ATLANTA — Burke County defensive coordinator Michael Youngblood said he’s disappointed with the lack of colleges coming by to take a look at his defenders.
That might change following the Bears’ 28-14 win over Peach County in the Class AAA championship game Saturday night at the Georgia Dome.
“We’ve got some kids who can play,” said Youngblood, whose defense allowed 11.7 points a game this season. “Hopefully, we’ll get some recruiters through so we can send these kids off to some great schools.”
After giving up touchdowns to the Trojans on two of their first three drives, the Burke County defense squeezed its vise grips. The Bears forced three turnovers and limited Peach County to 17 yards of total offense in the second half.
Just before intermission, the Trojans tried to add to its eight-point lead, driving down to the Burke County 31. But Montres Kitchens leaped high in the end zone to intercept quarterback Kentel Kendrick.
“I just didn’t want them to score again,” Kitchens said. “I had to get it.”
With the score tied at 14, Antwan Walker dived for an interception of Kendrick at the Burke County 23. The Bears, feeding off the momentum, then established a 13-play, 77-yard scoring drive to take their first lead of the contest. Corey Mayton’s 1-yard run gave Burke County the go-ahead touchdown late in the third quarter.
“If they make a big stop,” Mayton said, “that just encourages us more to go down the field and punch it in for a touchdown.”
Burke County’s defense bottled up Peach County’s ground game, limiting Trojans leading rusher Darion Howard to minus-3 yards in the second half thanks to plays by Denzell Warthen, Jessie Bush and DaVonte Lambert. AlsoKendrick was sacked four times, three times in the second half.
“If you want to win the state championship, you have to play lights out on defense. There’s no ifs, ands or buts,” Youngblood said. “The momentum started to shift and we got some positive things going offensively. And then defense just fed off that and kept getting stops.”