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ECI one step away from the Dome
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    Week after week, the football team at Emanuel County Institute faces its toughest test yet.
    Round One of the playoffs — a 49-23 drubbing of Seminole County.
    Round Two of the playoffs — a 35-0 beat down of Dooly County.
    Round Three of the playoffs — a date with another powerful team that calls themselves the Screaming Devils
    Despite rising to the top of the ranks of Class A, winning 12 straight games and having the best running back in the state, the Bulldogs (12-0) may still be underrated.
    Heading into tonight’s quarterfinal match with Warren County out of Warrenton, ECI is still considered underdogs by some. A win tonight will give them their first trip to the Georgia Dome.
    “We’ve had a really good week of practice and I think the kids are excited,” said ECI head coach Milan Turner. “We’re ready to go out there and play. They know (what’s on the line), you can’t hide it from them. We don’t talk about it much. Our goal is to win a state championship and you can’t do that unless you go to the Dome.”
    Turner added it will be his fifth time making the trip to downtown Atlanta and he’s seen what it means to the kids.
    “I’ve been a bunch and if I don’t ever get to go again that’s one thing,” he said. “But I want it for these kids and this community — they deserve it.”
    Washaun Ealey will continue his storybook season tonight. The junior has broken the single-season touchdown record — previously held by Buford’s Darius Walker — with 48 and counting.
    “That was neat. It was big for him and it was big for his offensive line,” Turner said. “I think it says a lot about those guys. Especially when a kid gets close (to the record), people start keying on him and then you really got to make sure you’re blocking well because everybody’s running to him.”
    Warren’s defense will no doubt have all eyes on Ealey. The Devils 4-4 alignment likes to slant up front and use its big linebackers to make plays.
    On the offensive side of the ball, quarterback Tommy Seals runs an option offense comparable to the Georgia Southern attacks of old. Turner said the Bulldogs must play assignment football have their best tackling game of the season.
    Tonight’s kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. and the Dogs are expecting the biggest crowd in Rountree Stadium history. Turner invited anybody and everybody to break out their red shirts and pack the house for tonight’s game.

    Chad Bishop can be reached at (912) 489-9408.