By DONALD HEATH
Special to the Herald
BROOKLET – There’s a college football team from Athens that people around here follow. It was a two-time defending champion with a long winning streak entering the postseason.
Well, Southeast Bulloch’s flag football team wants a better ending than that squad.
The Yellow Jackets took care of business Tuesday night at Fred Shaver Field with wins over South Effingham, 33-0, and Jenkins, 46-0, to advance to the quarterfinals of the Division I state tournament.
SEB (20-0) extended its winning streak to 59 games and dreams of a three-peat are still in order.
The Yellow Jackets will host a four-team pod Thursday with their first game against Therrell.
With a win, they would play the winner of New Hampstead and Harris County.
Two wins and SEB would be headed to the championship game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Dec. 11 at 2 p.m.
“It’s a lot of pressure,” Jackets coach Marci Cochran said. “The (girls) might try to downplay it, but they feel it. The fans feel it. The coaches feel it. Everybody who is a part of our program feels it. It’s a double whammy right now. You don’t want to have that first loss and get knocked out of the state tournament all at the same time.”
That wasn’t happening Tuesday. Led by senior Korine Talkington and the sister wide receiver duo of Alex and Natalya Odom, SEB’s aerial show produced eight touchdown passes during a dominating night.
“We lost five seniors last year, but we’ve seemed like we didn’t have to rebuild. We just reloaded,” Cochran said. “Korine played seven games last year when our other quarterback was injured. We played a lot of games this summer and that helped us bond.”
Alex Odom had three touchdown catches, but her most spectacular catch came on a one-handed grab on the near sidelines inside the 5 to set up the Jackets’ second touchdown against South Effingham.
Natalya Odom added two scoring catches. She added another catch that eventually was lateralled to Jaci Kitching for a touchdown on SEB’s first play against Jenkins.
“There’s a lot of pressure, for sure, but you have to love the pressure,” Talkington said. “You take it in. It makes you work harder. I’m proud of my teammates.”
South Effingham, a No. 4 seed from Area 1, was the squad under pressure in the opener.
SEB scored on its first three possessions and had a 19-0 advantage midway through the second quarter. The hosts added touchdowns in the third and fourth quarters.
Talkington completed 18-of-24 passes for 229 yards and three scores. She spread the touchdown wealth to three different receivers – Alex Odom, Natalya Odom and Chloe Cochran.
Kitchings and Paige Nelson had short rushing TDs.
Alex Odom, Ava King and Isabelle Cruz added one-point, point-after-touchdown scores.
Alex Odom finished with five catches for 90 yards.
And the SEB defense played tough, allowing South to cross midfield only once en route to its 11th shutout of the season.
The Jackets punctuated the night with a bigger rout of Jenkins, a surprise 33-7 winner over second-seeded Jordan.
SEB scored on its first play and had a 20-0 lead after a Talkington TD pass to Natalya Odom on the first play of the second quarter.
Nelson ran for two scores and passed for another. Kayla Adams caught a TD pass.
“They’re doing a great job handling the success, considering they’re teenagers,” Cochran said. “We have a very successful program and for them to experience this and carry it forward has been amazing.”