Shattered dreams, busted plays and a broken bus - those Friday night mishaps tell the sad story of the Lakeside, Evans and Augusta Christian football teams.
All three Columbia County squads were defeated last week. Evans and Augusta Christian suffered season-ending losses on the road, while Lakeside was eliminated from playoff contention after losing at Thomson.
The Lakeside High School Panthers entered the 2001 season with great expectations, and were seeking a third-straight trip to the postseason, but the senior-laden team has gone down the tubes. Its playoff hopes were officially ended with a 28-13 loss to Thomson High School at the Brickyard.
The Panthers did give the unbeaten Bulldogs a challenge. Lakeside pulled within eight points, at 21-13, with 6:31 remaining in the fourth quarter on a five-yard touchdown run by senior Brant Evans. Senior fullback Matt Nixon aided the Lakeside comeback attempt with 102 yards rushing.
Thomson was able to put the game away with a time-consuming drive, capped by a score with 43 seconds left to play.
Lakeside (3-6, 3-4 in Region 3-AAAA) now takes a three-game losing streak into the season-finale against Burke County High School this Friday at Panther Stadium. Kickoff for the Region 3-AAAA contest is at 7:30 p.m.
Augusta Christian Schools also has an unenviable streak going - the Lions lost 21-14 at First Presbyterian Day, AC's third consecutive failure in first-round action of the Georgia Independent School Association Class AAA state playoffs.
The deciding points came when FPD blocked an Augusta Christian punt in the second quarter and recovered the football in the end zone. That put AC in a 21-7 hole, and the Lions never recovered.
Augusta Christian (6-6 final record) cut the deficit to 21-14 in the third quarter when Joel Whinghter threw a six-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Bates, but the Lions did not threaten in the fourth quarter.
Whinghter led the Lions with 167 yards rushing. The senior tailback finishes his prep gridiron career as AC's all-time leader in several offensive categories.
As for Evans High School, the Knights will tell you that getting there is not half the fun - of course, the games haven't been much fun, either.
Evans traveled to play Atlanta-area Fayette County High School last Friday, and one of the team buses broke down on the way. That stranded half the players on Interstate 20; they arrived about 30 minutes before the 7:30 p.m. kickoff.
A 31-0 loss to Fayette just added insult to injury.
The Knights committed two fumbles inside Fayette County's 5 yardline. Evans finished the night with three turnovers and had punt blocked, which led to a Fayette County touchdown.
Ernest Powell did his job on defense - in his final game for Evans, the senior linebacker notched 11 unassisted tackles and three assists. Senior Fernando Mickens contributed 64 yards rushing and six receptions.
Evans finishes its season with a 1-9 record.
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