It’s a time honored tradition that football coaches meet half way on Saturday morning to exchange game films and flip a coin for home-field advantage for a playoff game, when neither is seeded higher.
In recent years, though, with coaches instead exchanging film on the web, Calhoun coach Hal Lamb considers it somewhat crazy to have met Brooks County coach Maurice Freeman at Burger King in Macon last Saturday just to flip the coin to determine home-field advantage for Friday’s Class AA quarterfinal between the 12-0 teams.
Lamb had a couple coaches with him, Freeman a few family members. They spoke briefly. Lamb flipped. Freeman called heads. It landed tails.
That meant Brooks, the No. 1 seed from Region 1-AA, now drives five hours from Quitman to Calhoun, the No. 1 seed from 7-AA.
Seemed odd to Lamb, who with just a few mouse clicks had exchanged four films with Freeman earlier that morning, before either drove 2 1/2 hours to meet for five minutes.
“With today’s technology, somebody at the GHSA office should be able to flip a coin, while we’re all on the phone together,” Lamb said. “It’s kind of crazy to drive 2 1/2 hours with today’s technology. It made sense to flip a coin while you were (in person) swapping film, but it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense in today’s technology.”
But the drive proved worthwhile for Lamb, whose defending state champion Yellow Jackets (12-0) now are going for a 40th consecutive home win, having last lost at home to Cartersville in Game 3 of 2008. Lamb likes playing at Calhoun’s Phil Reeve Stadium, a more intimate stadium than most, where absence of a track puts the estimated 3,500 fans on top of the action.
“There’s probably no other atmosphere like ours,” Lamb said. “The stands being right on top of you is great. There are people lining the fence, and it’s a nice high school atmosphere.”
But coin flips haven’t always worked out for Lamb. Last year Calhoun lost a flip and had to drive 200 miles for a quarterfinal in Dublin, though still won.
Brooks is 0-2 against Calhoun, having lost to the Jackets in the 2008 semifinal in Quitman and last season in the second round in Calhoun. This time, the Trojans are scheduled to take busses from Quitman at 8 a.m. and break up the drive with a walk-through practice at Westside-Macon, then dinner just north of Atlanta, before the final hour to the 7:30 p.m. game in Calhoun.
Freeman felt it best that players sleep at home Thursday night, instead of in a hotel.
Once in Calhoun, “nothing will be a surprise to us,” he said. “We’ve had to play in a lot of foreign territory, so this is nothing new.
“Flat out,” he added, “wherever we are, we’ve got to play.”
Ironically, Friday’s winner plays Lamar County or Lovett, No. 1 seeds from Regions 4 and 6, respectively. That means — you guessed it — a coin flip.
Here are this week’s other AA quarterfinals:
– Lamar County (11-0-1) at Lovett (8-4): The teams’ first meeting pits the unbeaten Trojans against the Lions, who’ve won six straight since losing four in a row early this season.
– Fitzgerald (10-2) at Jefferson (11-1): The Purple Hurricanes come in having upset previously unbeaten Vidalia 52-20, and the Dragons take the field for the teams’ first meeting on an 11-game roll.
– Early County (9-3) at Greater Atlanta Christian (9-3): The Bobcats would like revenge from the teams’ only other meeting, in 2002, when the Spartans won 21-19 in the semifinals in the Georgia Dome.