CLAXTON — A pair of postseason aspirations are on the line tonight as Bryan County travels to The Pecan Grove to take on Claxton in a Region 3E-A showdown.
After three straight seasons of falling a game short of the state playoffs, the Tigers (4-3, 1-2) have been dead set on finally getting over the hump this year.
Things started off well — a 3-1 record, including wins over Class-AA competition in Tattnall County and Toombs County. Unfortunately for the Tigers, those non-region wins don’t help their chase for the playoffs.
Claxton dropped a sub-region game to No. 1 Savannah Christian and suffered an overtime heartbreaker at Calvary Day two weeks ago. The Tigers stayed in the hunt with a win against Savannah Country Day last week and have an opportunity to get one step closer to another play-in round appearance if they can win again tonight.
“We knew that it was going to be a fight this season,” said Claxton coach Allen Cartwright. “I thought that Savannah Christian might have a leg up on everyone — and they have — but everything else has been pretty even from week to week.”
Leading the way for Claxton tonight will be the balanced offensive force of quarterback Michael Peel, running backs Shavez Mincey and Khalil Brewton and receiver Lebron Glover. Combined the three have formed solid running and passing attacks, making it difficult for opposing defenses to shut them down.
“It’s tough when you face a team with that many playmakers,” said Bryan County coach Mark Wilson. “You can’t key on any one person to stop the offense. We’ll definitely have our hands full.”
Bryan County will counter with Nick Scott, who is third among area running backs with 727 yards on the ground this season. He’ll need another big performance to continue his team’s Cinderella run.
The Redskins (5-2, 1-2) are in uncharted waters, coming off of an 0-10 season last year and on pace for their best performance since 1991. Bryan County stormed out of the gates to the tune of five straight wins, but sub-region losses in its last two games have the Redskins in need of another victory to advance into the region play-in round.
“It’s been a couple of tough losses,” said Mark Wilson. “We were in it until the end against a couple of good teams. We’ve got to shake that off and keep playing hard.”
Wilson has done a remarkable job in his short time with the Redskins. He got them through last year’s rough season, but emerged out the other side with a more experienced group of players that have turned the corner for the program.
Wilson stated that —despite a lack of success in previous seasons — there was plenty of reason to set the postseason as a goal for his team. The Redskins are now within sight of that goal, but still need another notch in the win column.
“This is still a very young team,” said Wilson. “We’re still learning each week. That also means that there’s still room to get better. We haven’t been in a situation like this yet, but this is when some guys can step up.”
Mike Anthony can be reached at (912) 489-9404.