The Greenbrier and Lakeside high school football teams won't play in the postseason this year, but last week both the Wolfpack and the Panthers ended their seasons on high notes.
The Pack dominated Butler High School in Region 3-AAAA action Friday night at Lumpkin Road Stadium, and the 35-7 win helped Greenbrier finish the season with a 5-5 record.
Meanwhile, in a Region 3-AAAA battle Friday night at Panther Stadium, Lakeside beat playoff-bound Burke County High School 23-15 to close the 2001 campaign with a 4-6 record.
Some might say Lakeside pulled an upset, but the Panthers were a single point away from being a No. 3 seed in Region 3-AAAA. That decisive point came in a discouraging 21-20 overtime loss to Hephzibah High School on Nov. 2, a defeat that all but eliminated Lakeside from playoff contention.
Lakeside's Steven Rogers catches a long pass on the eight yard line in front of Burke County's Jamey Williford only to have the play called back on a foul. However, two plays later he repeated the performance and ran the ball into the end zone for Lakeside's second touchdown in the game.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Instead of worrying about what might have been, the Panthers came back to challenge a tough Thomson High School team the following week, then finished the year on a good note against Burke County.
Lakeside took a 14-0 lead on two touchdown passes from quarterback Klay Koester. Eric Mamo hauled in a 2-yard scoring pass in the first quarter, and Steven Rogers tacked on a 58-yard TD reception in the second.
The Lakeside defense sealed the win in the second half, as the Panthers recorded a safety and Phillip Choat notched a 20-yard interception return for a touchdown.
"They've done everything we've asked them to do. They've never given up," Lakeside coach Ed Koester said.
Greenbrier also missed the playoffs by a painfully slim margin. The Pack couldn't muster any offense in a 3-0 loss to Hephzibah on Oct. 5, and Burke County needed a late fourth-down play to slip by Greenbrier 20-15 on Oct. 12.
Those heartbreakers at the Brierpatch put the Pack in a hole, but the players regrouped and won four of the last five games, including the finale against Butler.
The Pack was paced Friday by senior Nick Wandless, who rushed for 151 yards and three touchdowns. Senior tailback Taron Butler added 137 yards on the ground, while quarterback Cam Griffin capped the contest with a 30-yard touchdown pass to Latron Luke.
"My seniors were not going to go out 4-6. They were bound and determined not to have a losing season," Greenbrier coach Mickey Derrick said.
Greenbrier loses some strong seniors, including Wandless, Luke, Chad Hester, Russell Carter, Creswell Curtis and David Weitz, but the Pack returns several defensive starters next year, and also will have Griffin and Brooks Robinson battling for the quarterback position.
"They're already talking about getting in the weight room," Derrick said. "We're getting ready for next year."
Lakeside's defense will be hurt by graduation, as the Panthers lose Brad Carson, Blaine Carter, Steven Lewis, Hunt Revell and Danny Ryan, among others. Offensive linemen Adam Frye, Ben Mullenix, Lee Reynolds and Adi Filipovic also have finished their prep careers.
On the positive side, wideout Steven Rogers - who led the area in receptions (60) and yards (889) - is just a junior, while receivers Philip Sadler and Bryan Clark are sophomores. Tight end Galen Jones is a junior.
"We have a bunch of receivers coming back. I'm looking forward to putting it all together next year," said junior Klay Koester, who led area quarterbacks with 1,274 yards passing this season.
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