St. Pius coach Paul Standard will be gunning for his 100th career victory this week when the No. 5 Golden Lions host Towers in the Region 6-AAA opener.
Standard is a legacy at St. Pius, where he played high school ball. Standard has been the head coach at St. Pius since 2001 and has helped rebuild the program back into a state power. The worst record the Golden Lions have had under Standard is a pair of 5-5 seasons. More typical have been double-digit wins; those occurred in 2003, 2006, 2009 and 2011. Standard’s overall record is 99-35, a 73.9 winning percentage.
St. Pius was a mystery team before the season began. No one knew how long it would take for the club to rebound after losing a boatload of starters and contributors from last year’s 12-1 season. But the team has responded well against a rugged early season schedule and raced to a 3-1 record. There’s still a lot of season left and some tough teams (Blessed Trinity, Woodward Academy) ahead, but it looks like Pius has a great opportunity to win another region championship.
Pius is coming off a 24-0 win over Class AA No. 4 Lovett, the first meeting between the schools since 1983. Daniel Crochet (eight tackles) and Quincy Nieporte (seven tackles) led the defense, while quarterback Jack Spear and fullback Ryan Braswell led the offense.
Is Cartersville back? The No. 7 Purple Hurricanes played a great second half on Friday to dispatch Region 5 rival and previously unbeaten North Murray. Quarterback Brooks Barden has done a nice job running the offense and Cartersville has found a knack of making the big play when needed. Last Friday the Canes scored on four plays of 30 yards or loner, including a 64-yard run by Kalin Heath. Barden threw for 182 yards and Brandon Long rushed for 100 and two TDs. Although North Murray lost the game, the Mountaineers appear to be a team that’s on the cusp of having a breakthrough season. Quarterback Brady Swilling, who ran for 138 yards and threw for 98, has become one of the best in the region.
Running wild: There were some big games recorded on Friday night. Jemerico Bell of Swainsboro ran for 156 yards and scored on runs of 62 and 37 yards. Justin Moore scored twice and Jordan Vann had a 96-yard touchdown for Appling County. Milton Shelton of Blessed Trinity ran for 131 yards and scored a touchdown. Chris Jordan of Thomson carried 31 times for 202 yards.
Look who lost — again: Things didn’t any better for a Beach, Johnson, Savannah, Central Macon, Towers, Fannin County or East Jackson, who all remained winless. If there is a silver lining for Johnson, it’s that the Atom Smashers finally scored some points. In fact, Johnson lost a tough 28-21 decision to No. 10-ranked Appling County, one of the favorites in Region 1. “We finally put some points on the board,” Johnson running back Corbin Mitchell told the Savannah Morning News. “Our line did a good job opening some holes tonight and I think we came together as a team. We gave a good effort, but it just wasn’t quite enough.”
Look who won: Three teams picked up their first win of the season. Henry County, Pike County and Douglass all ensured themselves of avoiding a winless season. In beating Luella 22-20, Henry County scored more points than it had mustered in its three previous games combined. Pike County, a likely non-factor in Region 2, knocked off Central Carroll, a team most expected to contend in Region 4. Douglass presented coach Rodney Cofield with his first victory at the school; the Astros beat Towers 14-0 after losing two other games by a total of seven points and broke a 26-game losing streak.
Tragedy in Brantley County: Devin Johns, a pitcher on the Brantley County baseball team, was killed Friday afternoon in a traffic accident after school was dismissed. He was a passenger in a pickup truck that struck a school bus on U.S. Hwy. 82.