Class AAAA Preview

Sandy Creek has put up long drives for touchdowns, but it’s no stretch to label them a big-play team.

Sandy Creek coach Chip Walker doesn’t dispute the notion.

“I think we can be. I don’t necessarily think we have to be,” said Walker. “I would say that we have big-play capabilities, and we make a bunch of them.”

Indeed, the Patriots have excelled at game-changing plays. Thirteen times in 14 games they’ve had five plays of 20 yards or longer. The five so-called explosive plays per game was one of Sandy Creek’s goals going into the season, the linchpin to wiping away some of the hurt of falling short a year ago.

“As a coach they’re always tougher to swallow when you don’t think you played as good as you could have,” Walker said. “It’s been good for us to get back to that level again.”

So perhaps the key factor in the Class AAAA final will be whether Ridgeland can level off Sandy Creek’s big plays.

Ridgeland coach Mark Mariakis acknowledges as much.

“We just hope we can keep them from having one- and two-play drives,” said Ridgeland coach Mark Mariakis. “Nobody wants that.”

Which brings us to Vonn Bell. The Ridgeland safety, perhaps the top uncommitted recruit in the state, has been everywhere for the Panthers. He’s a multi-talented offensive player, the team’s second-leading rusher and its leading receiver, but he’s basically got one function on defense: Eraser. He’s the guy who can keep 20-yard plays from becoming 50-yard plays, though he has confidence in his teammates to keep from getting to that.

“I trust my guys to make plays,” Bell said, “but I’ll make big plays for you.”

Bell leads the team with 136 total tackles, has three interceptions, has forced two fumbles and has five tackles for loss.

Said Mariakis, “Vonn makes us all look real smart.”

Regardless of which team has the ball, Bell is a focal point for Sandy Creek.

“He’s one of those guys where you always have to be aware of where he is on the field. He gets involved in the run game, plays back there and plays center field a little bit,” Walker said.

On the other side of the line, Sandy Creek junior reciever Demarre Kitt almost certainly will come up against Bell at some point. He’s not the only weapon the Patriots have. To the contrary, he’s one of four 1,000-yard players on the Sandy Creek offense.

But he may be the most dangerous. Kitt, who has 68 catches for 1,151 yards and 11 touchdowns, is the guy who with one missed tackle is on the fast track to the end zone. He turned the game against Burke County in the semifinals on just such a play.

“I think it may come down to a big play,” Kitt said. “It might not be necessarily me. It might be Kyle (Wilson), it might be Eric Swinney, might be Delvin (Weems). ”

Or it might be Bell.

“It’s the biggest challenge we’ve had to date, but we have a chance because we’re in the game,” Mariakis said.

13 comments Add your comment

sportsnut

December 14th, 2012
11:36 am

Lets go Creek ! Lovejoy is pulling for you.

Casual_Observer

December 14th, 2012
12:13 pm

Speak for yourself sportsnut,
I live around Lovejoy, and for one cant stand Sandy Creek, nor their smugly arrogant fanbase. I hope they lose and they feel the humiliation of what so much bragging does. If ANY TEAM deserves to get knocked down a peg or three it is Sandy Creek.

ridgelandpanthers07

December 14th, 2012
12:37 pm

Sandy Creek fans have disrespected Ridgeland. The whole state has disrespected Ridgeland all year. Now it is time to put an exclamation point on this season. Beat the Creek!

1bighammer

December 14th, 2012
1:22 pm

@ridgelandpanthers07…want a little cheese with that whine?

Patriot Power

December 14th, 2012
2:00 pm

@Casual – We did get beat, last year by Gainesville. So you are one season too late. At least we can be knocked DOWN.

@RP07 – Aren’t we just the saddest martyr? The whole state just picking on little ole Ridgeland. I think I’ll cry with you. You are the one who implies your RBs can’t be stopped. You are a great team, and if you win tomorrow, you will have respect. If you don’t, you can still earn respect depending on how you lose.

Go Creek!

hornblowermg

December 14th, 2012
2:22 pm

what a dumb response! some people wait all year to use their one-liner, even if it is out of context. arrogance needs to be careful; you don’t want to make our ridgerunners mad.

Stone

December 14th, 2012
3:56 pm

@Sportsnut..SC thanks you and I will be pulling for Lovejoy as well….@Casual_Observer…we thank you for your hate towards SC…..I going to hate to see the kids hurt but you I will enjoy seeing you hurt after the game…Go Creek!!!

GTVET

December 14th, 2012
8:56 pm

Sic um Ridgeland…Calhoun area is pulling for you.Lets have two Championships in NW Georgia this year..GO JACKETS!!!!!

YELLERJACKETZ1

December 14th, 2012
11:25 pm

COME ON RIDGELAND WE ARE PULLING FOR YALL! GOOD LUCK ALSO CREEK ! SHOULD BE A WAR ! CALHOUN ROCKS !!!!

Creek16

December 15th, 2012
9:25 am

Fortunately for everyone, none of the idiots who post here are playing or coaching for either team. I assure you that SC players and coaches have prepared to take on a great Ridgeland squad with some serious weapons. I am also sure Ridgeland is aware of what SC brings to the table.

I, for one, can’t wait to see this “Strength on Strength” matchup.

I pray for an injury free game. GOOOOOO CREEEEEEK!!!!!

GTVET

December 15th, 2012
1:08 pm

So if one has posted here they are idiots?Or is it you that has decided who is or isn’t an idiot?As long as one has respect for another and stays in the realm of class,I figure they have the right to say anything they want just as you do…IM glad SC has prepared well for the Ridgeland game,Most teams do dont they?I’m guessing Ridgeland has also prepared for this game,Ya think??Just remember these are kids and they are playing a GAME.SC may very well run all over Ridgeland.I dont se it happening but they may.It also could go the other way,but knowing either you or I can’t predict the future I guess the game will have to be played on the field today…My prediction (which means NOTHING) is Ridgeland by 7,but either way Good luck to both teams……….GO JACKETS!!!!!!and GO Ridgeland ……Calhoun area is pulling for ya…

Patriot Power

December 15th, 2012
7:22 pm

BTW, I am pulling for Lovejoy as well. You guys deserve it.

Just Saying

December 15th, 2012
8:37 pm

Ridgeland can not win without playing on their home field, and their referees. Marist should have made the field goal, so it would not have been a running clock in the 4A Championship game. Bye bye one hit wonder! Congrats to the Creek!! 45-10, what a shame of TV time!