Maurice Freeman is coach of the Brooks County Trojans, ranked No. 8 and hailing from Region 1-AA. He is – at least with the media – a man of few words.
“Everything,” Freeman said after being asked what his team still has to work on at this point in the season.
“Ourselves,” his response to the biggest obstacles in the Trojans’ way of the No. 1 seed.
The Trojans are 6-1 overall and at 3-0 in 1-AA, are the lone undefeated team in the region. On Friday, they knocked off perhaps their biggest challenge in the region, beating Fitzgerald, 39-21, on the road.
It’s easy to understand Freeman’s guarded approach to the media. A little more than a month before the season began, he and his program endured everyone’s nightmare when a car wreck took the lives of three football players. The wreck occurred near the school, which is located in south Georgia 17 miles west of Valdosta and just 10 miles north of the Georgia-Florida border. The players were on their way to morning practice.
Despite the tragedy, Freeman believes there are no excuses for losing on the football field.
“We’re just like everyone else,” Freeman said. “It’s just like someone losing a kid to a torn ACL. You can’t cry about it. You’ve got to be ready to play and we’ve done a good job of that. We continue to function.”
Of course Freeman’s not comparing the tragedy to tearing an ACL. But his point is valid – opponents aren’t going to cut the Trojans any slack. Opponents will try to beat them just the same, and it’s the Trojans who’ll have to overcome.
The good news for Brooks County is it has. De’Vron Whitfield – the lone survivor of the crash – is not only fully recovered, but a key component to the run game. The Trojans’ success thus far can largely be contributed to the talents of University of Georgia commitment Malkom Parrish, who plays quarterback and cornerback. Last Friday, Parrish was the difference against Fitzgerald, throwing for three touchdowns and returning an interception for a touchdown on defense in what Freeman believes permanently turned the game in Brooks County’s favor.
Brooks County has three region games left before an inevitable sixth consecutive trip to the playoffs. That would make Freeman 6-for-6 in taking the Trojans to the postseason. They finished 3-7 in 2007, the year before Freeman arrived. Two of Brooks County’s final three games are against teams winless in 1-AA, Pelham next week and Berrien to close out the season. Cook – who is fighting for a top four finish and playoff seed – is sandwiched between.
It’s very possible Brooks County will run the table – the Trojans outscored their final three opponents 120-41 last season – and win the region for a second year in a row and third time in Freeman’s tenure. From there, it’s onto the playoffs, where the Trojans have advanced five consecutive seasons, including the quarterfinals last year and semifinals in 2008.
How does Brooks County match up against the rest of the state?
“I don’t know,” Freeman said. “I’m only concerned about the next game.”
Adam Krohn covers all things Class AA football. Have a question or tip? Want to see more coverage of your team? Want to drop a line to compliment how awesome the Class AA beat coverage is? Send Adam a message on Twitter @AdamKrohnAJC and follow him for the latest in Class AA coverage.