In 2007, Burke County and Peach County made important hires that would shape the state’s football landscape for the next half decade. Chad Campbell was named head coach of the Trojans while Eric Parker was tapped to lead the Bears. During Campbell’s tenure at Peach County, he has compiled an .877 winning percentage and earned two trips to the state finals. In 2009, his squad won the title in a 13-12 nailbiter over Gainesville. With consecutive trips to the state semifinals, Burke County has become a state power. Parker has helped bring the Bears back to the state title game for the second time in school history with the other appearance coming in 1997. Despite making the finals in 1997, Burke County has never won a state title. Peach County, on the other hand, won titles in 2005, 2006 and 2009. This meeting between the Bears and Trojans will be the first ever between the two programs.
Burke County 13-1 Region 3 Champions
The Burke County Bears (13-1) have run wild this season behind their ground attack. The rushing game has caught many defenses off guard and has supplied the Region 3-AAA champs with a gashing, high-scoring offensive attack. The Bears’ offense averages around 45 points per game and has surpassed the 50-point mark six times this season including an 84-7 drumming of Cross Creek.
In last week’s semifinal matchup against Gainesville, the offense did not skip a beat. The ground game compiled 527 total yards en route to a 63-28 rout over the Red Elephants. Running back Donquell Green led the team with 189 yards on 11 attempts and scored three touchdowns and also had a 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Senior quarterback Corey Mayton, who has an offer from Georgia State, added 121 yards on the ground while tailback Montres Kitchens gained 90 yards and had three touchdowns. The trio helped the Bears garner 20 first downs in the opening two quarters. With such a high-flying offense, Burke County hopes it can give the astonishing Peach County defense a run for its money.
The defense also has held its own this season by holding over half of its opponents to less than 10 points. Kitchens plays safety as well for the Bears and recorded six tackles against Gainesville. If the Bears hope to contain the Trojans’ passing attack at the Dome, Kitchens will need to have a major role in the defense. In the trenches, Devonte Lambert plugs the holes and provides quarterbacks with countless amounts of pressure. He accounted for three tackles against the Red Elephants.
By defeating the Red Elephants, the Bears finally got over the hump to play at the Georgia Dome. Last season’s stinging 49-15 defeat at the hands of runner-up Carrollton left a bad taste in Burke County’s mouths. With another year of experience, the Bears hope a strong defense and an unstoppable running game can be the difference.
Peach County 13-1 Region 2 Champions
Peach County continued its pursuit of another state title by defeating Cairo 16-7 in Fort Valley to extend its season record to 13-1. With the win, the Region 2-AAA champs make their seventh appearance in the state title game in hopes of winning a fourth crown and first since 2009.
Despite a minor speed bump in a 21-14 loss to West Laurens, Peach County has played relative good ball the rest of the way to generate an eight-game winning streak. A major reason for the Trojans success this season has come on the defensive side of the ball. The Trojans currently average approximately nine points per game and nine of their opponents have scored less than 10, including a 34-0 shutout over Central-Macon. During last week’s victory over Cairo, the defense did not shy away from the success attained this season. At halftime, the Trojans’ defense held the Syrupmakers to only 50 yards of total offense, and the only points put on the board for Peach County came on linebacker Ryan Bowman’s pick-6.
The offense also has some playmakers that can change the perception of a game. Quarterback Kentel Kendrick has thrown for 2,045 yards thus far on the season and has 16 touchdown passes to his three picks. Nine of those touchdowns have gone to stud junior receiver Demarcus Robinson. The wideout, who has received scholarship offers from Florida and Georgia, has amassed 1,040 yards receiving and added 125 yards and five touchdowns on the ground. The amazing part of his stat line is in his yards per reception where he averages almost 20 yards a catch. During last week’s semifinal matchup, a banged-up Robinson caught three passes for 77 yards. After sitting for most of the third quarter with a sprained shoulder, Robinson still came in with the game on the line. Expect Robinson to be “all in” with the season on the line at the Georgia Dome.