Skip to main content
 

They're Quietly Winning At Cairo

It’s one of the quieter 5-1 starts we’ve seen in 2019.
 
With a 39-0 win over Columbus last Friday night, the Cairo Syrupmakers are in the middle of the Class 4A polls and it takes you a while to remember the program, coached these days by Steve Devoursney, is 13th in the state ALL-TIME in wins (one behind Fitzgerald, Dalton and Griffin). 
 
“I don’t think we played as well as we could have, but to have all three phases work is a good feeling as the season goes along,” he says. 
 
For the record, Cairo had a kick-six return for a score and a kickoff return for a score in addition to all the offense and defensive impact they left in Muscogee County last week. CHS only totaled 142 yards in offense.
 
Devoursney has won two region titles in his first four seasons as head coach after he took over when Tom Fallaw retired after the 2014 year. The last year the team didn’t make the playoffs?
 
2002!
 
“It’s been good being here,” Devoursney admits. “Cairo is a good place that cares about football. The fans are great and South Georgia is a good place to be.”
But with Cairo, the county seat of Grady County (halfway between Bainbridge and Thomasville), being where they are as a program they kind of fall between the cracks of media coverage. I asked if Coach thought his start (and his team, really) are a “secret” in the state:
 
“I would think so,” he says. “You don’t get a lot of, outside of south Georgia, a whole lot of media coverage. I think we’re talked about, and people know who Cairo is, but south Georgia as a place for recruiting or coverage in general is a bit of a secret still.
 
“It’s a big stumbling block for recruiting. And it’s hard to get most coaches to come by unless a coach has a guy on their radar. The schools are so spread apart down here in south Georgia. It’s not like Atlanta where you have a lot of schools in a 15-20 minute radius. College coaches get more bang for their buck there. Here, unless you have a kid on a sheet, or you’re going to see someone you’ve already seen on film, you just don’t pop in unless you’re a Georgia school.”
 
Devoursney has had some double-digit win seasons in his time in charge in Cairo to go with his 13 seasons at Griffin where he won three region titles and a state crown in 2013. With his season at the halfway point, I wanted to know where the Syrupmakers are. 
 
“I think before it’s all said and done, we’ll be a pretty good football team,” he says. “We have a lot to work on. By the playoffs, we should be in good shape. We just need to work on fundamentals -- blocking, tackling, things like that -- and being smarter football players. They just need to work on their ‘football IQ.’ We’ve had some kids get hurt, so we have new kids and new positions, and we’re getting their replacements caught up. We just have to hone in on where the kids are and make sure, with the changes, that everyone knows what they’re doing.”
Kicker Noah Jones is one of the best in Georgia.
 
But when you have a situation like that where moving parts have to move around and get comfortable quickly, Devoursney and the staff love it when the light comes on and players understand the message.
 
“It’s great when a kid gets it and we can work on other things he might be lacking. As a unit --  when offense, defense, or special teams -- get it, it makes it satisfying, too, that they make the right checks to get you out of a situation.”
 
I asked him about life in Class AAAA, but honestly he said he was focused more on their game with Carver-Columbus Friday night. In his estimation, they have a really good football team and they’ll be a tough out in the playoffs. 
 
But there is one thing to pay attention to if you’re looking at this team for their final four region games in 2019.
 
Road games.
 
Cairo doesn’t play an October home game. It’s a two-and-a-half hour ride to region games in Columbus and another 1:45 to playing in Americus. It makes getting a region title or No. 2 seed that much more important for Season Three, so folks are traveling south as opposed to them having to head north.
 
All that as Cairo tries to go back-to-back in Region 1-4A.
 
Play it safe, everyone… I’ll see you at the game!
 

Jon Nelson has been a television journalist for twenty-five years based in Atlanta. He graduated from Lakeside High School in Atlanta and Florida State University with a Bachelor's of Science degree in Political Science. His television career has... more