Halfway through the season, the Metter Tigers found themselves with their backs against the wall.
After breaking a nine-year playoff drought last season, Metter began the 2014 campaign with four losses in its first six games. Two weeks later, the Tigers are sitting at 4-4 and still have a fighting chance as the regular season enters its final two weeks.
One of the big reasons for the Tigers’ turnaround are the ongoing efforts of running back Chris Tarver. In last week’s 48-14 trouncing of East Laurens, the junior racked up 298 yards on just 13 carries and found the end zone four times.
“We have a lot of guys who know what it takes to win and aren’t afraid to put in the work,” Metter coach Mike West said. “Chris is definitely one of those guys. He helped us get to the playoffs last year and he’s having another solid season this year.”
Solid might be a bit of an understatement. Tarver has 932 rushing yards so far this season and is likely to be asked to get plenty more as Metter needs wins over Swainsboro and Screven County heading down the stretch.
“Honestly, I think we were a better team this year at 2-4 than we were at 4-2 last season,” West said. “We had some injuries that hurt, but it’s guys like Chris and the rest who have been down this road who haven’t given up and who have gotten us back into the race.”
Ashley Burke has been running cross country for Bulloch Academy since her first year of eligibility in the eighth grade. Throughout those five seasons, Burke has starred for the Lady Gators, but it took her entire varsity career to reach one final milestone.
Last week, Burke finally topped the field to become the overall individual champion at the region meet held in
At the state meet held in Albany — and in the final race of her career with the Gators — Burke turned in a personal best time of 20:49 to finish seventh overall.
“Ashley has been running since elementary school,” Bulloch coach Jessica Rushing said. “What a great way to end for her in high school. Not only did she exceed expectations to finish seventh in state, but she knocked minutes off of her best time.
“When you’re normally running solid times like she does, knocking off seconds is hard enough. For her to knock off minutes shows the kind of special runner she has been.”
Burke is done with cross country, but is now on to different pursuits with the Gators.
She has played her last softball game and run her last cross country race for Bulloch, but will soon take to the basketball court to help the Gators defend their 2013-14 state championship.