Three Columbia County high school football teams will finish their seasons this week, while a fourth squad will have its fate determined Friday night at The Brickyard.
Evans, Lakeside and Harlem don't have a shot at advancing to the state playoffs, and will try to cap the 2003 campaign on a positive note.
Greenbrier, meanwhile, lost its final regular season game last week at Statesboro, but the Wolfpack will qualify for the postseason if Thomson wins at home against Baldwin this Friday.
Pack your bags
Greenbrier was no match for Statesboro, as the Blue Devils pounded the Pack for a 48-18 win in Region 3-AAAA action last Friday.
"We stayed with them in the first half, and in the second half the only way I can explain it is they kicked our backsides," Pack coach Mickey Derrick said.
The Pack ended the regular season with a 7-3 record, and their 5-3 mark in region play could be good enough to secure a No. 4 seed in Region 3-AAAA. If Baldwin loses at Thomson this week, the Braves would also have three region losses, but Greenbrier would beat Baldwin in the region's tiebreaker.
Thomson enters the game with an eight-game win streak, and if the Dogs extend that to nine, Greenbrier would travel to play Shaw in a first-round Class AAAA state playoff game Nov. 21 in Columbus.
"We're excited about the opportunity we might have, and we all feel like it's going to happen," Derrick said. "The coaching staff will go to see Shaw play Spencer on Thursday, and we'll come back and watch Thomson and Baldwin play Friday night to see if we have the privilege of going to the playoffs. That's what the kids are planning on."
Evans needed to win at Redan last week to keep its playoff hopes alive, but despite a valiant effort against a strong Region 7-AAAAA squad, the Knights lost 34-27.
"It was down to the wire. We just ran out of time," Evans coach Marty Jackson said. "That was probably one of the best games we've played this year. We played with a lot of heart."
Cheng Ho led Evans with 153 rushing yards, and quarterback Brad Freeman threw for 158. Receivers Allen Ligon, Ricky Crawford and Ryan Crislip also had strong performances.
Evans (3-6, 3-4 in Region 7-AAAAA) closes the 2003 season against Douglass this Friday at Blanchard Stadium.
"Douglass is a good football team, but we have an opportunity to pull off the upset," Jackson said.
The 7:30 p.m. region game is senior night at Evans, and Jackson wants to see his seniors finish what they started.
"We have no chance for the playoffs, but we have a chance to go .500 in the region," Jackson said. "To go 4-4 in the region would be a pretty good deal, and we can do it."
Harlem's losing streak stretched to five with a 31-13 loss to Westside last week. The Bulldogs (2-7, 0-4 in Region 3-AAA) rolled to impressive offensive numbers, including 185 yards rushing by Tim Camp, but couldn't cash in during the region game at ARC Stadium.
"We had a shot to win, but in the first half we had problems," Harlem coach Jimmie Lewis said. "We got the ball inside their 10-yard line twice and couldn't score."
The Dogs close out 2003 at home Friday against Laney. The Wildcats need a win to secure the No. 2 seed in Region 3-AAA.
"We have to keep possession of the football and score," Lewis said. "If we don't score we'll be up the creek, because Laney has blinding speed. They'll be hard to bottle up."
That analysis doesn't bode well for Harlem, which hasn't been able to run with the big dogs all year.
"It's been disappointing, but at the beginning of the season I didn't realize we were that slow," Lewis said. "Speed is the name of the game, and we don't have overall team speed."
Lakeside had to sweat out a win Friday at Cross Creek, but the key word is "win."
The Panthers knocked off the Razorbacks 28-27 to earn their first victory since September.
"We played pretty well on offense, but we just couldn't pull away from them," Lakeside coach Randy Hill said. "We didn't want to let that one slip away. Getting our fourth win was nice."
The Panthers were paced by the running of senior Philip Sadler, and the difference in the Region 3-AAAA battle was the kicking of Josh Ramp, who made all four of his extra points to provide the one-point margin.
Lakeside (4-5, 2-5 in Region 3-AAAA) finishes with a region game Friday at Burke County. The Panthers can post a .500 record with a win, which would be a significant turnaround from an 0-10 season in 2002.
"I think we'll finish strong," Hill said. "Burke County has some hard-nosed kids, but they're young. We've just got to capitalize on their mistakes."
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