OCILLA -- With a win tomorrow night, the Irwin County Indians could possibly finish, at worse, in a tie for second place in Region 2-AA. However, coach Jute Wilson's Irwin football team will have to get that win against the Cook High Hornets, ranked No. 8 in this week's Associated Press Class AA poll.
Tomorrow night is Irwin's last regular season game. A victory over the Hornets would give the Indians a 5-2 mark in Region 2-AA. In that case, Cook and Brooks County, depending on the Trojans' outcome with Pierce County tomorrow night, could also each have two region losses going into their season finales on Nov. 14.
But, with all of that being said, the Indians (5-4 overall) will go into Adel tomorrow as underdogs to the Hornets, who will enter the game with a 7-1 record, 4-1 in league play.
"They have got everything going in their favor," said Wilson, who was an assistant at Cook before becoming the Irwin head coach in 2001.
"I remember looking at the young kids they had coming up when I was there and I remember all of the undefeated middle school teams they had coming up. That's their team this year. Those kids know how to win and they have a lot of talent," Wilson said.
While Irwin beat Pierce County last week 13-7, Cook defeated Brantley County 50-9. The Hornets have averaged 36.875 points per game this year. Not counting the 30 points the Hornets scored in a 14-6 win over AAAA Cairo and in a 20-16 loss to Charlton, Cook has averaged 44.2 points per contest.
The Cook defense has given an average of 7.0 points per game, with Charlton being the only team that has scored in double figures on the Hornets. Take away that 20 and the Cook defense has not allowed but 5.1 points per game.
"It is teams like Cook that they came up with the 'mercy' rule for. A running clock is the only way some of those scores have stayed respectable," said Wilson.
He added, "with their offense, they have a chance to score from anywhere on the field. Also, their defense keeps them in games and their special teams usually force turnovers that they usually score off of."
Trying to slow down the Hornets will be an Irwin defense that has improved since the start of the year. Since a 44-8 loss to Charlton County, the Indians have only allowed 23 points in their last three games.
"Our whole defense has played solid ball lately. One big key is better secondary support, because we have (senior) Devin Watson finally back there at safety. In the Pierce game, for example, they broke a couple of 8-yard runs that would have went the distance earlier this year," said Wilson.
Another player who has returned from injury, Sandy Paulk, has also helped at linebacker.
"Sandy did a good job against Pierce. (Linebacker) Jake Dukes also played well," Wilson said. "We also got good play at the ends from Brandon Dunlap and Mark Young."
Senior quarterback T.J. Bryant will lead the Irwin offense. He has rushed for 649 yards this season on 95 carries. Bryant also has completed 47-of-105 passes for 697 yards.
"(Running back) Chavarous (Carlton) also has had a good year. We have had a lot of young kids step it up for us this season," said Wilson.
A sophomore, Carlton has rushed 106 times for 759 yards. He also has scored 13 touchdowns.
Game time will be 7:30 p.m. in Adel.
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Larkey Henry Barnes, 72, of Fitzgerald passed away Saturday, November 28, 2020, in Alapaha. Among his survivors is his wife, Linda Barnes of Fitzgerald. Arrangements are incomplete and will be announced later by Bowen-Donaldson Home for Funerals.