Columbia County's high school football teams all made moves last week, but not all the squads took a step in the right direction.
Greenbrier, Harlem and Augusta Christian are on the rise after Friday night victories, while Evans and Lakeside were defeated and now face uphill battles.
Greenbrier at Lakeside
In a Region 3-AAAA opener at Panther Stadium, Greenbrier used a strong ground game to knock off Lakeside 36-24.
Sophomore running backs Orlando Pollard, Tyler Dent and Justin Jennings led the Pack to 214 yards rushing, while the Greenbrier defense limited Lakeside to 12 yards on the ground.
With the win, Greenbrier improved its record to 2-1, and earned county bragging rights; the Pack also whipped Evans earlier this season.
"We're happy with the two wins, but neither one was very pretty," Greenbrier coach Mickey Derrick said. "The kids are excited, but they realize everything from here on out is for real."
Derrick was referring to the Region 3-AAAA schedule. The Pack has finished fifth in the region the past two seasons, and only the top four squads advance to the state playoffs.
"Every team's goal is to make it to the playoffs. That's our goal, too," Derrick said.
For Lakeside, the playoff push might be put on hold for at least another week. The Panthers (0-3) go to the Brickyard on Friday night, and picking up a region win over No. 1-ranked Thomson might be Mission Impossible.
Lakeside's not out of the playoff picture, though, thanks to a quirk in Region 3-AAAA scheduling this season. With 11 teams in the region, coaches drew names out of a hat to determine opponents. As luck would have it, Lakeside does not have to play tough teams from Jones County and Statesboro, while the Pack won't play Baldwin or Glenn Hills, traditionally weak region foes.
For that reason, a strong start is essential to Greenbrier's playoff chances. "The Lakeside game was a must-win for us, just like this week against Butler," Derrick said.
Next: Lakeside at Thomson, 7:30 p.m. Friday; Butler at Greenbrier, 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Warren County at Harlem
Harlem held its homecoming game, but someone forgot to tell Warren County to cooperate.
The Screaming Devils gave the Bulldogs fits in the first half, but Harlem finally got things together and knocked off the Class A opponent 22-0.
"The first half we were trying some different things, and it took a little bit of time to realize they didn't have anybody on the (fullback) dive," Harlem coach Jimmie Lewis said. "We changed our blocking in the second half, and didn't do anything but dive, dive, dive ... and they never stopped it."
Harlem managed a 7-0 lead in the second quarter on a 24-yard touchdown pass from Michael Hawkinberry to Tae Dorsey. In the third quarter, fullback Larry Crawford took over, sparking a touchdown drive with 47 yards on five carries.
Donny Demore broke loose on a cross-trap to give Harlem a 20-0 lead, and the Dogs added a safety to set the final margin.
With the win, Harlem improved to 3-1. The Dogs have an open week before opening the Region 3-AAA slate next week at Washington County.
"It's a big one down at WACO. We'll be working hard for two weeks to get ready for it," Lewis said. "I honestly think we can beat them, if we go down there with the right mindset and not get intimidated."
Next: Harlem at Washington County, Oct. 4.
Augusta Christian at Brentwood
After posting back-to-back shutouts, the Augusta Christian defense finally allowed a score.
And when Brentwood found the end zone during third-quarter action in Sandersville, the Lions didn't have time to pout, because the Eagles had sliced a 14-0 deficit in half.
"At that point, we were more concerned with the overall outcome of the game," AC coach Bruce Lane said.
The Lions quickly regrouped, forced a Brentwood fumble and eventually earned a 17-7 victory.
"We showed a lot of character by taking the ball back, then driving down and kicking a field goal with less than four minutes to go," Lane said. "It was a good game. The kids played really well."
AC tailback Cole Rabun rushed for 174 yards, and quarterback Adam McKinney threw for 100 yards while completing 6 of 8 pass attempts. McKinney's main target was Ryan Bates, who had four receptions for 59 yards.
Augusta Christian (4-1) will now travel to Macon for a match with First Presbyterian Day, the runners-up in the Georgia Independent Schools Association last season.
"They'll definitely give our defense a really big challenge," Lane said. "They like to throw the ball and show a lot of formations. We've got to get ready for that."
AC has some extra incentive - FPD knocked the Lions out of the GISA state playoffs last season.
Next: Augusta Christian at First Presbyterian Day, 8 p.m. Friday.
Southwest DeKalb at Evans
Evans embarked on its first foray into Region 7-AAAAA last week, and for three quarters at Blanchard Stadium, the Knights were positioned to beat Southwest DeKalb.
But the Knights failed to finish off two touchdown opportunities, and that led to a 28-6 loss. Evans twice moved to the Panthers' 1 yard line, but had to settle for field goals by Brad Sickles and B.J. Ralph.
The game was closer than the final score indicated. Southwest DeKalb clung to a 14-6 lead before capitalizing on a few Evans miscues to tack on 14 points in the fourth quarter.
Evans will try to improve its 1-2 record this week at Tri-Cities.
Next: Evans at Tri-Cities, 7:30 p.m. Friday.
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