Mitchell County’s Tremel Emanuel rushes upfield against Albany High earlier this season. The Eagles open the Class A public school playoffs on the road Friday at Hawkinsville. (Staff Photo: Tim Morse)
CAMILLA – It’s been nearly two weeks since Mitchell County suffered an 18-12 setback in its regular-season finale, denying the Eagles a chance to claim the Region 1-A football championship.
Coach Larry Cornelius insists his team has forgotten about the loss at Seminole County.
“We gave them the Monday off after that game, then they came in Tuesday and watched a ton of film,” Cornelius said. “We sat down and watched the Seminole County tape and concentrated on what we could do better.”
The Eagles (6-4) will travel to Hawkinsville to meet the Red Devils in the first round of the Class A public school playoffs Friday night. Seminole County, the top seed in the 16-team playoff, will play host to Wilkinson County.
Even though the playoff seedings were not finalized until late last week, Cornelius said he had a good idea who his team was going to play. He was able to track down some Hawkinsville tape, and his players got a glimpse of what to expect.
Hawkinsville (7-3) has won four straight, including a 14-10 victory over then No. 3 Marion County, the highest ranked Class A public school at the time.
After a year’s absence, Mitchell County is glad to be back in the postseason. And the Eagles believe they can play with anyone, especially after they fell by just six points in Donalsonville to Seminole County in their last game.
“As I look at the Class A public school bracket, I really don’t see a favorite,” Cornelius said. “There are a lot of really good teams. But anybody can win, as there is a lot of parity in this class.”
Three of the Eagles’ four losses were to playoff teams Clinch County and Seminole County in Class A, as well as Brooks County in Class AA.
“Right now, we can’t worry about records,” Cornelius said. “We’d like to host the playoffs, which is unfortunate, but we’re excited to still be playing another game.”
Seminole County (10-0) finished its first unbeaten regular-season since 1973. The Indians don’t want to lose now.
“Everything that we’ve done is in the past,” Seminole County coach Alan Ingram said. “We’re in the postseason now, so it’s sudden death. If you come in second, by golly, you’re a loser.”
The Indians will entertain a Wilkinson County team that finished the season 4-6, but which has the ability to score a lot of points. Ingram said the Warriors are big.
“They are huge,” he said. “I bet they are pushing 300 pounds everywhere.”
After its win over Mitchell two weeks ago, Ingram said his team has to move past its regular season accomplishments. The Indians have never won a state championship.
That path begins Friday night in Donalsonville.
“I think our kids will be ready to play,” he said. “We’ve got to get our players’ heads screwed back on straight. Your past accomplishments aren’t going to get you anywhere. We’ve got to get back to business.”