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Finally, a meaningful game on the schedule

The early games are what they are. 

We easily won the two football games against the two schools from the Low Country across the Savannah River. Then Statesboro wouldn’t play. Finally, 4AA play opened on Sept. 15 and the end result has been 99-0 in those two games.

Now comes along a game with some buildup. Friday night Kelly Memorial Stadium will showcase a pair of teams 2-0 in region play. One team is going to go to 3-0. Three region wins made the playoffs last season. Someone can really make a statement.

Harlem has been here before; trying to make a statement that is. They have never been third ranked. They have neither been ranked nor have they beaten a ranked opponent. But, just two years ago the Bulldogs were coming off a huge 34-27 upset win over Swainsboro in the region opener. They had never defeated the Tigers. In Harlem, it was SCHS 41-0. In Ron Duncan’s second season, the 4-0 Bulldogs hosted 2-2 SCHS in the region opener for both teams. It was SCHS 35-13.

Both teams come in with impressive numbers on paper. Both teams have had offenses that have been tremendous. The Gamecocks also boast a tremendous defense. Harlem has the No. 5 scoring offense in the state in AA. SCHS has the No. 2 defense in points allowed in the state in AA. Only one of those can be true. Count on the Dirty Bird defense to get far and away the best of Harlem.

A lot of folks have said a lot about all of the penalties in the Laney game last week. There were penalties for sure, but there could have been maybe as many flags thrown on the crew. They were terrible. We punted on fifth down. They mismarked the point of a tackle by five yards. They mismarked the point of a penalty by 10 yards. They said for a “horse collar” tackle to be called, the runner had to be thrown down. He was yet there was no call. The list goes on. They were terrible.

In beating Lakeside-Evans earlier in the season, Jefferson County was flagged 27 times for 263 yards. Friday night we had 18-150 and did not get flagged in the second half. OK it does happen. This is not to make excuses for the Roosters at all, but there was some really bad officiating.

No surprises for me in 4AA last week. There was SCHS over Laney 49-0; Jeffco over Westside 62-6; Harlem over Butler 49-14; and Glenn Hills over Josey 6-0. From those, I think Harlem truly established itself as the leading contender for third in the final standings and the only team to possibly challenge SCHS and Jeffco.

No doubt that the marquee matchup this week is right here in Kelly Memorial Stadium. Whatever the past history is (over the past five seasons SCHS is 5-0 by an average score of 45-12) the Bulldogs come in at 4-1 and 2-0. To set up the title matchup with Jeffco on Nov. 3, this game has to be won. 

After the SCHS-HHS contest comes the Westside (0-5, 0-2) v. Laney (0-5, 0-2). It is hard to believe what this one looks like on paper. Jefferson County is at Glenn Hills. Oh boy. Finally Butler is at Josey. I say Laney on the strength of their QB. Maybe Jeffco can win in their game (rolling of eyes implied)? Finally, Josey at White Road Stadium -- is that a safe pick?

Softball got started with the region playoffs on Wednesday. As you read this you should know whether or not we took care of business and swept Jefferson County. I feel very sure that Harlem swept Westside. This time next week the region championship may well be decided if we swept Harlem or were swept by Harlem. Or there could be an “if” game happening as you read the paper.

Six softball seniors will be preparing for possibly their last home softball games when Oct. 11 rolls around.