At press time, only Augusta Christian was still alive in postseason football action.
While none of our public schools made the playoffs, there were some good things that took place this year.
A few teams faced tough circumstances due to injuries, and others had inconsistent play that made judging their season difficult, but here is an end-of-the-year report card for each of our teams.
Evans (6-4) Grade: C
This was a tough call. Evans had the best record of all the public schools in the county. It opened the season with impressive wins over Richmond Academy and Grovetown. It also knocked off Statesboro on the road.
However, that is why I gave the Knights a C, because I thought this team could do much more.
They lost to both Greenbrier and Lakeside. In the loss to Greenbrier, they managed just six points against a team that allowed more than 20 points per game.
The Lakeside loss was more puzzling. It was the biggest game of the year. The winner stayed alive in the playoff race, while the loser was on the outside looking in. This was a close matchup, so losing would not have been anything to hang their heads about, but they simply did not show up in a 31-0 loss.
Quarterback Glenn Cassedy: He had some great moments this season, and played with a ton of heart.
Running back Will Scott: Emerged as the Knights' top back.
Defensive lineman Kyle Henderson: The big fella showed great improvement throughout the season.
Turnovers: Coughing up the football killed the Knights in several games this season.
Leadership: I am not there every day, but it just seemed like when things went bad, the Knights did not have anyone to step up and lead the team.
Greenbrier (3-7) Grade: C
Greenbrier opened the season with a nice, come-from-behind win over Grovetown, and they played Richmond Academy and Hephzibah tough in a pair of losses. But aside from the Evans win, there were not many other highlights for the team.
I temper my grade for Greenbrier due to the fact it played most of the season without starting quarterback Scott Reeder. In the final seven games, with the exception of South Effingham, the Wolfpack were facing teams with more talent.
Running back Jahvon Hardrick: One of the pleasant surprises in the entire county. He came out of nowhere to lead the county in rushing.
Defensive back Thomas Brown: Some athletes simply look the part. Put this junior standout in that category.
Lack of passing game: Without Reeder, they became one-dimensional. Jordan Hunt was thrown in to the fire. He will be much better with more seasoning.
Grovetown (4-6) Grade: C
Like Greenbrier, when judging Grovetown I have to keep several factors in mind. First, it is only in its second year of existence. Also, they closed out the season with three of the hottest teams in the area.
Through seven games the Warriors were 4-3, but could have easily been 7-0. They led in the fourth quarter in narrow losses to Greenbrier, Evans and Butler.
Running Game: Jamal Cummings, D.J. Tyson and quarterback Xavier Crain gave head coach Rodney Holder three solid options. Cummings is just a sophomore and has a very bright future.
Desire: I thought Grovetown played hard even when things were not going well for them. The Musketeers simply overmatched the Warriors, but they played hard until the final horn sounded.
Passing Game: Crain is one heck of an athlete, but he struggled throwing the football this year, completing less than 40 percent of his passes.
Harlem (3-7) Grade: C
Based on defections to Grovetown, and with the improvements at Josey and Butler, I thought Harlem was facing a 1-9 season. I thought it could beat Westside and Cross Creek was a toss-up.
Not only did the Bulldogs beat Westside and Cross Creek, but they also knocked off a Glenn Hills team that was much more talented.
I actually considered giving Harlem a B-. The Bulldogs were playing up a classification, and got more out of their team than just about anyone in the area.
However, at the end of the day, you are not looking for moral victories, and the Bulldogs managed a total of only 23 points against their top six opponents.
Heart: The Bulldogs did not quit on their coach. They scored 84 points in their final three games, after managing only 37 points in the first seven. Also, they nearly beat Josey and did beat Glenn hills.
Numbers: The Bulldogs simply do not have the players to seriously compete with the top teams in 2-AAA. The minute Grovetown opened its doors, Harlem was put at a disadvantage by losing more than two dozen players from their program.
Lakeside (4-6) Grade: B-
OK, how did a team with a losing record get a B-?
Well, Lakeside had a number of factors going against it this season. First, the Panthers had a new head coach. Not just new to them; this was Jarret Troxler's first head coaching job. Then throw in that Lakeside played Thomson, Northside-Warner Robins and North Augusta as part of its nonregion schedule.
Oh, and the Panthers lost their top players on both sides of the ball to injuries right before the start of the season. Sure, the Panthers were coming off a 10-win season, but if you really dissect their season, 4-6 was not awful. They lost at Thomson by a field goal in the closing seconds with a 10-9 score. Harlem and Grovetown both played Thomson on their home turf, and lost by a combined 84-14. The Panthers also lost a heartbreaker to Statesboro 26-24 on a late field goal.
After a 1-4 start, they won three of their next four games to put themselves in position to earn a playoff spot, before losing to Ware County in the final game of the season. Also, keep in mind they beat Evans and Greenbrier by a combined score of 51-0.
Coaching: Troxler won me over this year.
I actually think we have some great coaches in the county right now, and I only single Troxler out because he took over for a team coming off their best season in school history, and lost his starting quarterback and best defensive player before the season.
Leadership: When they stepped on the field in big games they came ready to play. I do not think they had any better athletes than Evans, but they simply were not going to lose that game.
I have seen few teams the past few years more "up" for a match up than the Panthers were on Oct. 29.
Passing defense: If opposing quarterbacks were given time to throw, they had some success against the Panthers. Losing Khadi Tshishiku off last year's team certainly did not help.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.