The enormity of Vidalia’s players gave Fitzgerald football coach Jason Strickland pause.
In fact, he hit pause several times when viewing three videos of Friday’s second-round opponent in the Class AA playoffs, having only film by which to judge.
“Obviously, Vidalia has large, large kids,” said Strickland, a tinge of nervousness coming through. So he’s gathering whatever tidbits he can from common opponents.
“You ask (other coaches) how physical they are,” he said. “Some give you a lot of info, and some don’t give you anything.”
It’s that time in the playoffs where teams face opponents they sometimes haven’t ever, or in this case, not in some time. Fitzgerald’s game at Vidalia might be nothing like those last last two comparatively inconsequential Region 2-AA matchups way back in 1998 and ‘99, when neither teams was a playoff contender and current players were kindergarteners.
Yet, this matchup might be among the most captivating in Class AA. The 9-2 Purple Hurricanes, second-seeded from Region 1-AA, come in on a four-game tear, and the Indians, top-seeded from Region 2-AA, take the field 11-0 and having outscored opponents 34-8 on average.
“Vidalia might be the toughest team we’ll play this year,” Strickland said, keenly aware the Indians trounced Westside-Augusta 57-0 in the first round. “If we’re not ready, it won’t even be close. We’re going to have to play our best game of the year.”
Here’s a glance at the other second-round games:
– Westminster (5-6) at Jefferson (10-1): Despite a 34-0 victory over Pepperell in the first round, the Wildcats hope not to become the Dragons’ 11th straight victim.
– Early County (8-3) at Screven County (10-1): This is the farthest the Gamecocks have gone since winning state at 15-0 in 2002. The Bobcats look to eclipse their semifinal appearance of 2006.
– Greater Atlanta Christian (8-3) at Heard County (11-0): The Spartans want to ruin the Braves’ perfect run in the teams’ first meeting.
– McIntosh County Academy (9-2) at Brooks County (11-0): The Buccaneers’ nine-game streak and the Trojans’ 11-game run will be on the line when these two powers meet for the first time.
– Washington-Wilkes (10-1) at Calhoun (11-0): The defending champion Yellow Jackets have won by more than five touchdowns on average this season, but the Tigers have won five straight since their lone loss.
– Benedictine (8-3) at Lamar County (10-0-1): The Trojans haven’t allowed anyone more than two touchdowns in nine weeks, but the Cadets are hungry for a third win in their last four games.
– Manchester (9-2) at Lovett (7-4): The Blue Devils hope to make their first quarterfinal since 2001, but have their work cut out against the 6-AA champion Lions, 27-0 winners last week against Coosa.