The first game was not pretty. It was a defensive struggle on a wet field, Washington County beat Swainsboro 7-0 on Sept. 20.
In fact, the only score came when Golden Hawks linebacker Ray Moon picked up a fumble and ran 24 yards for the touchdown.
It was not an impressive game by either team.
The fourth-seeded Tigers and the top-seeded Golden Hawks (9-1) will have a rematch Friday when they meet at 7:30 p.m. in the first round of the Class AAA playoffs at Washington County's The House of Pain.
"We've improved a lot since then," Washington County coach Rick Tomberlin said. "At the time, we were coming off a disappointing loss (a 32-28 defeat to Dublin), and we had an entire week off to think about it. We're more mature and more seasoned. Now, we're a lot more confident."
Swainsboro (4-6) is also a lot more confident.
"We played real good defensively that game," Tigers coach Shane Williamson said. "And offensively, we've gotten better."
Tomberlin can't help but agree.
In the teams' last encounter, Tomberlin said, Swainsboro still was searching for an offensive identity.
The Tigers ran a spread offense and throw the ball early and often. Then they switched to a Wing-T formation before showing a double tight-end set.
They also went 0-3 to start the season.
Swainsboro eventually settled on the Wing-T and began a three-game winning streak the week after the Washington County game before ending Region 2-AAA play with a 4-3 record.
Now, they're looking to upset the Golden Hawks.
"From a confidence standpoint, we've seen them play before," Williamson said. "The kids know Washington County. They're excited about being in the playoffs, and they're excited about playing Washington County."
A little too excited in the eyes of Washington County offensive lineman Seth Watts.
"They've been saying they got exactly what they want, and they were happy that they were playing (the Golden Hawks)," Watts said. "They don't need to be so happy. After the game, we'll see how happy they are."
Reach Josh Katzowitz at (706) 823-3216 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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