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It can’t get much more fun than this

There are eight teams left in all of Class AA playing in four games this Friday night. 

Two of the top five teams in the final regular season rankings will be at Kelly Memorial Stadium vying to become one of just four teams playing on Dec. 1. It just can’t get more fun than 11-0, No. 3-ranked Screven County hosting 12-0, No. 5-ranked Rabun County can it?

Well it can be more exciting, but not until next week.

That is next week if the Gamecocks are still unbeaten and hosting the Callaway Cavaliers. It does not matter; it can be the Brooks County Trojans here next Friday and be more exciting. 

Obviously, the Wildcats from Rabun are saying the same thing. This is their third consecutive quarterfinal and they have lost in their previous two. They have never been to the semifinals.

It can get more exciting for them as well. The Roosters are 2-2 in quarters in their history and have been to five semifinals. They lost last year in the quarterfinals to Callaway 35-34.

Neither team on Friday can remotely be looking ahead and past the other one. There is too much at stake and both teams are just plain too good. There are outstanding offenses possessed by both teams and outstanding defenses possessed by both teams.

Locals know very little about Rabun County and their Wildcats. They are just too far away and don’t play teams we know either. 

The programs are similar in that they are criticized for their weak regions. In that they are very similar. Just as 4AA’s third and fourth seeds were (Harlem and Butler) routed in the first round, so too were 8AA’s No.3 Banks County 57-0 by 7AA No. 2 Pepperell and No. 4 Monticello 47-7 by 7AA champion Rockmart. As the No. 4 seed from 8AA, Monticello finished the season with a 2-9 record. No. 2 seed Elbert County won easily in its first round over Coosa and, just like Jefferson County against Benedictine, was routed in the second round 56-10 by Hapeville “Football” Charter.

Home to Rabun County High School is Tiger, Ga., and only one school, Banks County, in Region 8AA is less than 75 miles from it. For the other schools in the region, the trip to Tiger is a pain. For Social Circle, the trip to Tiger is almost twice as far as the next longest trip (106 to 63). For Monticello, it is 40 miles farther than their next farthest trip. For most, it is far and away their longest trip, and of late, to get routed.

Coach Lee Shaw heads the football program at Rabun County. If the last name is familiar, his son Jaybo Shaw played two years of quarterback at Georgia Tech and two years for Georgia Southern. The younger Shaw left Tech when Jeff Monken left there to become the head coach at GSU. Another son of Shaw, Connor, played quarterback at South Carolina and spent time in the NFL. Both of them played for their dad when he was still at Flowery Branch.

The eldest Shaw left Flowery Branch after going 79-41 in 10 seasons (the first 10 seasons of the school) six seasons ago to head home to Rabun County. In six seasons, he has brought four region titles to Rabun and has a record of 57-14. At the exact same time (2012), Ron Duncan came to SCHS where he has brought home four region titles and has compiled a record of 57-14.

Friday night Gamecock fans will get to see firsthand one of the most successful quarterbacks in Georgia history. 

Earlier in the season, Bailey Fisher passed the 100 (105 coming to Sylvania) mark in touchdown passes. Just five other quarterbacks in Georgia history have done that. It is a noteworthy list. Trevor Lawrence of Cartersville, who has committed to Clemson, finished last week with 161. The others are Deshaun Watson (155) of Gainesville; K’hari Lane (118) of Macon County; Jake Fromm (116) of Houston County; and Nick Marshall (103) of Wilcox. 

You have definitely heard of Watson and Fromm, but Marshall (who lost his spot on the UGA roster) led Auburn to the national title game in 2014. Lane is a freshman at the University of Arizona.

If you missed it, Jefferson County’s season came to a crashing halt last week just down the road from us. At Savannah State’s T.A. Wright Stadium, the Cadets of Benedictine put a 70 spot on the Warriors in a 70-21 victory. The Cadets will host Hapeville “Football” Charter this week in a matchup of the top two teams in the AJC’s final regular season poll.

Basketball started early for the Lady Gamecocks last weekend. It started with hope and a pair of close games, but still not a win. Friday night in Alma the Red and White opened in Bacon County’s tournament and fell to the home team 24-23. On Saturday, the ladies fell to AAA Appling County 41-37.

“It’s coming,” said Lady Gamecocks head coach Stephanie Davis. “I see a lot of good things so we have to keep working.”

Georgia Southern baseball released its 2018 recruiting class on Nov. 17. We already have written about one of them, but here is what the media guide will say, “Tyler Owens will join the Eagles in 2019 as a transfer from East Georgia College. He went 6-6 with a 3.90 ERA as a freshman in 2017 at East Georgia, throwing a no-hitter against IMG Academy on April 14. He also earned NJCAA D1 Pitcher of the Week on March 22, 2017. A product of Screven County High School, Owens was the Region 3-AA Pitcher of the Year in 2016. He graduated with honors from Screven County High School and was on the President’s List at East Georgia.”

I learned this after this column was supposed to be done -- Harold Lee Scott passed away on Sunday. There is a generation that does not know him, but he is in any conversation with the best that Screven County has produced. A football and basketball player at Sylvania High School, he also played baseball at Mercer. A basketball coach extraordinaire, Scott has almost uncountable region championships, along with state championships at Nahunta (1958) and Savannah High (1968, 1972 and 1974). He is in multiple Hall of Fames including the Screven County, Chatham County, Georgia Athletic, Cherokee County, and maybe others.