SYLVANIA — Screven County has made quick work of first round opponents in the past, but the second round of the playoffs has been a different story.
Including last week’s victory over Toombs County, Screven is now 4-1 in the first round of the playoffs under Ron Duncan with a point differential of +69. However, in the second round Screven is 0-3 with a point differential of -63. As a matter of fact, Screven has yet to score double-digit points in a second round playoff game.
Granted, one of those second round opponents was eventual 2015 state champions Pace Academy — but the second round struggle is a real thing for Duncan’s Gamecocks. But Duncan isn’t worried about the peripheral, for his players he wants this to be just another game.
“At the end of the day it’s not about getting over a hump of breaking through this, it’s about winning a football game,” Duncan said. “Our goal has to just be on that.”
That goal will to beat Douglass High School, an 8-3 team out of Atlanta who’s coming off a 28-7 win over Elbert County in the first round. Douglass’ defense made quick work of Elbert last week, as it had many opponents this season. Douglass has held six of their 11 opponents to single digit points en route to allowing a total of 14.0 points per game.
And while Douglass’ defense has been good at points, they’re susceptible to springing the occasional leak. 96 of their 154 points allowed have come in losses, including a strange 34-31 loss to 2-9 B.E.S.T. Academy. But while the defense has been good, it’s the offense that makes Douglass go.
“They’re very explosive run first spread, similar to what Auburn does,” Duncan said. “They’ve got some great skill position players and a quarterback who can run and throw it.”
That quarterback is Jonathan Ford, a senior who’s accounted for 24 of Douglass’ 34 touchdowns this season. Ford averages 8.4 yards every time he touches the ball and has only committed six turnovers.
He’s flanked by running back Juan Powell, who’s scored 12 total touchdowns while averaging over ten yards a carry. Receiver Elrico McKenzie averages 26.7 yards a catch with five touchdown catches. Those are the dangerous skill players Duncan alluded to, but he has some of his own.
Screven quarterback Armani Bunbury is coming off one of his best games of his career last week against Toombs. Bunbury totaled 343 yards and four touchdown passes en route to a 35-9 first round win.
“He started off two for six with an interception on a bad ball,” Duncan said. “But after that he really started clicking and had a really good game.”
Bunbury runs the I-option as well as any quarterback in class 2A, as evidenced by his 5.7 yards per carry and nine touchdowns. And while his running mates didn’t have spectacular games last week, they made for dangerous running trio throughout the season.
Fullback CJ Wright has scored 16 touchdowns at 7.4 yards per rush while Kim Hunter has five touchdowns at 8.6 yards per carry. Between Bunbury, Wright and Hunter the three have combined for 1959 yards, forcing opponents to mind every point of the dive, quarterback and pitch in the offense.
And if that wasn’t enough, Jatarri Tanksley and Tyquan Johnson make for dangerous weapons in the passing game. Against Toombs Johnson scored three touchdowns on just five catches for 142 yards, while Tanksley had 90 yards on just four catches.
“We really did well of taking advantage of our possessions last week,” Duncan said. “There were some explosive plays for us that really put us over the top.”
Screven is currently riding a 10 game winning streak, the longest the school has had since 2002-2003 when the Gamecocks won a state championship.
While that looks like a sign of good things to come, no one can be sure until Screven can get past their second round bugaboo.
Than again, it’s worth mentioning, the last time Screven advanced out the second round they won the state championship in 2002.