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Bears on outside looking in

Burke County lone team in semifinals with a loss this year

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WAYNESBORO, Ga. --- If the Class AAA semifinals were a party, Eric Parker's Bears would be the crashers.

COREY PERRINE/STAFF
Burke County players run through practice in preparation for tonight’s Class AAA state semifinal at Carrollton. It is the Bears’ first game away from home since an Oct. 22 win at Washington County. Burke needs two wins for its first state championship.

"We're the uninvited guest," the coach said.

When Burke County (11-2) travels to Carrollton (13-0) for a 7:30 kickoff tonight, the Bears take the field knowing they are the only team that has suffered a defeat among the four remaining. Carrollton, Peach County and Sandy Creek are a combined 39-0 this season with 11 total state titles, according to ghsfha.org. The Bears have yet to win one.

Now Burke County gets to test Parker's belief that this is his team's destiny, of not only winning to make the title game, but to do it on the road against an undefeated team.

This is the Bears' first road game since beating Washington County on Oct. 22. Burke County has been home for five consecutive games, including the first three rounds of the playoffs.

But Burke County is embracing its current role.

"We've been the underdog all season," quarterback Corey Mayton said.

That won't change tonight, as the Trojans have scored at least 40 points in 10 games this season and have posted six shutouts.

Running back Broderick Snoddy, a Georgia Tech signee, leads the ground attack with more than 1,000 yards, and Telvin Brown provides depth on the ground while A.J. Barge starts at quarterback.

Parker called Carrollton's offense, which runs the Wing-T, one that overwhelms the opposition. He summed up his defense as a unit that bends and bends but hasn't broken much.

The Region 3-AAA champs are also familiar with the Wing-T, with a matchup against Thomson in the region championship one of the Wing-T sightings.

Longtime Thomson defensive coordinator John Barnett said a crucial part of the Wing-T is to have big guards that are quick enough for sweeps. Barnett said Carrollton is a good Wing-T team because it prevents defenses from focusing on one threat.

"However, I assure you that coach Parker and his staff will, as always, be extremely well-prepared," Barnett said. "They always are."

Against Cairo in the quarterfinals, the Trojans dominated time of possession. Coach Rayvan Teague said after his team often scored quickly early in the season, better defenses have forced longer drives. Though Carrollton's defense continues to make stops, ball control has been crucial in Trojan wins, with Teague adding the best defense is a good offense.

Burke County has a potent offense of its own as Mayton and freshman Donquell Green teamed up to rush for 245 yards in the quarterfinal victory against Cedar Grove.

"(Mayton) runs downhill exceptionally well, and of course the smaller one is an explosive player -- he's dangerous any time he touches it," Teague said. "There's very little difference no matter which one is under the center."

Tonight, the Bears could put themselves one game closer to making history.

Fans have taken notice; lineman Willie Williams said people have come up to him even at gas stations asking him questions. District schools are also closed today.

However, there are still two more games to take.

"People are asking, 'How did Burke get here?' " Parker said. "But there's no chance to celebrate. Our kids are here and know what it takes. They're humble and hungry."

Tale of the tape
BURKE COUNTY CARROLLTON
Eric ParkerCoachRayvan Teague
3-AAARegion6-AAA
11-2Record13-0
102-63Overall Record187-60-1
34-13At current school94-18
37.3Points per game44.5
15Points against per game6.3
0State titles7
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