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Screven shooting for upset over Fitzgerald
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    The Screven County Gamecocks are one win better and one seed higher heading into the GHSA Class-AA State Playoffs than they were in 2006. While the improvement is nice, SCHS won’t settle. The goal is to advance in the playoffs.
    “We got back in the playoffs last year and we’re a higher seed this year,” said Gamecock coach Pat Collins, “so we’re a little better that way, but just getting there is not what we want to do. We want to get there and win a ballgame or two, or three, or four or five. You can’t win two before you win one, so we want to go out there and win a playoff game (tonight).”
    No. 3-seed Screven will travel to the No. 2 seed out of Region 1-AA, Fitzgerald. The Purple Hurricanes’ only loss of 2007 came against the region champs — a 28-14 decision on the road at Thomasville.
    Collins likes the way his Gamecocks match up with FHS. Both teams run similar offenses. They like both like to run the ball from multiple looks based out of the Wing-T.
    “We’re very familiar with what they do,” said Collins. “We are very multiple with our formations, and I think we’ve got a very good understanding of how they try to use formations to gain advantage. I feel that we match up with that.”
    The Screven offense attacks with a slew of running backs. Led by quarterback MJ Johnson and 1,000-yard rusher junior Travis Coles, they can also attack from the slots with guys like Todd Scott and Cameron Abraham.
    Collins has also worked some new wrinkles into the SCHS offense, and he feels that it is important to pull out all of the stops during the playoffs.
    “We’re a ball-control, running team,” Collins said. “We’ve got some things in our passing game that we’ve not used that we may have to pull out. There’s no sense in holding anything back from the playbook this week, because if you don’t take care of business you can put the playbook up for a year.
    “We’ve got a few wrinkles in for this game that we haven’t shown. There are things that our boys can do and are comfortable doing. We won’t hold anything back, because if you don’t take care of this Friday, there is no next Friday.”
    Defensively, Collins hopes to shut down the bread and butter of the Hurricane running game.
    “Their No. 1 play is the fullback trap, their No. 2 play is the halfback sweep and their No. 3 play is the counter,” said Collins. “The bottom line is that if you stop those three plays, you’ve got a good chance of beating them.”
    Not having won a playoff game since the 2002 championship run, the Gamecocks are glad to be back in the playoffs for the second-straight year, and Collins feels that the program is continuing to head in the right direction. The most important thing, said Collins, is that his team has the opportunity to keep playing the game.
    “We’re excited about the opportunity to play another week,” said the Screven coach. “We want to go to Fitzgerald and win that ballgame so these boys can keep playing. Playoffs are meant to be fun for boys and communities and kids. Heck, we want to have as much fun as we can have. There’s no sense in letting it end short. Let’s try to win us a ballgame.
    “We’re in the playoffs. That’s the goal. The attitude was just excellent at practice this week. Our boys hopped around and they’re excited to be where they are. We want to take advantage of the blessing we’ve had to be where we are and do something with it.”
    Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. and the game can be heard live on 106.5 FM.

    Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9404.