Eighteen years had passed since Vyus Downs experienced this kind of exhilaration.
Downs was a senior on the Glenn Hills football team that made the state playoffs in 1986.
He is an assistant on the Spartans team that locked up a berth Friday night with a 26-7 win over Richmond Academy.
A wait that was nearing two decades finally ended for Downs and Glenn Hills.
"It's overwhelming," Downs said. "To actually play and go to the playoffs and then come back as a coach - it's amazing."
Glenn Hills (8-1, 5-0) closes its regular season next week at home versus Thomson (7-1, 4-0) with the Region 3-AAA North title potentially on the line.
Richmond Academy defensive coordinator Gene Crislip said this might be Glenn Hills' best product since the 1983 team that won 13 consecutive games.
He ought to know. Crislip was the head coach of that team during his 13-year tenure at Glenn Hills.
"I'm happy for them," Crislip said. "The program's been down a long time. I'm glad to see them have some success."
Senior linebacker Reggie Wesby said the team's upperclassmen set out before the season to resurrect the school's winning past.
"We want to set the record book straight that we're not a pushover team anymore," Wesby said.
Wesby and the Spartans defense, coach Felix Curry said, have been the tone-setters for the team all season. Friday was no different.
Wesby must have taken offense to Richmond Academy picking up its initial first down late in the first quarter.
On the next play, he bodyslammed running back Fred Claiborne for a 2-yard loss. The Spartans stopped Marquel Jordan for no gain on second down.
On third-and-12, Musketeers quarterback Jacob Sullivan, saw no one open and took off. He was met 6 yards later by Wesby.
"We're a very, very aggressive team," Wesby said. "That's what we practice all week - aggression and focus and letting them know that we're there."
Sullivan fumbled. Jordan recovered, but the Musketeers (1-7, 1-3) did not.
The Spartans held ARC to 27 rushing yards on 32 carries.
The Spartans concluded their postgame huddle by chanting "state champs" in unison.
How they fare against Thomson will go a long way in determining that notion's plausibility.
Reach Travis Haney at (706) 823-3219 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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