It had to be seen to be believed. The game film of South Aiken's 12-0 win last season was sought out.
"We worked so hard that week in practice," South Aiken senior defensive end Dekoda Watson said on August 17. "Our guys on defense came out focused and determined to stop that team."
They did. The Thoroughbreds were the only team to hold Strom Thurmond under 10 points all season, much less shut them out. The teams, both unbeaten, will meet this week at 7:30 p.m. at South Aiken in the game of the week.
What the Thoroughbreds did was a classic example of bend-but-don't-break football. Strom Thurmond moved the ball between the 30-yard lines. They had almost 400 yards of total offense, but the red zones proved to be dead zones for every Strom Thurmond drive.
Rebels quarterback Coco Hillary threw two interceptions in the first quarter. One came at the 15-yard line. The other was on the 25. The final drive of the first quarter ended with a fumble at the South Aiken 3.
Hillary threw another interception at the 6-yard line in the second quarter. The team's final first-half drive was halted five yards shy of a score as time expired.
The Rebels fumbled on their own 30 and turned the ball over on downs inside the South Aiken 20-yard line in the second half.
So the chances were there.
"That South Aiken defense is a tough defense," Hillary said Monday. "But we really hurt ourselves last year with turnovers. One of the key things was they were good and then we helped them out to stop ourselves."
Hillary was in his infancy in the high-powered Strom Thurmond offense. Plus, he was constantly harassed by defenders and forced into three intentional grounding penalties in the first half.
"I'm going to use all that for motivation to play the best I can," Hillary said. "I've sharpened the mental aspects of my game since then in terms of making the right decision with the ball. Other than that, I'm not trying to reflect on last year too much. Last year is last year. This is a whole new year, a whole new page and a whole new level for our football team."
STRONG GAME: Wagener-Salley senior linebacker Seth Garvin stood out despite a 21-0 loss to Pelion last week.
Garvin had 18 total tackles, two sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception for the War Eagles.
RIVALRY WEEK: Greenbrier travels to Evans this week with area pride on the line.
The Wolfpack are 1-2. The Knights are 0-3.
"Anytime any two of Evans, Lakeside and Greenbrier get together just go ahead and throw out all (of) everybody's stats and records," Greenbrier coach Mickey Derrick said. "They just don't matter."
Evans has scored only 20 points, but the team has been in every game this year.
"I'm telling our kids to forget about the record and look who Evans has played," Derrick said. "They've lost to Jefferson County who is 4-0. They've lost to Laney who is 3-1 and they've lost to a real good Harlem team that's 2-2. Evans might be the best 0-3 team in the state of Georgia. They're 0-3 with a lot of good players."
Harlem's win over the Knights prevents a true county champion this year. Neither Greenbrier or Lakeside will play Harlem.
"The best scenario would be for all four of us to play another," Derrick said. "But Evans picked them up. We wanted to try to play them next year but we can't do it with our region schedule."
DID YOU SEE? Robert Dunn joined Georgia's C.J. Byrd and Marcus Washington on the college fields playing as freshmen Saturday.
Dunn, now at Auburn, caught a 23-yard pass and returned a punt for 12 yards. He's expected to audition for the starting punt returner role in the next two weeks.
Byrd, a North Augusta product, starts on the Bulldogs' kickoff return teams. Washington, from Burke County, is a reserve linebacker in Athens.
Both logged extensive time against Boise State in the season opener. Washington had three total tackles against the Broncos. Byrd had a solo tackle at safety.
Another familiar face is Laney alum J.K. Sabb. Sabb starts at linebacker for Middle Tennessee State. Sabb leads the Blue Raiders in both his 14 total tackles and his six tackles for losses.
Reach Jeff Sentell at (706) 823-3425 or email@example.com.
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