Washington-Wilkes' Daccus Turman set the single-season rushing record in Georgia in 2000 . A year later, Turman's record could be history.
Heavily recruited Screven County running back Michael Cooper has rushed for 2,159 yards and 32 touchdowns through 11 games. He needs more than 1,000 yards with four possible games remaining to break Turman's record of 3,172 yards.
"The trick is we have tougher teams now," Screven County coach Mark Daniel said. "We don't intend to give him the ball on every play. It's always possible (to break the record). But we're not playing this thing to get him the yardage."
Cooper, who gained a school-record 319 yards in one half against Liberty County, has rushed for an average 9.7 yards per carry this season. He'll get a chance to improve on that when the Gamecocks (11-0) play host to Mary Persons in the second round of the Class AAA playoffs Friday night at 7:30 p.m.
Last week, Mary Persons allowed 314 rushing yards to Harlem in its 43-22 overtime win.
Cooper, an honorable mention Class AAA selection last year, already has eclipsed last season's rushing total of 1,451 yards. That's one reason he is being sought after by such schools as Georgia, Georgia Tech, Clemson, Alabama, Tennessee, Florida, Maryland and LSU.
Daniel said Georgia, Georgia Tech and LSU are high on Cooper's list.
"He hasn't made any indication," Daniel said. "I won't mess with him about it until the season's over."
Swainsboro (8-3) played its final four games of the 2000 season on the road and won the Class AAA state title. This year, the Tigers began postseason play with a 19-17 win at Thomasville. Now, Swainsboro plays at Washington County's House of Pain on Friday at 8 p.m. in the second round of the playoffs.
If Swainsboro wins, it would play on the road at North Forsyth or Riverwood in the quarterfinals. If Washington County (10-1) wins, it would play host to the North Forsyth-Riverwood winner.
"Last year, we only played one game at home," Swainsboro coach Rayvan Teague said. "It really doesn't matter where you play. You've just got to go out and play your best."
ROAD WARRIORS, PART II:
Last season, Washington-Wilkes (8-3) played its first three playoff games at home before going to the Georgia Dome for the semifinals and Americus for the finals. This season, it's a different story.
The Tigers play at Lamar County on Friday night in the second round of the Class AA playoffs at 7:30 p.m. If Washington-Wilkes wins, it will have a quarterfinal home game if Macon County knocks off Americus. If the Tigers win and Americus wins, Washington-Wilkes could possibly play their final four games on the road.
"Our football team, it doesn't seem to bother them," Washington-Wilkes coach Frank Vohun said. "We've lost some on the road and we've won some on the road."
FACING THE BEST?
According to Lincoln County coach Larry Campbell, the Red Devils faces possibly the best linebacker in the state when they play at Bowdon in Class A second-round action Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Senior Greg Wilkerson, 6-foot-3, 220 pounds, leads Bowdon's Red Devils as a linebacker and a fullback. He recently committed to Auburn.
"He's the best one I've seen in 33 years of coaching," Campbell said. "The four games they've lost, he didn't play in."
Lincoln County (6-5) has faced Bowdon's Red Devils once before, with Lincoln County winning 24-7 in 1989.
Lincoln County will not be full strength this week. Junior running back Cortney Partlow suffered a high ankle sprain during Friday's game and is expected to play against Bowdon. But senior offensive lineman Al Hawkes went down with a knee injury and is out for the rest of the season.
"He made most of the calls on our football team," Campbell said. "To see him go out like that really took away from the victory."
Depending on how far Thomson (10-1) goes in the Class AAAA playoffs, it could have three 1,000-yard rushers this season. Junior wingback Demarco McNair has rushed for 1,015 yards and 19 touchdowns and is followed by junior quarterback Deon Palmer (811 yards, 9 TDs) and junior wingback Danny Warren (737 yards, 5 TDs).
Thomson has four possible games remaining, beginning with its second-round matchup at Cairo at 8 p.m. Friday.
"If they can pull that off, that would mean we'd still be playing," Thomson coach Luther Welsh said. "That would be great."
Reach Chris Gay at (706) 868-1222, Ext. 114.
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