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Inspired Spartans ready to host undefeated Gamecocks

With a roster that boasts more seniors than does the one of the SCHS Gamecocks (7-0, 5-0), the veteran Glenn Hills Spartans (5-3, 3-2) will host the red-hot Roosters Friday night at The Pit in Augusta. 

Needing one more win to guarantee their second consecutive playoff season for the first time since a five-year stretch between 1982-1986, the Spartans present one last hurdle for Ron Duncan’s Gamecocks before next week’s Jefferson County matchup of two top 10-ranked teams.

Duncan, whose Gamecocks now own a 16-game regular season winning streak, quickly said, “I hope we are focused on this week. They are good enough to beat us if we don't play well.”

With the inside track on the fourth seed from Region 4AA for two years running, the Spartans of Coach Nick Collins are just two seasons removed from an 0-10 record in 2015 that followed a 1-9 in 2014.

After going from winless to a first round trip to eventual state champion Benedictine in the state playoffs, GHHS also is looking for their first winning season since 2008.

“They look a lot better,” Duncan said of the Spartans as a team. “They are the best team we have faced this year by far. We will need to play our best. They are sound in their return game … very multiple on offense and large and aggressive on defense.”

A recent feature in the Augusta Chronicle explored the growth of the evolving team unity and improvement over the 2014 and 2015 disasters. 

Now only Butler next week stands between a clean slate against other Richmond County schools on their schedule.

Wins over 3AAAA Hephzibah and Cross Creek opened the season with wins over region foes Josey, Westside and Laney since, the Spartans face all of the Augusta area public schools except ARC. 

Their losses have come to 6-2 3AAAAAA Evans and region foes Jefferson County and Harlem.

It is the 37-16 Sept. 15 loss to Harlem that will most likely keep the Spartans from at least a third-place finish.

In that contest, GHHS led at 8-7 after one period and 16-14 late in the first half. They trailed 17-16 at the half and did not score again.

On Oct. 20 in their 42-20 win over home-standing Westside, the Spartans trailed early, but came back to dominate the final three quarters.

Gamecock fans who make the trip to Augusta will see a plethora of formations including an “I,” a wishbone, shotgun with receivers all over the field, etc.  All of which seem the norm for the Richmond County schools. 

Glenn Hills is effective from the I with a big fullback to hand off to. Defensively, the Spartans frequently feature five across the defensive front though that will be hard against many Gamecock formations.

As Gamecocks fans noted a year ago, the Gamecock-Spartan series, which is now in its 12th game since 1970, has been decidedly one-sided in its history. For many, the surprise is that it is very much tilted in favor of the Richmond County school.

Last season SCHS ended an eight-game losing streak against GHHS with a 35-9 victory at Kelly Memorial Stadium. It is true that the streak of Spartan wins came between 1978 and 1985. 

Over that span, the Roosters won 27 total games, an average of less than four wins per season.

Still the Red and White trail 9-2 in the victory column.