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Lakeside takes top spot in end-of-season ranking of county teams

Posted: November 16, 2011 - 1:11am  |  Updated: November 16, 2011 - 2:52am

Lakeside High School gave Warner Robins all it could handle before bowing out of the state playoffs with a 42-31 loss on the road Saturday.

The Panthers were in control for most of the game and enjoyed a 31-21 lead entering the fourth quarter, but a couple of costly turnovers helped Warner Robins get the lead.

The Panthers have nothing to hang their heads about. They had a solid season and earn the top spot in my end-of-the-year county rankings.

 

1. Lakeside

Overall record: (6-5)

Record vs. county rivals: (2-0)

The Panthers played a tough schedule. Their five losses came to teams with a combined record of 50-6 this season. After a 1-4 start, the Panthers had their back against the wall, but responded with five straight wins to earn a playoff spot.

They had a stellar “no name” defense. The group did not have any big stars, but played together as a unit. On offense, the Panthers shined, running behind a terrific offensive line. The group opened holes for two of the top rushers in the county in quarterback Mark Weidenaar and running back Jonathan Long. The duo combined for more than 2,000 yards rushing on the season.

Coach Jarrett Troxler and his staff did a great job of getting his kids to buy into their plan and sticking with it, despite the tough start.

 

2. Grovetown

Overall record: (5-5)

Record vs. county rivals: (3-0)

The Warriors came storming out of the gates with a 6-1 start that included wins over Greenbrier, Evans and Harlem.

However, they struggled mightily down the stretch with lopsided losses to Richmond Academy, Thomson and Washington County.

The Richmond Academy loss was especially disappointing. They posted an unbeaten record vs. county foes, and Jamal Cummings enjoyed one of the best seasons of any running back in the Augusta area.

 

3. Greenbrier

Overall record: (5-5)

Record vs. county rivals: (1-2)

I give this Greenbrier team a lot of credit for not giving up this season. They lost a heartbreaker to Grovetown to start the year, but rallied for a nice win at Evans and ended the year with a good showing against unbeaten Statesboro and a quality 42-39 win over Wayne County to finish 5-5. They lose senior standouts Jahvon Hardrick and Thomas Brown, but gutsy quarterback Cody Turner is back next season and he showed great improvement as the season went on.

 

4. Augusta Christian

Overall record (8-4)

Record vs. county rivals: (0-0)

Some people will complain about this selection. It was tough putting a school that plays in the South Carolina Independent Schools Association ahead of a AAAA public school. There were arguments for Evans.

The Knights narrowly lost to Greenbrier in the closing seconds, beat Richmond Academy and they faced much stiffer competition. However, the Knights only other two victories came against teams with a combined 3-17 record.

The Lions had one of the area’s most productive running backs in William Banks, they had solid quarterback play from Tyler Roberson, and they have a Division 1 tight end/defensive lineman in Michael Clifton.

 

5. Evans

Overall record: (3-7)

Record vs. county rivals: (0-3)

Prior to this season Evans had gone 33-11 the past four years, with three state playoff appearances. This year, the Knights never seemed to have the type chemistry it takes to win. They showed flashes, but were not consistent enough.

Late in the season, coach Marty Jackson was starting as many as nine sophomores and they have a decent crop of eighth- and ninth-graders coming up, too. I would say 2011’s disappointment will not last long for the Knights.

 

6. Harlem

Overall Record: (0-10)

Record vs. county rivals: (0-1)

Harlem suffered through one of the toughest seasons in school history. They were extremely young and inexperienced, especially on the line. It certainly did not help when their top running back transferred after the opening game of the season. They have some decent young skill players. If the Bulldogs’ lineman can grow and work hard to get better, they should see improvement next season.

 

*Augusta Prep

Overall record: (5-3)

Record vs. county rivals: (0-0)

I considered putting Augusta Prep in the poll, but in all honesty, I just do not know enough about the league they played in to make a fair judgment. That should not take away from their terrific season. The school’s 5-3 record is solid for a brand-new program. Kevin Higgins had a tremendous year running the ball this season. I just need a little larger sample size to determine their ranking among the other county teams.

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