Tift on rebound at Camden

Azaria Smith throws on the run to Michael Taylor.

TIFTON — Tift County almost knocked off No. 1 last Friday. Tonight, they’ll go out to Camden County not only looking to pick up their first Region 1-7A win of the year, but also to potentially get back into the race. Tift still has a shot at the region title if Colquitt County can knock off Lowndes.

“We had the opportunity,” said head coach Ashley Anders of his squad’s 17-13 loss. “We let that one slip away from us. I feel like we should have won the game.”

Lowndes only took the lead with 5:37 to go in the game on a Jacurri Brown run.

Tift went up 13-0 in the second quarter, but couldn’t hold on as Brown took over.

“I was proud of our kids,” he said. “They played hard.”

The Blue Devils had stellar defensive play as usual, something helped by offensive coordinator Chris Wade’s plan to keep the ball out of the Vikings’ hands.

“We did a good job with field position, especially the first half,” said Anders. “We shortened the game.” He took note of the drive the opened the third quarter, which saw Tift hang on to the football for 8:30, more than half of the period.

Brown was the only Lowndes player to have much in the way of offense. Of course, said Anders, he could get positive yardage in the NFL. Anders said Brown is the most talented player he’s seen “in a long, long time” on offense in high school football.

To regain their momentum, Tift will have to defeat a Camden County squad that’s run hot and cold.

The Wildcats won four straight from Sept. 11-Oct. 2, but have fallen in their last three. None have been closer than 24 points, that being last week’s 34-13 loss to Colquitt.

Colquitt scored the first 24 points of the game before Joshua Brown hit Deonte’ Cole with a 58-yard pass late in the third quarter.

The game was Colquitt’s first in three weeks because of the team’s second quarantine during the 2020 season. Camden was without leading receiver Shawn Hardy, but did see the return of running back Jamie Felix. Felix was held to 41 yards on 14 carries. Anders said he had been battling injuries. He doesn’t know if Felix is 100%.

Three quarterbacks played against the Packers. “One’s a drop-back guy,” said Anders, “there’s one that’s a scrambler.” Brown has been the most active of the set, throwing for nearly 1,000 yards.

His main concern is with Camden’s size.

“Golly, they’re big.”

Micah Morris is the giant of the bunch at 6-foot 6 and 330 pounds. The University of Georgia has already claimed him for next year’s roster and he also had offers from Alabama and Clemson, among many others.

Morris plays both sides of the ball. He has been credited with 16 tackles, five for losses, two hurries and one sack.

The Lowndes game saw the further development of Tift’s young offense.

C.J. Henley caught a career high four passes for 49 yards. Michael Taylor caught his varsity pass for nine yards. A second catch, which saw him tightrope the sideline, was wiped out on a penalty. Tyler Parker did not score, but added 27 yards on catches. All three are sophomores.

Azaria Smith, a junior, has thrown for four touchdowns and 453 yards. He missed the first two games of the year.

Chrishon Stephens, a rare senior in this mix, has 275 rushing yards and four touchdowns, but close behind is Zach Carter at 214 and three, respectively. Sophomore Javon King returned from injury to score his first touchdown of the new and provide a nice change of pace when Lowndes bottled up Stephens.

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