The matchup that citizens of Calhoun, Brooks County and pretty much everyone else in the state has been pointing toward since the Class AA bracket was released is finally here.
The Class AA defending state champion and No. 1-ranked Jackets host No. 2 Brooks County on Friday at Phil Reeve Stadium in the third round of the state playoffs. (Since both teams were No. 1 seeds out of their region, a coin toss on Saturday, which Calhoun won, determined the home site.)
“Everybody has been anticipating this game,” said Calhoun coach Hal Lamb. “Both our fans and Brooks County fans have been talking about this one for a while. Both teams won their region, and there weren’t any upsets in the first two rounds so here we are.
“It’s going to be a great night of football.”
Both teams enter the game at 12-0, coming off convincing wins in the second round. Calhoun downed Washington-Wilkes, 34-7, and Brooks County defeated McIntosh County Academy, 49-21, last Friday.
The two faced off in the second round last season with the Jackets getting the best of the matchup, winning 43-30 to advance. Lamb said last year’s game doesn’t have any effect on this year’s because Brooks County is a different team.
“I think they are much better than they were last year, and they’re a year older than last year,” said Lamb. “They are a very, very good team and are very athletic across the board. They’ve got a really good quarterback that can make plays with his arm and legs. They have good receivers and running backs, and they are very aggressive on defense.
“They are the total package. We will have our hands full.”
The quarterback Lamb is speaking of his Malcolm Parrish who has had a stellar season and played well last year against the Jackets, tossing four TD passes.
Calhoun’s Taylor Lamb has had a solid season as well, and added three TD passes last week to make it 30 for the season to go along with his 2,800 yards.
The Jackets defense was the big story in the win over Washington-Wilkes as they forced five turnovers, which led to 28 Calhoun points. Will Conley had two interceptions, Donnell Anthony had a fumble recovery and an interception and JP Parker added an interception.
Hal Lamb said the defense, which has seven takeaways in the playoffs, has to continue doing what they’ve been doing.
“I think they played really well last week, and we’re going to see a similar-type offense (against Brooks County) so they need to continue playing well,” said Hal Lamb. “This game is going to come down to turnovers so our defense needs to continue doing what they’ve been doing.”
The Jackets also have the advantage of taking the more than five-hour trip to Quitman to play the game after Hal Lamb won the coin toss in Macon on Saturday morning.
“It was a big flip,” said Hal Lamb. “Some haven’t been as big over the last few years, but the loser of this one had to make that long trip. We’re fortunate to be able to play the game here.
“You still have to play between the lines, but we need a big crowd and a great atmosphere here at The Reeve on Friday.”
Calhoun did make the long trip to Brooks County in 2008 when they won a dramatic game 38-35 to make their first of four straight trips to the Georgia Dome.
Hal Lamb said he believe this game will be just as close as that one was.
“We’ve got to be sound in all areas,” said Lamb. “We have to make plays when they’re there and force some turnovers.
“This is one of those games that is going to come down to two or three plays so we need them to go in our favor.”
Most people believed this would be the matchup once the brackets were released, and now, it’s actually going to happen. All the talking and predictions won’t matter anymore. They get to settle who the better team is on the field.
Both teams have loads of talent, especially on offense, so this could be a high-scoring shootout. Most teams don’t want to get in those types of games with Calhoun, but Brooks County is one that doesn’t mind all that much. Expect an atmosphere like the one two years ago when Carver-Columbus came to town. This game will be just as good and probably, even more evenly-matched.
Home field could play a role based on the length of the trip Brooks County will have to make.
This will be one for the ages. Slight edge to the Jackets.
Calhoun 42, Brooks County 39