SANDERSVILLE, Ga. -- Rick Tomberlin could easily point out a few of the little things about his team's seasonopening performance that didn't live up to standards.
That's what it has come to at Washington County.
It's not about simply winning anymore. It's about the quest for high school football perfection.
"I thought what you saw were a few early season mistakes, especially the penalties, but how could I not be pleased by our effort tonight," said Tomberlin, as the No. 1-ranked Golden Hawks began their quest for a second straight Class AA championship and third title in four years with the easy disposal of Class AAAA Baldwin, 48-7 Friday night at the House of Pain.
"I never expected the score to be that lopsided. This really was the type of effort we all had hoped for to start the season."
Although three turnovers and unnecessary penalties on offense weren't quite to the fiery fifth-year coach's liking, the Hawks' defense lived up to expectations, forcing three turnovers while limiting Baldwin to 59 yards of total offense.
The Braves managed one yard of offense in the first half and did not pick up a first down until the 9:22 mark of
the third quarter. They scored their lone TD on a 25-yard pass from quarterback Michael Stewart to Montilius Green against the Hawks' second defensive unit.
"I'll tell you, that team's impressive," said Baldwin coach Bill Young, whose Braves played the Hawks tougher in last year's season-opener. Baldwin was down 21-14 with two minutes left in the game before the Hawks iced it with a late TD to win 28-14.
"They're a lot more physical than they were a year ago, and a lot more mature, especially (Terrence) Edwards. He is one incredible player, and they're a pretty incredible football team."
Washington County scored on five of its first six possessions, and the defense scored early in the third quarter to make it 34-0. Jessie Miller forced Baldwin quarterback Michael Stewart to fumble with a jarring hit, and Terrance Walden scooped up the loose ball and ran it back 6 yards for a TD.
Edwards, the Hawks' senior all-state quarterback, ran for a 24-yard touchdown on the Hawks first possession, and added a 7-yard TD pass to tight end Keith Reeves late in the first half.
"We were a little bit disappointed offensively, but I think we played up to our capability on defense," said Miller, the Hawks' senior all-state linebacker who made his first career start at fullback, rushing for 120 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries. "The penalties and turnovers bothered us a little, and it was a little disappointing that we didn't get the shutout on defense. But this was a great night."
After Baldwin broke up the shutout, Hawks senior Vic Miller, Jessie's brother, capped the evening with a 89-yard return of the ensuing kickoff for a TD in the fourth quarter.
"I think it was a great start for us," said Edwards, who finished with 108 yards rushing with one TD and was 2-for-3 passing for 26 yards. "I think we came out here with a mission and expected to dominate them tonight. We showed why everyone in the state picked us number one."
Baldwin -- 0 0 0 7- 0
Washington County -- 7 21 13 7- 48
WC- Terrence Edwards 24 run (Carl Aycock kick)
WC- Steven Grant 23 run (Aycock kick)
WC- Jessie Miller 5 run (Aycock kick)
WC- Edwards 7 pass to Keith Reeves (Aycock kick)
WC- Terrance Walden 6 fumble recovery (kick failed)
WC- Miller 43 run (Aycock kick)
B- Montilius Green 25 pass from Michael Stewart (Matt McCabe kick)
WC- Vic Miller 89 kickoff return (Aycock kick)