ROCHELLE -- Calhoun County coach John Williams summed up what happened to his team pretty succinctly Friday night.
"Let's just say I see now why they're one of the best -- if not the best -- teams in the state," Williams said after the Cougars' 38-6 loss to Wilcox County, which led, 32-0, at the half and let off the gas in a game that could've easily gotten out of hand quickly after intermission.
Calhoun (4-7) got its only TD of the game on a special teams score after Marquil Middleton recovered a botched punt that went over the Wilcox kicker's head.
"They're a great, great football team," Williams said of Wilcox. "They score quick, they're fast and they're big. But I'm glad we played a team like this in the first round because it gave my kids a chance to see the level we need to get to if we want to (make a run at a state title)."
That could very well happen next year as whispers around Southwest Georgia from opposing coaches have the Cougars -- who have one of the most talented young crop of JV players and middle-schoolers ready to make the jump -- being the team in beat in Region 1-A next season.
"Hopefully these young kids will come along like we think they will and work hard," Williams said. "If they do, we'll come back next year and do this a little better."
Calhoun loses just three seniors on offense and three on defense.
WARE COUNTY 21, BAINBRIDGE 14: After one of the best seasons in school history, it’s one-and-done for the Bainbridge Bearctas.
The Herald’s No. 2 team, which went 8-2 in the regular season with losses to only state powers Warner Robins and Northside, Warner Robins, couldn’t come up with the win Friday night and lost, 21-14, to Ware County to end its season at 8-3.
“We just couldn’t punch it in when it mattered,” said Bainbridge coach Ed Pilcher, who didn’t feel like the season was any type of failure considering what the Bearcats had to overcome this year when starting QB Steven Bench left the program for rival Cairo after spring practice. “We overcame some adversity and I’m proud of these kids. We just came up a little short.”
Damian Bouie, who scored both of the Bearcats’ TDs, put Bainbridge ahead, 14-6, after halftime, but Ware quickly tied it and scored again to take a lead it wouldn’t give back. Ware was actually about to make it 28-14 with less than two minutes left and fumbled as Rodney Glenn picked it up and appeared to be headed to the house to tie it, before stumbling. Bainbridge never threatened again.
Bainbridge loses 10 seniors, six of them starters.
CHARLTON COUNTY 38, MILLER COUNTY 14: The Pirates (4-7) never could get going after the first quarter Friday night when they took a 6-0 lead on a 30-yard Marvin Grant run.
But it was all Charlton County from there, ending Miller's season after a turnover-laced performance that saw the Pirates throw three interceptions and cough up two fumbles -- one of which was returned for a TD.
"You hate that it ends like this for the seniors, but we just have to go back and build on this for next year," Miller coach Frank Killingsworth said.
Herald Dynamite Dozen selection T.T. Barber, a senior, scored Miller's other TD late in the game on an 18-yard run, then found Alvin Hooker for the 2-point converstion.
But it was too late by then.
"We're sure going to miss T.T., but he's got another chance (to impress scouts) in the GACA All-Star game," the coach said.
Miller loses seven senior starters.
TERRELL ACADEMY 35, BRIARWOOD 6: Coming in to Friday's GISA Class A first-round state playoff game, much of Briarwood's focus was on Terrell Academy star running back Josh Wardrip.
Apparently, someone forgot to tell that to Gray Rowe.
Rowe, who is usually the Eagles' second option behind Wardrip, had a monster game in the Eagles' 35-6 win, scoring twice to put TAE into the Final Four for the fourth straight season.
"Gray really ran the ball well (Friday night)," TAE coach Bill Murdock said. "When he scored that first one (from 55 yards out with 11 seconds left in the first quarter), it really gave us all the momentum we would need."
Rowe would add another score in the third quarter from 2 yards out to put TAE ahead, 28-0 after taking a 21-0 halftime lead -- and that would be all the cushion the Eagles would need.
"I'm just proud of these kids, especially these seniors who have now made four straight Final Fours," Murdock said. "They won it as freshmen and sophomores and then Westwood won it last year, so our region has been strong."
Chris Rogers found Blake Grimsley for the second score of the game on a 24-yard pass play, and Wardrip tacked on a 30-yard running score before the half. Rogers then tossed his second TD of the game in the second half, this time to Tyler Marshall from 53 yards out. Grimsley was 4-for-4 on PATs, while Alex Marsh added the fifth.
TAE advances to play Memorial Day next week in Savannah.
PEACH COUNTY 36, WORTH COUNTY 7: Peach County's Bryan McQuay was merely doing what he always does: Surge off the line of scrimmage at the snap and start sniffing out the quarterback.
And in the first quarter of Friday night's GHSA Class AAA playoff opener, the Trojans defensive lineman found what he was looking for.
He savagely sacked Worth County quarterback Savon Farley and jarred the ball loose. For a moment, the ball disappeared before squirting free from the pile and into the waiting hands of Lamont Wray, who raced 37 yards to the end zone for a touchdown.
The Trojans' defense added five more turnovers en route to a 36-7 victory over the Rams at Anderson Stadium.
"We stressed the need for turnovers all week," Peach county head coach Chad Campbell said.
Worth County's lone points came when Peach County backup quarterback LaQualo Ezell fumbled a snap with less than a minute remaining. Wesley Douthit picked it up and ran it back to the Trojans' 6-yard line. Ellis Anderson scored on a 5-yard touchdown run with 11 seconds remaining in the game.