Columbia County's high school football action fell on Friday the 13th last week, and Black Friday was part curse, part blessing for the local prep squads.
In a matchup of local rivals at Blanchard Stadium, the Evans Knights gave the Lakeside Panthers a rude welcome. At Pride Valley, the Augusta Christian Lions dominated John Milledge Academy. And, in Greensboro, Ga. the Harlem Bulldogs beat Greene County, but still came home with broken hearts.
The Greenbrier Wolfpack was off last week, and will battle Lakeside this Friday in the Region 3-AAAA opener for both squads.
Lakeside at Evans
The rain stayed away from Blanchard Stadium, but Evans poured it on Lakeside, as the Knights scored on all four offensive possessions in the first half to post a 28-14 win.
It was the first meeting between the county rivals since the 1999 season, and an action-packed first half made the wait worthwhile.
Lakeside's Philip Sadler returned the opening kickoff to the Evans 12, and Phillip Choat powered in on a 1-yard run to give Lakeside a 7-0 lead.
From there, former Lakeside players Steven Rogers and Kai-Cheng Ho stole the show. The new Knights accounted for all four scores for Evans, while quarterback Travis Clark made a strong return from an ankle injury by completing eight of 10 passes in the first half, including a touchdown to Rogers.
"We can do a lot more with Travis in there," Evans coach Lee Chomskis said. "You could tell he was very rusty, but he adds a lot to the offense. He'll continue to get better once the rust gets off."
The loss left Lakeside's first-year coach Randy Hill still seeking his initial win. Hill did see encouraging signs, and says the Panthers (0-2) are primed to break through in the Region 3-AAAA opener Friday night against Greenbrier.
"I'm happy with how our guys played," Hill said. "That's a plus for us going into the region. The first two games are warmups. Right now we're right where we need to be going into the Greenbrier game. I feel confident in my boys."
Evans evened its record at 1-1 heading into the Region 7-AAAAA schedule this week. The Knights will play host to Southwest DeKalb.
"I think the win will give us a little momentum going into region," Rogers said. "We'll have more confidence for the rest of the season. We're a lot better team than people think. We've got a good group of leaders this year, and that will carry us a long way."
Next: Southwest DeKalb at Evans, 7:30 p.m. Friday; Greenbrier at Lakeside, 7:30 p.m.
John Milledge Academy at Augusta Christian
Augusta Christian's first-year coach Bruce Lane faced his alma mater last week, but after AC thumped John Milledge Academy 23-0, there was no questioning Lane's allegiance.
"I saw a few old friends, but I would have seen a few more if they had won," said Lane, who played for Milledge and later was head coach for the Trojans.
"During the game, I looked across the field and saw kids I know. That was a funny feeling, but I try to coach in black and white. It was another football game, and John Milledge was our opponent."
AC had little trouble improving its record to 3-1. In the process, the Lions notched a second consecutive shutout at Pride Valley. Cole Rabun scored twice, Adam McKinney threw a touchdown pass to Matt Lane, while David Nelson booted a field goal. On defense, AC's front line manhandled Milledge.
"It was another outstanding effort by our defense," Lane said. "John Milledge had no points and very little offense to speak of. Offensively, we had close to 400 yards. We made a couple of mistakes in the red zone, and those are things we need to work on."
Next: Augusta Christian at Brentwood School, 7:30 p.m. Friday
Harlem at Greene County
Harlem improved its record to 2-1 with a 20-12 win at Greene County, but the Bulldogs didn't celebrate after Friday night's victory.
Instead, the players huddled for a post-game prayer for Michael Hawkinberry and his family.
Hawkinberry's parents and two younger brothers were in an accident while traveling to the game. The senior quarterback left before the opening kickoff and later learned that 8-year-old Andrew Hawkineberry had died.
Harlem coach Jimmie Lewis, meanwhile, began the long night by informing the players of what had happened.
"I had to let the team know why the starting quarterback had to leave. I told them that Hawkinberry's parents had been in a real bad wreck - that was all I knew at the time," Lewis said. "No one could concentrate, we were all shook up. The score didn't matter. It was amazing the players were able to do what they did. The kids showed guts under the circumstances."
Jon Rickerson filled in at quarterback and threw touchdown passes to Kelvin Sturgis and Tae Dorsey. Rickerson also added a score on a quarterback sneak, and tossed a 2-point conversion pass to Dorsey.
"At Harlem, we struggle to win, and when we win, we like to celebrate," Lewis said. "There was no celebration at all. We just went ahead with the game, and got back to Harlem and attended to real business."
Harlem's players went to the hospital after midnight Friday, and spent the rest of the weekend consoling their distraught teammate.
Now the Dogs are preparing for this Friday night's homecoming game against Warren County, but Lewis wasn't sure if Hawkinberry will be ready to play - this week or ever.
Next: Warren County at Harlem, 7:30 p.m. Friday
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