Wildcats fall to Metter in second round of state playoffs

Published 9:53 pm Monday, November 22, 2021

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From Staff Reports

METTER, GA – The Schley County Wildcats (SCHS) made the 146-mile trip out to Metter, GA hoping to topple the undefeated Metter Tigers in the second round of the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) Class A-Public State Playoffs.  Unfortunately for SCHS, they struggled early on defense to stop the Tigers’ Wing T offense and, though the SCHS offense was able to move the ball inside the MHS 20-yard line on several occasions, the Wildcats couldn’t capitalize with touchdowns and had to settle for two field goals. This proved to be costly for SCHS, as they would go on to lose to MHS 33-6 and end their season with a record of 10-2. However, this Schley County team is the first team in Schley County history to win 10 games in a season, which is a tremendous achievement.

“Metter has a very good team.  They have a very good line of scrimmage on both sides of the football.  They run the Wing-T about as good as you can, although they don’t throw it well,” SCHS Head Coach Darren Alford said.

With 7:20 to go in the first quarter, the Wildcats drew first blood when they were able to march down the field and take a 3-0 lead when Javier Lopez kicked a 28-yard field goal. However, the Tigers took a 6-3 lead when running back Danny Cheley ran 49 yards for an MHS touchdown. The extra point attempt by Fidel Esquivel failed, but MHS had the lead with 4:53 to go in the first quarter.

Then with 58 seconds left in the first quarter, MHS running back Josh Kelly scored the first of his three touchdowns on the night on a 39-yard run from scrimmage. This time, Esquivel’s extra point was good and MHS had a 13-3 lead.

On the Wildcats’ next possession, they were able to move the ball down into MHS territory, but again, they were unable to score a touchdown and had to settle for a 27-yard field goal from Lopez. Nevertheless, SCHS was still in the game, as they only trailed 13-6 at the half.

Unfortunately for SCHS, this scene played itself out out too many times, as the Wildcats were able to move the football deep into MHS territory, but couldn’t come away with touchdowns. On the defensive side of the ball, the Wildcats were able to limit the Tigers’ offensive productivity in the first half after giving up two touchdowns in the first quarter.

“We gave up some yards early, but adjusted after their two touchdowns early and stopped them on four straight series,” Alford said. “We couldn’t seem to get in the end-zone on offense. We had five chances inside the 20 and only came away with two field goals. We keep the score close at 13-6 until about 10 minutes left in the game and played hard all night. They (MHS) finally punched another score in and we keep driving the next two series, but couldn’t capitalize.”

In the fourth quarter, the Tigers finally put the game away. They got a two-yard rushing touchdown from running back Kaliq Jordan with nine minutes left and then got two more rushing touchdowns from Kelly. The first was a 50-yard scamper to the end zone with 8:25 to go and the second was a 76-yard rushing touchdown from scrimmage with 3:25 to go to cement the Tigers’ 33-6 victory.

In spite of the disappointing loss in the second round of the state playoffs, Alford was proud of his players for their performance throughout the season.

“I am very excited about how our season went,” Alford said. “We are young in a lot of places and we gained some great experience this year. This was the only team in the history of Schley County to win 10 games. That was a great achievement.”

SCHS Sophomore Quarterback Jay Kanazawa completed 14 of 26 passes for 205 yards and one interception. On the ground, the Wildcats amassed a total of 55 yards on 27 carries, with junior running back Malachi Banks leading the way with 39 yards on three carries. The SCHS offense got most of its offensive productivity from the wide receiving corps, as it amassed a total of 205 yards on 14 catches. Junior Clinton Jackson caught four passes for 94 yards and sophomore JaLewis Solomon amassed 76 yards on seven catches. Jackson also came up with an interception on the defensive side of the ball for the Wildcats.

On defense, SCHS sophomore Carson Westbrook led the Wildcats with 10 tackles and seniors Quentin Edwards and Sidney Blackwell each had a total of seven tackles on the night.

In addition to being excited and proud of the 2021 squad’s accomplishment in being the first team in Schley County history to win 10 games, Alford is also excited about what the future holds.

“We return nine starters on offense and eight on defense so next year is looking good if we can stay healthy and get better in the off season,” Alford said.

As for MHS (12-0), the Tigers will advance to the quarterfinals of the GHSA Class A-Public State Playoffs and will host Turner County on Friday, November 26, at 7:30 p.m.