TIFTON — Fitzgerald’s Purple Hurricane, No. 1 team in Class AA, were to defend those laurels at home Friday night, taking on the Cook High Hornets at 7:30 p.m.
The game marks the end of Fitzgerald’s regular season. Last week, they won the Region 1-AA title with a 29-28 comeback win over Thomasville.
That was what was planned. On Wednesday morning, the schedule changed. Cook is out of commission and the game won't be played. The Georgia High School Association has removed it from the schedule.
Fortunately, other games remain on tap.
Tift County is back home against Colquitt County, Tiftarea Academy goes to Southland Academy, Irwin County plays Clinch County at Homerville and Turner County is set to host Brooks County.
All games start at 7:30 p.m.
Fitzgerald (9-0) trailed 28-21 against Thomasville in the fourth period and did not even have possession after the Bulldogs intercepted at the 1. However, the Hurricane forced a safety as Thomasville tried a run out of the end zone, then came back with another touchdown to win.
Once region rivals, Cook and Fitzgerald have not seen each other since a mini-game to qualify for state in 2013 (Fitzgerald won, 3-0).
Cook enters 5-4 and reeling after a 42-35 shootout against Early County. The Hornets led 28-14 at intermission before Early began to surge.
Tift County’s Blue Devils saw a similar surge after leading 7-0 against Camden County in Kingsland. Back-to-back scores off turnovers were the turning point.
Colquitt comes in having wrapped up the Region 1-7A title after a stunning 40-10 victory over No. 2 Lowndes last week. The Packers have been sidelined twice for quarantine reasons, but are 6-0 when on the field.
Xavier Williams ran for 108 yards and passed for 99 against Lowndes, marking the third straight week the Blue Devils will match up with a mobile quarterback.
Tiftarea had the rare unluckiness of dropping two football games last week, the last a 29-28 loss at Brookwood.
They are back on the road this time, but hopefully in friendlier territory.
Southland sports a 1-7 record in 2020, their only win against Edmund Burke Academy on Oct. 30. That’s not to say the Raiders have not been close. Five of their eight games have been decided by 10 points or less.
Tiftarea, in need of healthy bodies, saw star wide receiver Jayk Sailer injured after a scoring a touchdown.
Dylan Harbort still managed to rush for 114 for the Panthers.
At Homerville, the Irwin-Clinch game takes on a different feel than in years past.
The Panthers, always a thorn in Irwin’s side, are just 4-3 this season and a week removed from their worst loss in more than 40 years, 45-3 to Brooks county.
Irwin defeated Charlton County 58-16 last week behind three touchdowns from Gabriel Benyard and two by Donivan Thomas.
On the other side of last week’s Clinch game, red hot Brooks travels to Turner, which is coming off a bye week.
This is their first meeting since 2009 and Turner has not won in its own stadium since 1974.
Keonvay Clark and Elijah Stephens scored twice in Turner’s last outing.