WAYNESBORO, Ga. — Writing a different story in the semifinals is fine, but what matters most is creating the perfect ending.
Burke County went from a blowout defeat to a decisive victory a year later in the Class AAA semifinals, giving itself the chance to end the season by winning its first state championship.
Today, the Bears play Peach County at the Georgia Dome at 4:30 p.m. in the Class AAA state championship game.
“We can celebrate out here, but that’s not what we’re here for,” senior Montres Kitchens said at practice this week.
“We’re here to win, to win it all. That’s all we talked about, to win it all, not just go to the Georgia Dome.”
This has been the discussion for more than a year, with coach Eric Parker describing his team as business-like in understanding the final goal. There were celebrations following victories, but the focus was always on what’s ahead. Now, what was ahead is actually here.
The key clash is between Burke County’s offense and Peach County’s defense.
Both Donquell Green and Corey Mayton have eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing threshold for the Bears, and Montres Kitchens has run for more than 800 yards.
With the offensive line opening lanes in the inside and creating space for
outside runs, the Bears have
averaged almost 380 rushing yards per game in the playoffs.
But the Trojans have a defense allowing less than 10 points a game, with an opponent scoring more than 15 points just once this season.
Starting with the 2009 season – a state title year – Peach County is 41-2, surrendering 20 or more points in a game only six times and holding foes to single digits in 25 contests.
“We’ve got to try to find a way to negate their speed on defense,” Parker said.
“They are a high school version of LSU’s defense. It’s just built on speed and physical play, and they’ve always done that. That’s been their calling card since their success started. We’ve just got to find a way to keep that at bay. We can’t let them use their speed and disrupt what we do.”
For players like senior offensive lineman Charles Petrea, today is the game all players dream about. It’s a chance to win a state title and bring it home.
“There’s a lot of hype going on, a lot of talking going on,” senior DaVonte Lambert said.
“But when the lights come on in the Dome, we’ll see who’s going to last.”
Staff writer Chris Gay contributed to this story.