TIFTON — The Turner County Rebels will take one of their longest road trips of the season tonight and looking to make a little history doing so.
Turner County, which plays at Taylor County at 7:30 p.m., is angling for a 3-0 start, something the team has not done in four years. The field is an unfamiliar one for most Turner Countians. Not only is it head coach Nick Hayes’ first trip to Butler, it’s Turner’s first since 1981. The series, although brief, has been a good one for the Rebels. They are 5-0 and won last year’s battle by a 30-0 score.
The Rebels pushed their record to 2-0 last week, defeating Cook by a 21-7 margin. It was their first win over the Hornets in school history. Granted, the schools only met for the first time last year. Head coach Nick Hayes considered the victory to be a feather in his cap.
When he took over the position, he said he looked at the upcoming schedule. “That was one of the games that stuck out to me,” said Hayes. They are struggling this year with an 0-2 record, but Cook has been a perennial powerhouse in South Georgia.
True to form, they kept Turner at bay to start the game.
“It was a close ballgame at halftime,” said Hayes. Each side had seven points, but that changed in the third quarter. The Rebels scored one touchdown there, then added an insurance score in the fourth.
Hayes said it took some time for his team to find its footing. Karmello Lawson was instrumental in that, as was Keonvay Clark. Clark made an acrobatic sideline catch, keeping a foot inbounds for a big gain and pushing the momentum even further in their favor. Lawson and Clark connected for one touchdown and Lawson ran for another. Demarcus Barnes’ rushed for Turner’s other score.
Taylor County, like Turner, made the state playoffs a year ago. Both teams fell in the first round, Turner to Miller and Taylor to Charlton.
The Vikings have played only one regular season game. That was two weeks ago when they were beaten by Manchester, 44-20. Standing out to Hayes from film were quarterback Jabin Ford and running back Martavioun Little. Both juniors, they nonetheless bring much experience to the roster.
Ford threw for 112 yards against Manchester and ran for a touchdown. He was the team’s starter last season as well, with MaxPreps-credited stats showing 863 passing yards and 465 rushing. The latter number was second on the squad, with the 397 rush yards of Little third for the Vikings. Little’s eight touchdowns on the ground was tied for team lead.
They might make a tough matchup for Turner, which, so far, is ahead of their defensive pace of a year ago. Turner held Cook and Worth County to fewer points than in 2018. They shut down Cook, forcing a handful of turnovers along the way.
Taylor County marks the end of Turner’s non-region schedule. The Rebels are scheduled to take a break next week, then head into Region 2-AA with a game at Telfair County. Telfair hosts Bleckley County tonight before traveling to Bacon County.