LOUISVILLE, Ga. - Is Tyrese Burnett the next great product of Washington County's storied football program?
Golden Hawks coach Rick Tomberlin thinks so, and Burnett lived up to his billing Friday night, rushing for a career-high 196 yards and five touchdowns in a 35-0 win over Region 3-AAA rival Jefferson County.
"He's going to be a great one; we think he's very, very, very special," said Tomberlin, who has coached future college and NFL stars, including Takeo Spikes and Terrence Edwards. "We had a goal for him for the regular season to go over 1,000 yards, and he surpassed that, so good for him. He's a wonderful kid, too, and has a chance to be a great one."
The elusive Burnett, a 5-foot-10, 170-pound tailback, made big plays out of nothing, breaking tackle after tackle to leave Warriors defenders shaking their heads in disbelief.
Burnett finished the regular season with 1,166 yards and 13 touchdowns, as the Golden Hawks (9-1, 6-0) advance to the first round of the Class AAA playoffs at home next week against Swainsboro.
Jefferson County (3-7-0, 3-3), which had won three straight after an 0-6 start to clinch a playoff berth, travels to face No. 2-ranked Screven County next week in the first round.
"He's a good football player, and he's only a sophomore, which is impressive," Jefferson County coach J.B. Arnold said. "We made too many mistakes tonight and didn't tackle well. But Washington County does an excellent job."
Washington County scored on its first two possessions, with a pair of Burnett touchdown runs to make it 14-0. But the Golden Hawks' quick and physical defense dominated the rest of the way to close out the regular season unbeaten in the region for the first time since 1997.
"I'm proud of the fact that we swept the region and got a shutout win on the road," Tomberlin said. "I'm happy for our seniors. Now we've got to look at the playoffs. It's a whole new season."