Jefferson County coach J.B. Arnold is as much a civic leader as a football coach. When his team wins, it's not about how his team had better blockers and tacklers.
He always stresses a thought about how he hopes football brings together his community.
The Warriors' 27-20 win against Westside meant the second consecutive region title for his program. That's a first for the school.
But that high point in team history played out in front of a half-full home grandstand, if that.
The fans of Butler, Cross Creek, Evans, Greenbrier, Heph-zibah, Lakeside and Richmond Academy would be mighty pleased to cheer on a team like the Warriors.
The spectre of a private school clash between Flint River and Thomas Jefferson also going on in Louisville, Ga., was an excuse a few Warriors' supporters used for the less-than-capacity crowd to see a team going for a region title.
Arnold just stressed the positives, though.
"What a great win tonight for Jefferson County," he said. "This community needs to see success like this from this team. This feels good. That's all I will say. I'm just overjoyed for Jefferson County."
TOUGH: Is there any doubt Westside (7-3) is the best area team to not make the postseason?
Region 3-AA's makeup this year had to be one of the state's best. No. 3 seed Laney was the only team to beat top seed Jeff-erson County. The Patriots finished in fifth place but beat the Wildcats.
They could've beaten No. 2 seed Swainsboro if not for a late blocked field goal. The Tigers (9-1) snatched the win in overtime.
"Every game we've played has been a battle," Westside coach Gerald Barnes said. "A lot of games could have went either way. They just didn't go our way."
SHOCKERS: This week could've been termed Fallout Friday for area South Carolina teams. Aiken, Silver Bluff and Strom Thurmond were all eliminated.
Each favorite was beaten at home. It leaves only Allendale Fairfax (10-2), Blackville-Hilda (11-1) and Ridge Spring-Monetta (10-2) as the lone area teams alive in the South Carolina High School League's postseason tournament.
SWATTED: Aiken's season seemed so promising after toppling nationally-ranked Camden County (Ga.) in the fourth week. The Hornets soon showed chinks in their armor when Irmo ran all over them in a 30-21 road defeat.
Aiken could not contain West-side's run game in a 28-21 first-round loss. The Rams gained 176 of their 212 rushing yards in the second half.
"They dominated the line of scrimmage," Aiken coach Carey Johnson said. "When you control the line of scrimmage you win the football game."
The Hornets (10-2) wrapped up a great year with a bitter ending.
"I'm proud of the young men and the coaches for what we've done this season," Johnson said. "I feel for the seniors who fell short of their goal. They have nothing to hang their heads over."
RISING PLAYER: Laney's Cam-eron Stallings is already one of the best sophomores in the area.
He might be one of the best defenders. Period. The defensive back made two big interceptions in a 15-14 win over Josey.
PRAISE: Josey's season is over. Senior quarterback Danny Daggett has played his last game.
It's a shame since he may be the most exciting player in our area.
"That Daggett is something else," Jefferson County coach J.B. Arnold said. "You give me him on my offense and we'd be undefeated. ... That kid has got the quicks, the moves and the flat-out speed. He's tough to contain. Ask any coach in this region. He's worried everybody who's played him."
TITLE SHOT: It was a good week for Augusta Christian wide receiver Josh Whitaker. Two days after he signed a college grant to play baseball at Kennesaw State, his team won a SCISA state semifinal game to advance to the state championship round.
Whitaker made one catch in the 21-14 win, but his lone snag at tight end became a 51-yard score that provided the difference.
"I guess it was a blown coverage," he said. "I lined up and there was no one in front of me. I heard their coach screaming at the safety. But it was too late. I could have run for days."
Staff writers Billy Byler and Chris Gay contributed to this story.
Reach Jeff Sentell at (706) 823-3425 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The top individual performances amongst reported totals from around the area.
Player, school Att. Yds. Avg. TDs
Barry St. John, Harlem 22 139 6.3 0
Player, school Com. Att. Yds. TDs Int.
Emory Wilson, Cross Creek 16 32 257 2 3
Player, school No. Yds. Avg. TDs
Terrance Jones, Cross Creek 4 95 23.8 0
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