I’ve had the opportunity to cover Carver’s games on a number of occasions this season, and it’s just worked out that they have been spread out from the very first game of the season to this past week’s game against Peach County.
There were moments early on where I just wasn’t sure if the Tigers were going to be able to do enough to contend at the highest level this season. They made too many mistakes to be seriously considered among the state’s best.
But something happened when Carver started region play.
Things started to come together. The defense improved, and the offense took advantage of the opportunities the defense provided.
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Suddenly, the team was back to itself again.
That all came to a head last Friday when the Tigers put on a second-half defensive clinic against the top-ranked team in Class AAA, Peach County. The Trojans tried and tried again to run the ball against Carver, but each time they did, a brick wall of Carver defenders stood tall at the line of scrimmage.
Carver pressured the Trojans quarterback, sacking him and forcing him into a fumble and two interceptions. Ultimately, the Tigers allowed zero second-half points.
It was the culmination of the growth that we’ve witnessed over the past month. Now we know that Carver can, indeed, compete on the state level come playoff time.
The important thing, now, is for the team to remember that the win against Peach County was only for a region championship, not state. Coach Dell McGee understands that, of course. He said so after the game, when he indicated he was happy about the region title, but that it was simply the first of a long line of goals for the team.
Carver still obviously has a long way to go to achieve its goals this season. But with its win over Peach County, and the manner in which it won, we have to seriously start considering this as one on a short list of title contenders in Class AAA.
Playoff berths and seeding on the line this week
There are still a handful of teams angling for playoff spots in the final week of the regular season.
Shaw, which stayed alive with a 34-23 win over Fayette County on Saturday, plays Troup this week with a chance to clinch a playoff berth. It is playing for the No. 4 seed in Region 5-AAAA, despite the fact that it could end up with the same region record as LaGrange (LaGrange beat Shaw earlier this season).
Kendrick and Spencer play this week. A win for Kendrick would give it its first playoff berth since 1999. A win by Spencer would create a three-way tie between itself, Kendrick and Bremen for the final playoff spot.
Harris County has clinched home-field in the first round of the Class AAAAA playoffs, but could win a region championship with a win over Thomas County Central.
Brookstone has the inside track to a region championship, as it owns a three-way tie with Dooly County and Marion County. If the latter loses, however, Dooly County owns the head-to-head tiebreaker with Brookstone.
Glenwood fell short in its first-round playoff game against Fort Dale, just a season after playing for an AISA state championship.Calvary Christian won its first-ever playoff game with a 41-13 blowout against Covenant. It has won five consecutive games after forfeiting two games earlier this season. The Knights face undefeated Loganville Christian in the semifinals this week.Harris County’s comeback against Hardaway didn’t mean a lot in the standings, as its game against Thomas County Central on Friday would have been for the region championship either way. But the team is not underestimating how important it was to go into that game on a high note. Coach Tommy Parks noted how impressed he was that his team has made it to this point after struggling to an 0-4 start this season.Central’s regular-season finale against Stanhope Elmore, a 35-23 loss, didn’t mean anything in the standings, but, like Harris County, it would have liked to go into the playoffs on a high note. Central travels to Spain Park High in Hoover, Ala., on Friday.Former Carver quarterback Devin Burns, now with the University of Maryland, had his season come to an end last week when it was announced he had suffered a Lisfranc fracture. Burns played in three games this season for the Terrapins.
Making the grade
Some notable performances from teams and individuals this week.
--The Carver defense and offensive line The Tigers definitely won the battle up front on both sides of the ball, limiting Peach County’s running game and opening big holes for its own backs on the other side of the ball. Defensively, Gerald Williams, Brandon Watt, Talik Quarterman and Mekhi Brown, among others, starred in a strong effort.
--Chandler Whittlesey, Shaw: He’s become a regular in this section of the weekly wrap. This week, he tossed three touchdowns in the first half to help lead Shaw to a big win that kept it alive in the playoff race.
--Esaias Chapman, Harris County: After a big game last week, Chapman produced again for the Tigers, rushing 33 times for 254 yards and three touchdowns in a come-from-behind win against Hardaway.
--Duncan Newton, Calvary Christian: Newton had 19 carries for 155 yards and two touchdowns rushing and added 136 yards and two scores through the air to help the Knights to the first playoff win in school history.
--Duncan Fletcher, Brookstone: Passed for three touchdowns and ran for another in an impressive first quarter of action against Central-Talbotton.
Think someone else belongs on this exclusive list? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @leprepsports.
Here's a look at the area's power rankings. I'll list my top 5 each week. Spirited, but civil, debate is encouraged in the comments.
It’s all Carver in the Bi-City area right now. After its win against Peach County, this team is the class of the area.
The Cougars are hitting their stride as the season is coming to a close. Good timing. It has the inside track at a region championship, which is the only sure way to make the Class A-Private playoffs under the new public-private split regulations.
Alright, let’s not go too far off the ledge with this one. Central would have liked to win this game and stride into the playoffs on a high note, but we need to remember how across the map the team has been at times. A weaker performance last week doesn’t change the fact that the Red Devils could very easily pull the upset in the first round this week.
Shaw is a single win away from a playoff berth, a place many believed it would be this season. Things haven’t always gone great for the Raiders, but it is a good team with a lot of upside.
5. Harris County
Do we think the Tigers can take down Thomas County Central on Friday? I don’t know. It’s a tough game. But there is no denying how far this team has come this season.
Follow me for scores, news and opinions on Twitter @leprepsports