the last two playoff slots fro Region 1.

Berrien did itself a tremendous favor in upsetting Cook last week, 25-21 (their first win in Nashville since 1996). Demar Riley bounced out a fourth quarter run and rambled 46 yards for a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter. Later, they made a big defensive stand after Cook blocked a punt and intercepted the Hornets in the end zone to survive.

Cook is at home against No. 3 Thomasville this week. The Hornets may have their hands full in more ways than one.

Jamarion Walker ran for two touchdowns against Berrien, but was injured late in the second half and did not return. Cook, which had not been beaten on Berrien’s home turf in 25 years, nearly kept that streak intact after blocking a punt deep in Berrien territory in the final two minutes, but could not get any offense rolling.

Thomasville blasted Worth County last week, 42-7. The Bulldogs have only lost to Oconee County this year, a team ranked No. 2 in Class AAA.

Two weeks ago, the Turner County Titans seemed a sure choice to be staying at home at the end of the regular season. The Titans have since reinvented themselves, knocking off Charlton County and Clinch County in successive weeks.

Now 3-4, Turner has some momentum for Lanier County, a contest to be played at Alan Hobby Field. The Bulldogs are coming off rough weeks against Irwin County and Brooks County, schools who are not just a big 1-2 punch, but No. 1 and No. 2 in Class A public.

Winning isn’t a must for Turner, but highly desired by the Titans for their state tournament chances.

After Lanier, the Titans will wrap their season with games against Brooks and Irwin, both on the road.

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