The Augusta Christian Schools football team notched an impressive victory last week at Pride Valley, while the Greenbrier and Harlem high squads came up short in Friday night football action.
The Lions weren't the only winners, though, as the Wolfpack and Bulldogs showed their mettle against tough non-region opponents.
The Evans and Lakeside football teams did not play, as each squad had an open week to prepare for their battle at Blanchard Stadium on Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Elbert County at Harlem
After his team had dropped its home opener 27-20 to Elbert County, Harlem coach Jimmie Lewis revealed a secret - the game wasn't supposed to be that close.
The Bulldogs also lost at Elbert County the past two seasons, and although the third time wasn't the charm, the Dogs gave the Blue Devils all they could handle Friday in Harlem.
"Each year, you've got to figure out whether you've really got it or not, and tonight showed me we've got a football team that can compete," Lewis said. "It was a great effort. Elbert County pretty much knows we're just as good as they are."
Harlem struck for a 7-0 first-quarter lead. Quarterback Michael Hawkinberry sprinted out on the option, found a seam and took off for a 65-yard touchdown.
Elbert County played keep away most of the night, using its rushing attack to hold the ball for over 30 minutes of the 48-minute contest.
Conversely, Harlem totaled only 15 plays on its three scoring drives. Hawkinberry burned a blitz by lofting a 34-yard touchdown pass to Kelvin Sturgis to forge a 14-14 tie at the half, and Sturgis added a 60-yard scoring run in the fourth quarter.
The Blue Devils clinched the win on an interception with under a minute remaining.
"Our defense gave it our all. We fought for the hard yardage, but they made some key plays on third down," Harlem linebacker Larry Crawford said. "They must be well-coached, but we're well-coached too. We'll come back ready to play against Greene County."
Next: Harlem (1-1) at Greene County, 7:30 p.m. Friday
Stratford Academy at Augusta Christian
The balance of power might be shifting in the Georgia Independent Schools Association.
One week after losing in Macon on a last-second field goal to defending GISA state champion Tattnall Square Academy, Augusta Christian flexed its muscle in an 8-0 shutout of Stratford Academy.
By blanking the perennial state-title contender Friday at Pride Valley, the Lions put the tough loss behind them, and also proved there may be bigger things ahead this season.
"Our guys realize a loss in the last week of August doesn't factor in our getting better each week," AC coach Bruce Lane said. "If we can keep doing that, and stay focused, we'll still be playing in the last week of November."
During the win over Stratford, Trey Pitts provided the first big play for the AC defense. The senior lineman brought down Stratford's tailback to record a first-quarter safety and give the Lions a 2-0 lead.
Later in the first half, Andrew Fisher picked off a pass near the Augusta Christian goal line to thwart a potential go-ahead touchdown by the Cavaliers. Cole Rabun followed with a 69-yard touchdown run to put the Lions ahead 8-0. Rabun finished with 126 yards rushing.
Next: John Milledge Academy at Augusta Christian (3-1), 7:30 p.m. Friday
Greenbrier at Westside
In a well-played game Friday at ARC Stadium, Westside's Aundra Ellison was the difference. The senior tailback rushed for three touchdowns to pace the Patriots to a 31-17 win over Greenbrier.
"The final score is not indicative to how close the ball game was," Pack coach Mickey Derrick said. "We played hard, but we have to work on techniques and certain assignments. The biggest thing that hurt us was special teams."
Westside had a long return on a kickoff in the third quarter to seize momentum.
The Pack cut the deficit to 24-17 on a pass from Brooks Robinson to Eugene Rogers with just over two minutes to play, but the ensuing onside kick attempt failed, and Ellison tacked on a 51-yard scoring run to set the final margin."
"We did fairly well on offense, but there's a lot of room for improvement," Derrick said. "Our open week couldn't have come at a better time, because now we have two weeks to get ready for Lakeside."
Next: Greenbrier (1-1) at Lakeside, Sept. 13
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