ELCA all that stands in Seminole County’s way of first Final Four

If ELCA hasn’t heard about Seminole County RB Chris Brown, they will have after tonight. (john.millikan@albanyherald.com)

If ELCA hasn’t heard about Seminole County RB Chris Brown, they will have after tonight. (john.millikan@albanyherald.com)

DONALSONVILLE — Seminole County coach Alan Ingram was talking to his grandson, Josh, the other day about the Indians’ state quarterfinal game against Eagles Landing Christian Academy tonight.

“Paw Paw, how good is this team you’re playing?” Josh asked.

“They say they’ve got the best running back in Georgia,’’ Ingram replied.

His grandson smiled.

“Well,’’ Josh began, “They haven’t seen Chris Brown.’’

Ingram could only laugh.

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WHO: Seminole County (11-1) at Eagles Landing Christian Academy (11-1).

WHAT: GHSA Class A state football playoffs, Elite 8.

WHEN: 7:30 p.m today.

WHERE: McDonough.

LIVE UPDATES: Go online and log onto twitter.com/AlbHeraldSports.

Brown has made a lot of people in this part of the state smile. As Ingram likes to say, “He’s just electrifying.’’

And Brown is plugged in for tonight.

“I’m ready,’’ said Brown, who is coming off a career-high 284-yard, three-touchdown night that helped Seminole rip Wilkinson County, 28-7, in the second round of the playoffs last week.

This game could be a classic. If you like state rankings, ELCA is No. 4 and Seminole County is No. 5. Both teams feel they should be ranked higher, and this might just turn out to be the unofficial state title game.

Both teams carry an 11-game winning streak into the game. ELCA (11-1) is making it second straight trip to the Class A state quarterfinals, where the Chargers lost a year ago by seven points to eventual state champion Clinch County. Seminole (11-1) is making its first appearance in the quarterfinals with a team everyone in Donalsonville is calling the best in the school’s history.

As if this game needed any more sugar on top, two of the sweetest running backs in the state will be going head-to-head in a recruiter’s dream when two of Georgia’s best take the field tonight at Commitment Field in McDonough.

Just about every high school football fan in Georgia knows about ELCA’s Keyante Green, a junior who has already received a long list of offers, including Georgia and Michigan.

But after tonight, everyone in the state should know about Brown.

He has rushed for 1,648 yards this season on just 132 carries — that’s 12.48 yards every time he touches the ball. He’s run for 29 TDs, and scored two more on receptions, and even though Seminole County doesn’t throw much, Brown has caught eight passes for 248 yards (31 yards per catch).

Green has impressive numbers, too. He gained more than 1,000 yards in each of his last two seasons, and even though he missed four games with a groin injury, Green has gained 846 yards on 97 carries. ELCA’s other running back, John Tatum, has gained 1,460 yards on a 135 carries, and scored five touchdowns last week in ELCA’s 54-0 rout against Greenville.

Many tout Green as the top running back in Georgia, but none of that seems to faze Seminole.

“We’ve seen him (on film),’’ said Barren Rambo, who plays fullback and linebacker for Seminole. “He’s a good running back, but he’s no Chris Brown. Chris is amazing, and he’s a team player. He will do whatever it takes for the team to win.’’

It’s a showcase for both Brown and Green tonight.

“I don’t know too much about the other guy, but I’ll take Chris,’’ Ingram said. “People (who have never seen Brown play before) are going to see a kid with all the heart in the world. They will see a kid who, if he needs to, will put the team on his shoulders and do whatever it takes to win. He’s a battler. This whole team is made up of battlers. You want to be in a fox hole with this group, and I’m not talking about their football talent. I’m talking about their character.’’

Brown said there’s no extra pressure because of the added spotlight and the hype building about the two running backs facing each other.

“All I can say is when the game gets here we’ll see who is better,’’ Brown said. “It’s not going to be an easy game. It’s going to be a tough game, but I don’t feel any pressure on me. I just feel like I have to do my job, just like all the seniors. We all have to step up.

“I’m ready to see what they’ve got for us. Everybody thinks they are going to run all over us. They have good athletes, but I think we have the best athletes in Georgia. I don’t think anybody can run all over us.’’

Ingram isn’t real happy with an Internet site that listed his team as an 18-point underdog against ELCA, and chocked it up to the fact no one knows much about football in this part of the state.

“That group up there in the Atlanta area, they don’t know a dang thing about sports in South Georgia,’’ Ingram said. “We’ve got speed in South Georgia. We see speed all the time. We’re going to go up there to win the ball game, and if we play well and the ball bounces right, we’ll be right in the hunt. They’re mighty good, but we are too.

“I believe in our defense. I believe in our offense, and our special teams. I believe in my kids. If we go up there and beat them, we’ll see what that 18 points looks like.’’

Ingram believes it will be a dogfight.

“It’s going to be like LSU and Alabama,’’ he said. “It will come down to a missed point, or missed tackle, or a fumble or something simple like that.’’

ELCA won a coin flip Saturday to get the home field advantage tonight, and the winner will be at home next week in the state semifinals against the winner of the Landmark Christian/Aquinas game. Landmark beat Aquinas, 10-8, earlier this season, and ELCA beat Landmark, 35-14, this year. The title game is in two weeks in the Georgia Dome.

Seminole made two trips to North Georgia for a scrimmage and a game last year, and no one in Donalsonville is concerned about the long bus ride or playing such a big game on the road.

“My kids have seen the big city. They’re not impressed,’’ Ingram said. “After the game we’ll come back to God’s country.’’

The Indians will carry a chip on their shoulder all the way to McDonough — a 231-mile trip from Donalsonville.

“I think we play better on the road,’’ Rambo said. “When you’re on the road, it’s like you’re already down by a touchdown when the game starts, and that just makes you play harder. I like being on the road.’’

Brown, Rambo, quarterback Antwan Buggs and receiver Dee Virgin, who is one of the top defensive backs in the state, give Seminole a variety of weapons for an option offense that has piled up more than 700 rushing yards in two playoff games. And they all play defense for a team that doesn’t give up much. Ingram’s great nephew, Andre Ingram, a linebacker, has stepped up down the stretch and playoff teams are finding out how tough it is to score on the Indians.

“We’ve got faith in our defense,’’ said Brown, who has made three run-them-down, touchdown-saving tackles in two playoff games, and has five interceptions this season.

Virgin and Brown’s speed and ability as defensive backs allows Ingram to play man-to-man in the secondary, which gives Seminole another man in the box against the run.

“We’re not going to worry about (the talk about ELCA’s running back). We’re going to go out and play our game on defense,’’ Virgin said. “The defense is playing better now in the playoffs. The chemistry is better now than at any time in the year. We have chemistry and leadership, and we know we have to go after it on every play. If you want it, you have to go get it.’’

And what about Brown vs. Green?

“Chris Brown is the real deal,’’ Virgin said. “Chris will get it done. We’re all going to get it done.’’


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