When it comes to sports coverage, pressing comments from coaches who would rather not share any comes with the territory.
Sometimes, it’s a bad loss. Sometimes, they aren’t pleased with the team’s effort. Whatever the case, it would be crazy to expect them to be ready and willing to talk to you on every occasion.
But Friday was perhaps the first time I actually dreaded tracking down a coach.
I knew following Central’s heartbreaking 18-17 loss to region rival Auburn High, a loss which came to pass on an Auburn touchdown with just seven seconds left in the game, that Red Devils coach Woodrow Lowe would not be eager to speak.
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Sure enough, when I tracked him down, he had just two sentences for me.
“David, I don’t really have anything to say after that. We lost because of a lack of discipline.”
And I completely understand.
As a reporter, you never take sides in a contest, but you couldn’t help but feel a stab of sympathy for a Red Devils team that had laid it all out on the field for nearly four quarters, only to have victory snatched away from them in the waning moments of the game.
The loss had numerous region and playoff implications.
In one quick moment, Central fell from perhaps the No. 1 seed in Region 3-6A to fighting for the region’s fourth and final playoff berth.
And while the playoffs still appear to be a probability, the road to a state championship becomes that much more difficult.
We can, by no means, write off Central in the region or the playoffs yet. There’s a lot of football to be played, and the Red Devils are an extremely talented football team. But the future has, without a doubt, become cloudier.
Still, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the superb effort Central put forth on Friday. It hung with one of the best teams in the state, and quarterback Jamal Howard came to life with arguably his best play of the season in the second half. The defense stood tall in most crucial moments, and only a pass interference call on a fourth-down play gave Auburn its chance at the go-ahead touchdown.
As most coaches will tell you when they do lose games of this nature, there are no moral victories. Central has to simply press forward and keep the eye on the prize.
Brookstone coming into its own
Early in the season, coach Brad Dehem said it was taking some time for his players to grasp the new system and put it into practice on the field.
It appears the practice is beginning to pay off.
For the second consecutive week, Brookstone (4-2, 2-1) put forth a strong offensive effort to run away from a region opponent.
After defeating Pacelli 41-14 last week, the Cougars topped Hawkinsville 35-21 last Friday. In the game, tailback Madison McCluskey rushed for 266 yards and four touchdowns.
It’s a sign that, perhaps, the Cougars are becoming a more well-rounded football team in time for the meat of the region schedule.
Brookstone faces winless Schley County this week before a crucial matchup with Marion County, which is undefeated in Region 4-A.
We’ll get a clear idea of where it stands after the latter game.
It will go unnoticed when you look at the final score, but Shaw’s 51-26 loss to Class 4A top-ranked Sandy Creek should not be considered a blowout by any means. Shaw, at one point early in the fourth quarter, trailed just 31-26 before the Patriots put the game away. As I said before, there are no moral victories, but that was a solid performance against a very tough opponent.Noteworthy in that game was another strong performance for Raiders quarterback Chandler Whittlesey, who finished with over 200 yards passing, over 100 yards rushing and accounted for four touchdowns.Carver showed that it has continued to improve with a 47-0 victory over Henry County. Yes, Henry County has won only one game this year, but the shutout and the 47 points (tied for Carver’s highest total this season) indicate a team quietly on the rise. Carver has a chance to get its all-time winning percentage to .500 with a win over Southwest-Macon on Friday. Two weeks later, on Oct. 2, it will face Class AAA top-ranked Peach County.
Making the grade
Some notable performances from teams and individuals this week.
-- Madison McCluskey, Brookstone: As mentioned before, McCluskey had 266 yards and four touchdowns on 29 carries in a 35-21 win over Hawkinsville.
--Javaris Jones, Chattahoochee County Jones had three carries for 85 yards and a touchdown on the ground, 58 yards and a touchdown passing, and intercepted two passing, including one returned for a touchdown.
--Jamal Howard, Deon Hall and Traveon Samuel, Central In the loss, Howard completed 9 of 16 passes for 274 yards and two touchdowns, Hall had three receptions for 98 yards and a touchdown and 40 yards rushing, and Samuel had four receptions for 118 yards.
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.
We have a new No. 1 this week as Carver passes Central. Since a 33-0 loss to Colquitt County, the Tigers are 3-0 and have outscored opponents 117-23. Decent.
Central can’t drop lower than No. 2 because of a last-second, one-point loss to a great team. It’s still one of the best teams in its region.
Brookstone is back on the winning track, and it has an offense that is performing at a very high level right now. If it can maintain the progress week to week, this should be a dangerous team come playoff time.
Yes, it lost on Friday, but Glenwood is still one of the better teams in the Bi-City area. It has had a couple of head scratchers this season after appearing to put things together, but the fact is that it’s a very good football team.
5. Smiths Station
Another team that lost, but it played strong defensively against a superior opponent. Smiths Station has a tough road to the playoffs with games against Carver-Montgomery and Central coming up in the next two weeks, but the team is strong.
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Also, don't forget to join in the high school football pre-game chat every Friday at 3:30 p.m. on the Valley Preps Blog.