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Washington County Golden Hawks here for opening round of state

Coming into Kelly Memorial Stadium for the first time since the Class AA state championship contest of Dec. 17, 1994, the Washington County Golden Hawks will be here on Friday night for a 7:30 kickoff with the undefeated Region 4AA champion Screven County Gamecocks in the first round of the GHSA Class AA state playoffs.

Ticket prices are set at $8 by the GHSA and athletic booster passes will not be honored.

Washington County earned the fourth seed from Region 3AA in a tough three team mini-playoff Monday night at West Laurens High School. The Hawks fell to eventual third seed Southwest Macon 6-3 when the Patriots scored on the last play of the first game Monday and rallied to defeat Bleckley County 10-9 in double overtime in the second game. A three-way tie for the final two playoff spots created the mini-games.

The last time WCHS was here the stakes were very high as it was the Class AA state championship. 

SCHS was led by players like Screven County Athletic Hall of Famers Anthony Lonon, Audrell Grace, Isaac Martin, and Anthony Johnson. 

The Hawks were led by 15-year NFL linebacker Takeo Spikes, the Georgia High School football Player of the Year.

WaCo won 31-9 before the largest crowd ever in Kelly Memorial.

This time while the Hawks come in with a mere 4-6 record, their non-region schedule was brutal with losses to 9-1 AAAAA Jones County, 10-0 AAAA Burke County, and 6-4 AAAA Baldwin County to open the season. They finally picked up their first win (in overtime) over 8-2 AAAAAA Evans by a count of 49-48.  Still they finished 3-3 in 3AA with wins over third-seeded Southwest Macon 34-14, winless East Laurens 56-0, and Northeast Macon 41-9.

“They are very strong and physical on both lines of scrimmage,” said SCHS mentor Ron Duncan. “They are athletic and well coached. They are going to be a huge challenge for our program. Fans should not look at their record; they played a really tough non-region slate.”

Despite posting losing records in two of the past three seasons Washington County still represents one of the finest schools in, not only the area, but the state. Since 1992 the Golden Hawks have claimed 13 region titles (SCHS has an impressive nine over the same time frame), three state titles, three state runner-ups (including 2013 and 2014), and four more semifinals.  Head Coach Joel Ingram is in his 12th season with a record of 103-40-1.  He succeeded Rick Tomberlin who in 14 seasons was 157-31-0.  Just a year ago the team was 3AA champions.

“I think they are the most dangerous team we could be playing right now,” continued Duncan. “We know they will have a plan and it is a tough matchup for us.”

Washington County leads the series 15-6-2 but the teams have not met since the second round of the state playoffs in 1996. Between 1978 and that most recent game in 1996 the Golden Hawks have won nine of 10. The final result in 1996 was WaCo 48-12. SCHS also went 4-4 in the 1950s versus Sandersville High School.

The last time the Roosters defeated the Hawks (that one of the last 10) was Nov. 9, 1984 (there have only been three meetings since then). That score was 21-20 and secured the Red and White their first post season game since 1962. 

In that game, current Screven County Board of Education member Frank Johnson rushed 21 times for 113 yards and two scores. Current SCHS assistant coach Terry Markovcic rushed for a score and was 8-16-1 for 109 yards and current SCHS baseball and softball head coach Jim Randall Doyle was perfect on three PATs.

In the 1970s and 1980s the teams were rivals in Region 2AAA.