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Burke County's title run is the talk of the town

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WAYNESBORO, Ga. — A big-screen television broadcast financial news inside Mobley’s Cafeteria.

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Many signs around Waynesboro, Ga., show support for Burke County High School. The Bears are bidding for their first state title Saturday against Peach County.  CHRIS GAY/STAFF
Many signs around Waynesboro, Ga., show support for Burke County High School. The Bears are bidding for their first state title Saturday against Peach County.

Amid the smorgasbord of fried chicken, mashed potatoes and black-eyed peas, patrons like Johnny Jenkins paid no attention to the squawking on TV. All the talk this week: Burke County football.

“It’s just excitement all over town,” Jenkins said. “It’s time to rob the town Saturday. We’re all going to be in Atlanta.”

The community is abuzz about the Bears, who will try to win their first state championship when they face Peach County for the Class AAA title at 4:30 p.m. Saturday in the Georgia Dome.

Burke County, playing its first state championship game since 1997, has sold out its allotment of 4,000 tickets. Fans can purchase tickets at the dome for $20.

With the school playing in At­lanta, the annual Jaycees Christ­mas parade, originally scheduled for Saturday, has been postponed to next week. The football team has been asked – win or lose – to be the grand marshal of the parade, according to Burke County athletic director Wade Marchman.

“Hopefully,” Marchman said, “we’ll have a celebration parade.”

Marchman has been employed at Burke County since 1988. He said he has never seen such electricity around town like he has during this state playoff run. Signs placed throughout the community – including one by private Edmund Burke Academy – show support for the Bears. And the talk this week at popular eating spots such as Mobley’s mainly concerns one thing.

“Everything is all about football now,” restaurant owner Roy Black said. “Everybody’s looking forward to Saturday.”

For older residents, Burke County’s deep playoff run brings back memories of 1957, when Waynesboro High School won the town’s only state title. Sardis-Girard-Alexander and Waynesboro high schools were consolidated in 1987, forming Burke County High School.

The Bears won their first state playoff contest in 1997. Jenkins, the owner of Goldberg’s Furniture, remembers the thrill of that season, when his daughter was a team cheerleader. Burke County reeled off a 10-game winning streak and advanced to the state championship, losing at Thomas County Central, 21-19.

Farmer Matthew Jenkins, a 1996 Burke County graduate, is a regular attendee at football games. He said he is excited about the team’s chance of finishing where the 1997 team left off.

“They’ve played hard all year,” he said. “We’ve been talking about how good their running game is and how fast the players are.”

While many fans will travel Saturday to Atlanta, several people will remain home. Black will be in town the day of the big game, running his restaurant.

On Waynesboro’s main drag, Burke Perk will be open. Debbie Salter, a lifelong Waynesboro resident who works at the full-service bakery with her daughter and co-owner Sarah-Ann Kelly, said a large projector screen will be brought in for the televised contest. Last week, Burke Perk personnel placed a projector screen in front of the piano up front for the SEC Championship Game. Many people gathered around it.

“I was working in the kitchen, and you could hear the hootin’ and the hollerin’,” Salter said.

Salter said that though she and her family will remain in town, they will root for Burke County.

“We’re all excited about the game,” she said. “We’re going to be here supporting the team. We’re ready.”


WHAT: Class AAA state finals, Burke County vs. Peach County

WHEN: 4:30 p.m. Saturday

WHERE: Georgia Dome, Atlanta

BROADCAST: PBS-Ch. 20, gpb.org/sports and GHSA.tv

TICKETS: $20 through the Georgia Dome or Ticketmaster



of The Blitz, featuring

anaylsis and interviews with Eric Parker, Montres Kitchens and DaVonte Lambert at augustachronicle.com.


Wayne Staats and Chris Gay on Twitter @WStaats8 and @AUG_ChrisGay for game-day updates from the Georgia Dome.

Comments (9) Add comment
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TrulyWorried 12/08/11 - 11:42 pm
Good Luck - Burke County

Good Luck - Burke County (good neighbor!)

OhWell 12/09/11 - 05:57 am
As a former Burke County

As a former Burke County resident and Mother of Edmund Burke Academy Students it appears football has brought the community together in more ways than one. Many loyal Burke County fans have also been GREAT supporters of the Spartans as they made a mighty fight for a State Title also. I think this shows everyone has their own reasons for choosing one school over another for their children but everyone can work together to support and educate the children of Burke County. GO BEARS!

Riverman1 12/09/11 - 07:33 am
If a kid can't make the team

If a kid can't make the team at a public school, you can always find a private school where the guards weigh 130 lbs and he can make it. Might cost you a little bit.

southside 12/09/11 - 08:37 am
This is what happens when a

This is what happens when a community comes together and provides opportunities to its students for success. Taking two small schools and merging them together to create a culture for winning and student achievement is priceless. Perhaps this is something to consider in Richmond County. Imagine what it would do for student-athletes to be a part of something larger than just playing games in the county and never a bigger stage because the student athletes just aren't there. It would also solve the GHSA classification issues in Richmond County as well. Just a thought.

hoopshype 12/09/11 - 09:21 am
Dont understand southside.

Dont understand southside. Butler played for a boys stae championship last year and Laney girls and boys made it to to final four. Glenn Hills girls and boys won state championships in 02 and 08. Heph girls 05 , Josey 1998 and ARC girls 1997. Westside Boys 95. Unless you are referring to football?

faithson 12/09/11 - 09:36 am
good luck Burke county

good luck Burke county

junkyardpig 12/09/11 - 02:32 pm
burke county has been

burke county has been mentioned very little all season by this news sources. many times games of the week were showing teams with poorer ratings and news always talking about south carolina schools, lincoln county, thomson, warren county, and jefferson county. butler and burke county got little billing even though they are closer in distance and having very good seasons. now you all waqnt a piece of the pie. burke county residence stick together always.

jukelley 12/09/11 - 03:25 pm
I'm so proud of my Burke

I'm so proud of my Burke County Bears!! They have had an awesome season. I can't wait to watch them play in the Dome Saturday. I'll be cheering, along with the rest of our fans, as our team leaves everything on the field in its attempt to bring home the Championship. I just want everyone to know that our guys are a terrific group of kids outside of football as well. I wish the very best for them Saturday, but even more, in life as they move forward. Keep your heads up, study hard, and work as hard in life as you have in football! I can't wait to watch you all succeed! Go BEARS!

Chris Gay
Chris Gay 12/09/11 - 03:38 pm
@junkyardpig, I don't know

@junkyardpig, I don't know what "news sources" you're talking about. We cover about 50 schools in the area. It's impossible to give one school wall-to-wall coverage all the time. However, teams that advance farther in the playoffs are going to get more coverage, obviously, than others. I hope you're enjoying this week's full-tilt coverage of Burke County. We will be at the Georgia Dome writing about the Bears. Best of luck to Burke County.

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