Inspect these numbers, and let them sink in - 461-28.
That's the scoring differential the Shaw High School football team posted en route to a 10-0 regular season record. That included a 74-0 win over region rival Kendrick and a 63-0 trouncing of Spencer High School, one of the Raiders' cross-town foes in Columbus.
Shaw, the No. 2 ranked team in Class AAAA, has not yielded more than seven points in any game this year.
Traveling to Columbus to face this prep power is Greenbrier's reward to making the Class AAAA state playoffs. The Wolfpack squares off with the Raiders this Friday in first-round action.
Shaw captured the state title in 2000, which means in successive games Greenbrier will have met the past three Georgia High School Association Class AAAA champions (the Pack played 2002 champs Thomson on Oct. 31 and finished the regular season Nov. 7 against 2001 state winner Statesboro).
Here's the big question for Greenbrier this week - is Shaw unbeatable?
Any football team is vulnerable, but the Raiders don't have many chinks in the armor. Over the past five years, the Raiders have rolled to a 49-1 record in the regular season.
This year Shaw's defensive unit has more overall speed than any squad in the state, plus the Raiders have a quick-strike offense, as evidenced by the 48-0 halftime lead in last week's no-contest with Spencer.
Shaw is led on offense by running back Jose Garcia and quarterback Derrick Powell, but the Raiders have a wealth of talent; as four different players scored on plays longer than 40 yards last week.
It looks like Greenbrier will play the role of David this week, with Shaw sizing up like Goliath.
In that regard, how can the Pack pull off an upset of Biblical proportions?
1. Play calling. Two weeks ago, when Greenbrier nearly knocked off Thomson, Pack offensive coordinator Ed Williams kept the Bulldogs guessing on defense. Imaginative play-calling will be needed against Shaw.
2. Turnovers and field position. There's no mystery to the sport of football. Teams that don't turn the ball over usually win. Shaw seems to feed off the mistakes of its opponents, and the Raiders have a penchant for forcing miscues and turning them into points. The Pack can't afford to play giveaway against the Raiders, and Greenbrier has to manage field position and make Shaw work on offense.
3. Big names, big plays. For Greenbrier to make a game of it in Columbus, it will be crucial for Pack standouts Eugene Rogers and J.C. Jennings to show up ready to play. Jennings has been quiet the past few weeks, and Greenbrier needs the junior running back to come up big in Columbus. Rogers, meanwhile, has excelled this season. If Rogers and Jennings play well, an upset could be in the cards.
Greenbrier has had a very good season, and it would be a shame to see the Pack bow out in round one of the state playoffs. But if Greenbrier advances to second-round action, the 2003 season officially would qualify as a great gridiron campaign for Greenbrier.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.