The Greenbrier Middle School football team remained unbeaten this season after posting a 32-0 win over Evans Middle School on Tuesday at the Brierpatch.
Wolfpack tailback Shad Harris rushed for 122 yards, three touchdowns and four two-point conversions; Andrew Gaskins added another score. Pack middle linebacker Erik Smith dominated on defense and Brad Meister intercepted two passes.
Greenbrier piled up 232 rushing yards behind the blocking of offensive tackles Mark Boiter and Phillip Hill.
''It was nice to see it all come together,'' Pack coach Jody Hilley said. ''We made some mistakes in the first half, then put the offense and defense together in the second half and put the game out of reach.''
Although the Pack improved to 3-0 at the season's midpoint, Hilley said he realizes his team must finish strong to claim a spot in the Columbia County middle school football championship game Oct. 23.
''It's still too early to say who's going to finish with the best records,'' he said. ''Anything can happen between now and the to-be-announced game.''
In fact, with how the race is shaping up among the county's five middle school teams, the two top squads might not meet in the campaign-capping mythical title match.
Harlem Middle School won an away game Tuesday at Columbia Middle, where the Bulldogs beat the Raiders 12-6. Domonic Johnson and Sean Ledoux scored touchdowns for the Dogs, and Tyler Croutharmel notched an interception at his safety position.
Meanwhile, at Panther Stadium, Lakeside Middle edged Riverside Middle 12-6. Lakeside running backs Baron Josey and Shawn Maw spearheaded the offensive attack, and on defense, Baron sealed the win by returning a fumble for a touchdown. Chris Drayton scored a touchdown and later added an interception on defense. Travis Azar also recorded an interception for the Panthers.
Those victories left both Harlem and Lakeside with 2-1 records. Evans stands at 1-2, while Columbia and Riverside each have 0-2-1 marks.
It appears that Greenbrier, Harlem and Lakeside have the inside track for the best records heading into Game Six, which is the to-be-announced game Oct. 23, when squads are matched according to records during the first five weeks of action.
The ideal scenario would pit the two teams with the best records in a game for Columbia County bragging rights, and that's how the cards have fallen over the past few seasons - but here's the rub: the middle school football schedule is set up so that all five county teams will have three home games, and this year on the TBA date, Columbia, Riverside and Evans are slated to be at home.
Unless the Raiders, Eagles and Knights can rally during the next two weeks - which isn't out of the question, considering the county's middle school teams are all competitive - the top teams will be on different fields Oct. 23.
''You would hope that the teams with the two best records would play, but as it stands right now, as far as current records go, they would not play,'' Hilley said.
Hilley noted the importance for home games, saying, ''Middle schools don't make a lot of money off the gates, but 80 percent of the athletic bills are covered by football gate receipts. It's hard not to guarantee the gate in those to-be-announced games.''
But Harlem Middle School coach Benjie Moore said he believes the top two teams should face off in the finale, even if it means juggling the Oct. 23 schedule.
''If I have any input, the two best teams would play, even if you have to split the gate receipts,'' Moore said.
This Tuesday's middle school football schedule features Lakeside at Harlem, Columbia at Greenbrier and Riverside at Evans. Starting time for all the games is 5 p.m.
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