The Harlem High School football team finally came home last week.
Prior to the Friday contest with the Musketeers, the Bulldogs had not played a home game since beating Aquinas on Sept. 7.
Harlem's Tae Dorsey finds running room around ARC's Jozell Lovett late in the second quarter.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
''Six weeks since we've played at home - six weeks," Harlem coach Jimmie Lewis said after his Dogs had dispatched ARC 24-7.
So much transpired in those six weeks. The turmoil spawned on Sept. 11 has cast a dark shadow on the world scene, but in the smaller sphere of high school football, Harlem is basking in the spotlight.
When the Bulldogs qualified for the Class AAA state playoffs last year, Harlem threw a parade. Success on the gridiron was something new.
Now, in 2002, Harlem has won four straight games and is tied for first in the Region 3-AAA standings at 3-0.
The Dogs always have had a rabid fan following, even in the lean years, like 1997, when the team went 0-10.
But when Harlem came home Friday, the fans were frenzied for good reason: their Dogs finally have a bite.
''There's some real football fever in Harlem and Grovetown, and I'll tell you why - they expect us to win every Friday night. It used to be, you played a good game, you didn't win, but don't worry about it," Lewis said. ''Now they're starting to expect us to win and that's good. That's what I want 'em to do. I expect my players to win every Friday night and I expect to win myself."
Harlem's rise can be attributed to the unexpected; specifically, the deceptive triple-option offense directed by dynamic Domonique Brown.
Brown was almost too efficient during second-quarter action against Richmond Academy. The senior quarterback apparently tucked the football in to fullback Larry Crawford, so the Musketeers converged on Crawford and the refs whistled the play dead.
Meanwhile, Brown was looping around right end with the pigskin, which he quickly pitched to Tim Camp, who had clear sailing down the sideline.
Camp heard the whistle and screeched to a halt as the red-faced referees explained that the play had been ended prematurely.
''On the triple-option you don't blow the whistle until you see the football. We've got a potential touchdown, and that hurt us at the time," Lewis said. ''Then again, everybody made mistakes tonight. Richmond Academy made theirs, I made mine, so I ain't pointing a finger at no referees. They're human. Things like that happen."
Make no mistake: something very significant could happen this Friday night.
If the Bulldogs can win at home against Jefferson County, and, if Washington County beats Westside in Sandersville, Harlem would be atop the Region 3-AAA standings.
What a difference six weeks make.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.