There’s no avoiding that big elephant in the corner of the room over there. Emanuel County Institute was in this exact position just one year ago — a 10-0 record, a region 3-A title and a No. 1 seed in the state playoffs. Result: A 10-6 loss to Hawkinsville.
“We haven’t even talked about last year,” said ECI coach Milan Turner. “The kids haven’t, the coaches haven’t — because it’s a new year. Heck, we lost 10 or 12 good seniors and we have 10 or 12 new ones. The kids played hard last year — the turnover bug got us. We’re not going to preach anything different than we do any other game. I don’t feel, as a head coach, it would be good to go in there and say, ‘Ok guys, remember what happened last year.’ Let’s not put any more pressure on them than they’ve already got.”
To make things even more similar to 2006, the Bulldogs welcome a team much better than its record and standing.
Seminole County (6-4, 5-3 Region 1-A) has won three in a row coming in. The Indians could be at 8-2 were it not for two forfeits due to an ineligible player in games against Westover and Atkinson County.
“It’s kind of like last year,” said Turner. “They’ve been ranked in the Top Five all year in single A. They had to forfeit a couple of games and because of those forfeits they dropped all the way down to a four seed.”
Seminole is led by quarterback Bacarri Rambo, who has committed to play for the University of Georgia. Stopping the Indians’ option attack will be key for ECI.
“They’re good,” Turner added. “They’re big up front. We’re going to have to play assignment football. On defense they pile everyone in the box and play man coverage so they’re going to make it hard on us to run the ball. So we’re going to have to be creative.”
If the Bulldogs can get past Seminole, they should have a favorable match-up between the winner of Dooly County and Pacelli. But first things’ first.
“It’s kind of a catch 22,” said Turner. “On the one hand, it’s going to be a heck of a first round ballgame. On the other hand it’s not much of a reward for going 10-0. But if you’re going to be the best you have to beat the best.”
Chad Bishop can be reached at (912) 489-9408.