When you have the leading punter and one of the leading place kickers in the conference, there are a lot of different things that have to mesh.
When your long snapper and punter/holder, grew up as bitter rivals, it complicates things even more.
Georgia Southern punter Charlie Edwards and long snapper Carter Jones experienced such a rivalry on and off the field in high school.
Edwards, a former Tift County star in baseball and football, and Jones, a former Colquitt County Packer, both played football, both were standouts at third base, and both spent their high school days letting each other know who was boss.
“It’s always been a heated rivalry,” said Jones. “There were times when we would see him outside of school, or get a text message, and we’d let him know how we really felt about him.”
The pair played their last regular-season prep football game on the same field in 2006, and there was a lot riding on it. Three overtimes later, Edwards got the best of the rivalry.
“It was triple-overtime my senior year,” Jones said. “If they won, they were [Region 1-AAAAA] champions. If we won, we would have gone to the playoffs.”
Edwards, the Blue Devils’ place kicker, had the opportunity to seal the deal with a game-winning field goal in the 38-35 win.
“We had heard he had done it many times before,” Jones said about Edwards. “He had always been in the papers and stuff, and he was about to set some field-goal records. We jumped offsides about twice.”
“Three times,” corrected Edwards.
“Right, three times,” continued Jones. “We just made it an easier kick, but he made every one of them. He knocked it through, and I wasn’t too happy with him that night.”
Jones got his revenge on the baseball diamond on senior night. The Packers knocked off Tift County, completing the season sweep of Edwards and the Blue Devils.
After graduation, the pair went their separate ways — Jones to GSU and Edwards to Alabama-Birmingham — and they thought they had seen the last of each other.
They were wrong.
Edwards decided Conference USA wasn’t the right fit, so he transferred to Georgia Southern for the 2008 season. Upon arrival in Statesboro, he was given a shock — there was his old rival.
“I saw a kid from Moultrie on the roster, I looked at his name and I thought, ‘Oh man, this is going to be fun,’” said Edwards. “I actually ended up — by mistake — sitting by him at my first team meeting. That was kind of interesting.”
Then, they found out just how much they would be working together.
“Him being the holder and the punter,” Jones said, “we didn’t have much of a choice but to get along.”
The mutual feelings left over from the rivalry quickly disappeared.
“It lasted about all of a week, but after that it was fine,” said Edwards, who roomed with Jones until this season when the first-year coaching staff required all players to live on campus. “When we got over it, we managed to have some pretty good times.”
“Just being on the team together let us know how we were being kind of childish at some points,” Jones added. “Now I get to take him back to Moultrie.”
“I actually get to hang out with all the [Colquitt County] guys who used to call me,” said Edwards.
This is the third year of GSU football for the pair which, along with place kicker Adrain Mora, has been handling the kicking game since 2008. In the first-round playoff game against South Carolina State on Nov. 27, they experienced something new. Edwards completed a pass to Jones on a fake field goal. The wobbly 14-yard pass and the catch in traffic in the other end made Edwards and Jones the team’s leading passer and receiver in the game.
“You don’t get many opportunities to make a play,” said Edwards about being on special teams, “so you’ve got to get it done every time. The only thing [Jones] gets to do is snap a ball, and he made a catch that nobody in the world though he was going to make. I still don’t know how he caught it.”
“We hated each other back in the day, but I don’t think there’s much anything we don’t do together now,” said Jones of the friendship. “Never thought I’d be catching a pass from him, that’s for sure, let alone snapping his punts and his holds.”
The friendship helps the pair to relate on the field when the Eagles are facing adversity.
“Being a specialist, you don’t get very much attention. It’s nice to have someone who understands and goes through it with you,” said Jones. “If I mess up, he’s the first one who comes to me and tells me it’s alright. We’re always there for each other. In a heated battle, not everyone’s on your side.”
The Eagles (9-4) face Wofford (10-2) Saturday at 2 p.m. in Spartanburg, S.C. in the quarterfinals of the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.
Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.