In the last game of their regular season, the Columbus Blue Devils clinched the Region 1-AAAA third seed in the state playoffs Friday night with a 34-3 victory over the crosstown rival Northside Patriots at Kinnett Stadium.
Columbus improved to 6-4 overall and 5-3 in the region, behind only first-place Cairo and second-place Carver.
The result left Northside (4-6 and 3-5) without one of the nine-team region’s four playoff spots.
Making the program’s first state playoff appearance since 2015, the Blue Devils will play at Region 4 second seed Salem, 7:30 p.m. Friday, in the first round.
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“This is a goal we should have attained, but it’s still exciting for the kids,” said Columbus coach Phil Marino. “We worked hard for it, and hopefully we can go and win a few games (in the playoffs).”
Marino called the performance against Northside “a great team win” on both sides of the ball.
“Our defense has been playing extremely well (22 points allowed in the past four games), and this was the third game in a row we’ve rushed for over 200 yards and thrown for over 150,” Marino said. “Our offense occasionally shoots ourselves in the foot in the red zone, but that didn’t happen (against Northside). Only one time we stalled out.”
Leading the Blue Devils were junior Tre Peterson (22 carries, 124 yards, 1 TD), senior Donovan Carter (9-of-13 passing, 156 yards, 1 TD passing, 2 TDs rushing), senior Josh Scarbrough (interception return for TD), senior Chris Brown (forced fumble), senior Brent Epps (fumble recovery) and senior Hunter Hemmings (interception).
Hardaway 15, Westover 14
The winner of this game Saturday at Kinnett Stadium received the Region 1-AAAA fourth and final playoff spot.
Thanks to senior Zavier Clark’s 24-yard field goal midway through the fourth quarter, the Hardaway Hawks (6-4 overall, 4-4 region) earned that spot after trailing 14-12 at halftime.
This will be the program’s first playoff appearance in eight years when the Hawks play 7:30 p.m. Friday at Region 4 first seed Eastside.
“It’s unreal,” said head coach Michael Woolridge, in his third season at Hardaway. “All praise goes to God. We’re ecstatic, absolutely ecstatic. . . . The defense just held them down and made key stops.”
Westover jumped out to a 7-0 lead when they scored after running the opening kickoff to the Hardaway 13-yard line. But the Hawks remained composed and came up with a big play of their own on special teams in the first half.
After the Hawks got on the scoreboard with senior Dominique Ford’s 4 yard touchdown pass to junior Javion Toney, they scored their other touchdown when senior DeMarcus Hood recovered in the end zone Westover’s wayward snap on a punt attempt.
“It’s the resiliency of these boys and coaches and administration and teachers and parents and the student body,” Woolridge said. “It’s great when you have the whole school rooting for you.”
Westover fell to 5-5 and 4-4.
Spencer 35, Jordan 8
The Spencer Greenwaves (3-7 overall, 3-2 Region 5-AA) clinched the region’s final playoff spot Thursday at Kinnett Stadium as they gave their new coach a win over his former team.
This is the fourth straight year the Greenwaves have reached the playoffs. Head coach Justin Newman is in his first year at Spencer, replacing Pierre Coffey, who became assistant principal at Baker Middle School.
Newman, who was fired after going 2-18 in two seasons at Jordan, said he is relieved to keep Spencer’s playoff streak going.
“The kids have worked hard,” he said. “We just didn’t have the ball bounce our way when we lost three games in a row in the last minute. But the kids battled back and showed resilience.”
Newman acknowledged beating Jordan was especially sweet, even for his players.
“They wanted to do a little extra for me,” he said.
As the Region 5-AA fourth seed, Spencer will play 7:30 p.m. Friday at Region 8 champion Rabun County in the first round of the state playoffs.
The Greenwaves gained 466 total yards against Jordan, including 410 rushing.
Spencer senior Karlton Williams contributed in multiple ways, having a hand in three touchdowns. Both of his completions out of four attempts went for touchdowns, one to junior Malachi Morris, the other to freshman James Smyre. Williams also rushed for one touchdown and 78 yards on 12 carries, and he caught one pass for 4 yards.
Among the running backs, senior Tre Lee led Spencer with 190 yards and one touchdown on 21 carries, junior Corey Scruggs rushed for 101 yards on 10 carries, and senior Kevonta Fanning scored on his only carry.
On defense, Smyre had two sacks, junior Terrell Gordon one interception, freshman Regis Bellamy one sack, senior Raekwon Jackson six tackles and three passes defended, and freshman Artellious Edmond had one fumble recovery and two passes defended.
Carver 40, Americus-Sumter 19
Playing their second game this week, the visiting Carver Tigers didn’t look tired as they tuned up for the state playoffs in style.
The Tigers ( 9-1 overall and 7-1 in Region 1-AAAA) already had clinched the region’s second seed with Monday’s win over Westover. That was a makeup game after it was postponed due to Hurricane Michael.
Tied 12-12 at halftime, Carver outscored Americus 28-7 in the second half.
Carver will play its first-round game in the state playoffs at home against Region 4 third seed Woodward Academy, 7:30 p.m. Friday in Kinnett Stadium.
LaGrange 16, Shaw 14
In this non-region game, the visiting Shaw Raiders lost their season finale.
Shaw, which already was out of playoff contention with a 2-6 record in Region 1-AAAA, finished the year 3-7 overall.
LaGrange, also out of the state playoffs with an 0-6 record in Region 5-AAAA, finished their year 2-8 overall.
The Raiders led 14-3 in the third quarter, thanks to sophomore Amir Harper’s 3-yard touchdown pass to senior Nigel Roulhac and sophomore Javonte McGill’s 65-yard scoop-and-score, but the Grangers prevailed with two straight touchdowns: a 44-yard catch-and-run and a touchdown pass set up by a Shaw fumble.
Pike County 38, Kendrick 0
The visiting Kendrick Cherokees finished their season 1-9 overall and 1-5 in Region 4-AAA. Pike County (7-3, 3-3) clinched the seven-team region’s fourth and final playoff spot.
Dooly County 63, Brookstone 36
Despite the thumping in this 100-point regular-season finale at home, and despite losing its two Region 4-A crossover games, the Brookstone Cougars (6-4, 4-1 Division A) still should be one of the 24 teams in the Class A private-school playoffs.
Their seeding and first-round matchup will be determined by the GHSA Power Ratings, which had Brookstone at No. 21 as of noon Saturday. Dooly County (6-4, 3-2 Division B), was ranked No. 14 in the Class A public-school ratings. The GHSA is expected to decide the playoff teams Tuesday.
Taylor County 42, Pacelli 7
In this Region 4-A crossover game, the host Pacelli Vikings fell to 4-6 overall (2-3 Division A) as the Taylor County Vikings improved to 5-5 (3-2 Division B).
At No. 32 out of 37 schools in the Class A private-school GHSA Power Ratings as of noon Saturday, Pacelli looks like it won’t be among the 24 teams to qualify for the state playoffs. Taylor County, at No. 22, has a good chance to get in the public-school bracket with this win.
Chattahoochee County 50, Stewart County 22
The visiting Chattahoochee County Panthers (7-3 overall, 7-2 Region 1-A) further solidified a spot in the 24-team Class A public-school state playoffs.
ChattCo was ranked No. 12 in the Class A public-school GHSA Power Ratings as of noon Saturday. Stewart County (2-8, 1-8) was No. 45 out of 51 schools.
Marion County 21, Schley County 6
In a crossover game for the Region 4-A championship, the host Marion County Eagles (10-0) finished their regular season undefeated and earned a bye in the first round of the Class A public-school state playoffs.
Marion already had beaten Schley (8-2) on the road, 28-7, in the season opener.
Travon Mathews led the Eagles with 141 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 23 carries. Trice McCannon passed for 104 yards on 7-of-15 passing with one touchdown and one interception. Josh Rodgers caught McCannon’s 5-yard touchdown pass. Phillip Dixon was the leading tackler with 13 total. Kendrick Hawkins added 10 tackles. DeChristian Hollis grabbed one interception.
Calvary Christian 14, Flint River 7
The host Calvary Christian Knights (6-5) tuned up for the GICAA playoffs by overcoming a 7-6 deficit with eight points in the fourth quarter.
They will play on the road against Community Christian School 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Russell County 33, Booker T. Washington 14
The visiting Russell County Warriors (2-8) ended their rough season on a winning note in this non-region game. Booker T. Washington dropped to 1-10.
Smiths Station 35, Eufaula 34
In this tight non-region game, the Smiths Station Panthers emerged with a road victory in their season finale.
The Panthers finished with a winning record (6-4) but out of the playoffs in Class 7A, while Eufaula fell back to .500 (5-5) but will play in the Class 6A first round at Hueytown.
Glenwood 50, Pike Liberal Arts 7
In the first round of the AISA Class AAA playoffs, the visiting Glenwood Gators showed they are title contenders with this upset.
The Gators led 41-0 at halftime.
Glenwood, the Region 1 third seed, improved to 5-6 after starting the season 1-5. Pike, the Region 2 second seed, finished the year 11-2.
The Gators will play their second-round game Nov. 9 at Bessemer Academy, the Region 1 first seed, which beat Northside Methodist Academy 41-14.
Mark Rice, 706-576-6272, @MarkRiceLE.