ATLANTA - The biggest win of the season is over. It only sets up the biggest game in the history of a 67-game series.
Lincoln County at Washington-Wilkes for the Class A state championship. The understatement of the season is that the game will be of some interest to the region.
"Lincoln County meeting Washington-Wilkes for the state championship would be the end all," Lincoln County junior Ricardo Norman said Friday. "I don't think there has ever been a state championship like what that game for the state championship would be. It would be insane."
The Tigers hold the all-time lead in the rivalry, 31-30-6. The schools have never met in the state playoffs before.
It's not like the pressure cooker of a state championship game needed any more flair, but that probably triples the fervor.
Lincoln County won 20-13 when the schools met earlier this year in a game many Tigers feel they handed to the Red Devils.
"It won't take a big vocabulary to describe that one," Washington-Wilkes senior Casey Nickles said. "I think the word for all of us would be revenge. We all think we didn't do things the way we wanted to that first game. We'll play with reckless abandon and keep going until that last whistle, and I think things will be just fine for us afterward."
Tigers defensive lineman Markeith Wylie has already put a poetic touch to it. "We're going to go play for the state against the team we hate," Wylie said.
GREAT CALL: The Tigers' play call was Waggle right, Screen left. Washington-Wilkes had ran it only one time this year before, against Lincoln County with no success.
It busted open Saturday's Class A semifinal for Washington-Wilkes. Tigers sophomore Jareon Small had never ran that play before in a game situation, then broke it for a 45-yard touchdown catch.
"We had a linebacker stunt going and we didn't have anyone in the house to stop that," Bowdon coach Dwight Hochstetler said. "It was a bad call for us against their calls. Or vice versa, great call for them against what we called."
MISSING MEN: Hochstetler couldn't fathom the Tigers with their missing seven starters.
"Usually you can tell when a team has lost seven starters from the beginning of the year," he said. "You see holes. We couldn't find any with them. Washington-Wilkes played a great game. It was a game I bet somebody would have liked to sit up in the stands and just watch.
"I felt like the whole game was just like two bulls just running right slap into one another and going back and forth."
HE SAID IT: Washington-Wilkes coach Russell Morgan processed the amount of film and game-planning leading up to next time his team would face Lincoln County.
"I'd say I probably won't get any sleep getting ready for that one this week," Morgan said.
"I already expect I won't get a wink of sleep until next Friday night."