By Richard Harris
Marion County High School totally dominated last Friday’s semi-final playoff game against Hawkinsville, winning 40-7, as a sea of red swayed in the stands and “Eagle Nation” celebrated the historic moment with cheers and chants of “We’re going to the Dome.”
The lopsided victory sends the No. 2 ranked Eagles (12-1) to their first state championship game.
Hawkinsville entered the game with high hopes, as the Red Devils handed the Eagles their only loss of the regular season (14-10) on Nov. 1. This time, however, the Eagles quickly took control of the game, jumped out to an early 26-0 lead, and were never seriously challenged.
“We took the game over and put them in a bad position,” said Head Coach Mike Swaney. “They are not a throwing team, but when we got that early lead it forced them throw the ball to try and catch up. Our defense made them one dimensional by taking away their strong running game.”
The Eagles managed to pull off the big early lead in spite of the fact that the offense had trouble moving the ball in the first quarter. It was the defense that shined, scoring two touchdowns in addition to shutting down the Red Devils. They also kept the visitors pinned down on their side of the field, giving All-American A.J. Wells an opportunity to kick two field goals.
The Eagles scored first when sophomore sensation Lorenzo Smothers intercepted a pass and weaved his way through opponents for a 45-yard touchdown. Smothers’ ability to cut through defenses in the open field would soon prove very useful again – even without him touching the ball.
After the defense forced Hawkinsville to punt, they decided to punt the ball out of bounds (to keep it away from Smothers). The ball sailed off the side of the punter’s foot at such an extreme angle that they actually lost five yards on the punt. That gave the Eagles the ball on the 15-yard line. The offense wasn’t able to punch it into the endzone, but Wells kicked a 26-yard field goal to make the score 9-0.
There were several more instances throughout the game when Hawkinsville’s fear of kicking or punting the ball to Smothers proved very advantageous for the Eagles and gave them excellent field position.
The next time Hawkinsville got the ball, Marion’s defense bent, but didn’t break. The Red Devils managed to plod ... Online subscribers click here for the rest of the story.
By Richard Harris
Marion County High School will battle Charlton County in the Class A State Championship Game this Saturday, Dec. 14 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Kickoff is scheduled for 11:30 a.m.
Tickets are $18 and are available now at MCHS. Everyone is encouraged to buy their tickets locally rather than at the Georgia Dome, because the money from tickets purchased at the event will be split between all of the teams in all of the classifications that made their respective title games. Tickets purchased at MCHS will also include an information sheet with various details about parking and gate entry at The Dome.
The Eagles (12-1) and the Indians (9-4) have only played once before. Last year the Eagles knocked them out of the playoffs in the first round in a 31-12 victory at Eagle Stadium. They are expected to put up a much tougher fight this year. They have had some impressive victories, including a 42-0 blowout over No. 1 ranked Seminole County in the quarterfinals.
“They are a much better team this year,” said Coach Mike Swaney. “Last year they had a good passing game, but they couldn’t run the ball very well. This year they are much more balanced and can run and pass well.”
Charlton is led by senior quarterback Trae Harrington, 6’1”, who has passed for 1,404 yards and 11 touchdowns this year. Last year he operated a fast paced no-huddle offense that Marion’s defense handled very well. The Eagles picked off two of his passes, returned a fumble for a touchdown, and held them on fourth down three times.
This year Charlton has added sophomore running back Andrew Lee (5’10”, 200 lbs.) to its backfield and ... Online subscribers click here for the rest of the story.