One game doesn't make an entire season, right?
After watching Carver's performance in a 26-17 win over Peach County last Friday, my gut is screaming "state title contender," and that's what I'm going with.
Listen, it's not just about the win, though that was impressive. The Tigers beat the consensus No. 1 team in Class AAA on the road in a stadium Peach County had not lost at in a long time.
But, what impressed me more was the manner in which Carver won the game.
It took some shots early and trailed by 10 points with less than a minute to go before the half. On the road against the top team in the state, being down by double-digits going into the half is essentially a death sentence.
But Carver responded. It scored going into and coming out of the break.
After that, it relied on its defense. It pressured the quarterback to the tune of three sacks, including one that resulted in a fumble recovery for a Tigers touchdown. It recorded two interceptions and it swarmed to the football.
Rarely, did it have a single player trying to make a tackle on the Peach County ball carrier. Instead, two, three and, sometimes, four Tigers were in on tackles on nearly every play.
Carver coach Dell McGee went into the game with a plan: Don't spend too much time focusing on star wide receiver Damarcus Robinson. Instead, limit the run and win the game up front.
The team played with intensity and emotion, and executed the game plan better than it has at any point this season. The score said it was a nine-point win for Carver, but the eye test showed differently. Carver appeared to be a superior football team.
Am I saying that Carver should be favored to win it all in Class AAA? Not at all.
There are plenty of great teams across the state. Thomson, which took over No. 1 in the Associated Press poll this week, is undefeated and has a resume that includes wins over Burke County, St. Pius X, LaGrange and Washington County. Buford, which defeated Carver in the Class AA semifinals last year, has played in five consecutive state title games and is strong once again. And casting Peach County aside, despite the loss, would be silly.
What I am saying is that Carver, which once appeared to be far behind the teams at the head of the pack, is suddenly one of the frontrunners. Associated Press voters agreed, elevating the Tigers to No. 2 in this week's poll.
How the team handles the new target on its back going forward will play a part in determining the conclusion to its 2012 story. But I'm going with my gut, and my gut says Carver has a lot of football left this season.
David Mitchell, 706-571-8571. Follow David on Twitter@leprepsports.