Fitzgerald, GAC get big boost

In the space ship toward that football state championship, there’s that red button, “Turbo boost from stunning someone undefeated.”

Fitzgerald and Greater Atlanta Christian pushed that button Friday by beating Vidalia and Heard County in the second round of the Class AA playoffs.

Maybe now comes propulsion into the championship stratosphere.

“That’s what we’re hoping,” Fitzgerald coach Jason Strickland said of arguably his team’s biggest win. “That’s one thing we’ve told our kids.”

It’s remarkable how lopsidedly Fitzgerald (10-2) stunned Vidalia 52-20, and GAC (9-3) trounced Heard 52-21 to reach this Friday’s quarterfinals against Jefferson and Early County, respectively. In their fifth straight win, the Purple Hurricanes exploded for 39 consecutive points in the second quarter gained 344 yards, including 330 rushing, according to the Tifton Gazette. Similarly, in their second straight win, the Spartans shut out Heard 24-0 in the second half, sparked by Rafe Chapple’s 357 yards passing and Kyle Scales’ four touchdowns rushing, the Gwinnett Daily Post reported.

Talk about momentum, Strickland said that when his Hurricanes went ahead 18-14 on a 47-yard field goal just before halftime, “You could feel the energy leave their sideline and come over to ours.”

Now comes the challenge of harnessing that momentum in a season in which Strickland said, “anything you can think of has happened.”

“We know (now) we have a team that’s good enough to make a big run,” he said. “There are several things, though, that have to continue to go well for you.”

Spartans coach Tim Hardy said ousting an 11-0 team like Heard could be just the propulsion his team needs as well.

“We’ve seen difficult opponents throughout the year,” he said, “but to have a night like we did Friday, to execute that well on the road, was a huge confidence booster.”

Like Hardy, Strickland likes his team’s intensity. But, he warned, “It’s hard to keep finding that energy and intensity you played with the week before. We had more energy and intensity against Vidalia than I’ve ever seen us have.”

Hardy agreed beating an undefeated team in the second round is a boost that can sustain a team through the playoffs. But he cautioned against premature plans to play in the Georgia Dome three weeks from now.

“We all know what’s at stake,” he said of looking beyond the quarterfinals. “You have to focus on what you’re doing this week.”

7 comments Add your comment


November 27th, 2012
6:52 am

The dome is what they are thinking, all day long.


November 27th, 2012
8:27 am



November 27th, 2012
11:41 am

Vidalia’s 7 turnovers (4 unforced) had a lot to do with the momentum swing. VHS came out in the 2nd half and stopped Fitzgerald on their first drive and then promptly snapped the ball over the punter’s head. Fitzgerald took advantage of the turnovers no doubt, but the field goal didn’t change the Mo!

Golden Isles Fan

November 27th, 2012
11:50 am

region 1-2A is dominating, but can they over come the hurdle week in week out????

confidence in 15-18 yr. olds is hard to contain…..

Fitz will continue to dominate

Brooks will get an awakening in Calhoun….I remember when Fitz played there twice…..their 12th man is hard to defend…..electric atmosphere. very good fans,,,very nice and friendly????? come playoffs.

Early is the sleeper should be interesting…


November 27th, 2012
12:53 pm

FYI: 24 Qtr final games streaming this week. Go here.. Fitzgerald vs. Jefferson are there..

CANES n Milton Fan

November 27th, 2012
10:13 pm

@ golden Isles FAn , you are right those turnovers had alot to do with the big win . but keep in mind those over the head snaps came from 3 and outs the defense of fitzgerald gave vidialia . Also they only held fitz to 2 or 3 3 and outs , couldnt really stop the offense .

YoungerThan ThatNow

November 28th, 2012
12:26 am

Forced turnovers or not… that’s not the important thing about turnovers. The important thing is whether or not your team takes advantage of turnovers… Fitzgerald took advantage and scored on every turnover but one. Just guessing here, but I would guess that Vidalia’s defense was on the field for probably 18 of the second half’s 24 minutes… maybe more. I haven’t seen the real numbers, so that’s strictly a guess.

The Fitzgerald field goal may not have been a ‘momentum changer’ on the Vidalia side of the field, but it was definitely a confidence booster for the players and on the Fitzgerald side of the field.

I believe that Vidalia is a much better team than what they showed last Friday night, but I don’t think there’s any question that they saw their strongest competition against Fitzgerald.

We shall see what takes place in Jefferson this week. Best wishes to both teams!