Football Fridays In Georgia: Pierce vs. Appling County — A Fierce Border War with Big Regional Implications
On this week’s weather themed edition of the podcast, Hannah and Jon talk with the head coaches from Appling and Pierce counties, who say their border war and regional matchup this week is one of the top 10 rivalries in the state.
Ryan Herring, Pierce County Head Coach: If you told me we were going to be 5 and 0 in July. I mean, I probably would have kissed you.
Hannah Goodin: Jon is sensitive. So don't be too mean to him.
Jordan Mullis, Appling County Head Coach: You open Pandora's box. Now.
Jon Nelson: I feel like that should be the title of the podcast this week. Football Fridays in Georgia, weather permitting.
Jon Nelson: Welcome to another round of the Football Fridays in Georgia podcast at Georgia Public Broadcasting. Thanks for accessing us; however you are doing so, large device or small, social media, all 98 different versions of that. Jon here, Hannah there. And this one's a fun one because we've started doing kind of like this theme idea where we'll pick a game, and we'll talk to both coaches about said game. And we did it last week with Savannah Christian and Calvary Day. It was a one-score game, and that was the tight one that we figured. This one that we have this week traditionally is tight. And, of course, you have coach both coaches that we have coming up, Jordan Mullis from Appling County and Ryan Herring from Pierce. They're just kind of all shucking their way through it. I don't know. It's going to be tough. We've got, you know, but it's a great rivalry in middle and South Georgia out of Region 3 AA for this year and next. This one was a fun one to put together.
Hannah Goodin: Yeah. I mean, we're halfway through the regular season.
Jon Nelson: Which means we're —
Hannah Goodin: Over halfway now, which means we're into region play.
Jon Nelson: Yeah.
Hannah Goodin: So, we wanted to get a big region matchup, and these two coaches work and stick around for the interviews because a silencer is involved — with one of them.
Jon Nelson: Yeah, but no.
Hannah Goodin: A little inside joke it is hilarious.
Jon Nelson: Yeah. But no, it's fun stuff to catch up with both of these coaches and kind of pull back the curtain on two great football towns in Baxley and Blackshear with Appling County and Pierce County coming up. And if you remember, last year when we were doing all of our coverage of, you know, titles and you know region titles and ones and twos and playoff spots and things like that. This game last year, if I'm not mistaken, in Blackshear was in an absolute downpour, and it was locally broadcast by our friends out of Savannah. And, I mean, the rain was sideways in this one. And so, of course —
Hannah Goodin: Those can be some of the best football games, though. But of course, this year, it's about to be the same thing because Hurricane Ian coming through literally Friday Night.
Jon Nelson: No one said — no one gave Ian permission to do this. No. And so off the top, really, before we get into this particular week's show, we wanted to remind each and every one of you that's attached to your favorite program. If your game is changing a time, if your game is changing a day, if it's going to be moved, later on, let us know through your social media to all of our social media, shoot us an email, Twitter, Facebook, whatever. Get in touch with us. Let us know if your game is going to change time, if it's going to change day, if it's going to change date because the hurricane coming through could wreak havoc with the schedule and especially with-it being region play could make for some very interesting weeks going forward. So, if your game is changing, let us know so we can let the rest of the state know as well because we all know that all the fans of high school football here in the state of Georgia want to keep up with everybody else.
Hannah Goodin: Our game of the week, Calhoun versus Cartersville, could be changing as well. So, you guys follow us at GPB Sports for an update on that. The Purple Hurricanes are the number one team in 5A on the GPB Sports poll. So, we have a really good matchup, and we definitely want to get that thing underway. Let's take a quick look back because we have a lot of scores to get through. A lot happened last week.
Jon Nelson: Yes, it did.
Hannah Goodin: So, our game was Milton versus North Cobb at Emory Sewell School Stadium, the Warriors moved to 3 and 2 after beating the Eagles 21 to 7. North Cobb rushed for 397 yards with Cotton Commission Player of the Game Ben Hall.
Jon Nelson: There you go.
Hannah Goodin: Going for 174 of those. Also Jon, quarterback Nick Grimstead was in for injured quarterback Malachi Singleton. He scored on a 71-yard run 5 minutes into the game, finished with 113 yards rushing, and 85 yards passing. What did you think about his performance?
Jon Nelson: Well, you look at just the running game in general where it's not just one guy. And, you know, you look at Ben Hall, Ben Hall wasn't the most sought-after recruit in this group, and he didn't even play in the first quarter. So, he's getting 174 yards and three-quarters worth of work. And Shane Queen has, I think, an embarrassment of riches at the back with this running game that he has. And it will be interesting to see. All right. With rotations and things, everybody's going to be getting their carries. Everybody's going to be working forward right now. North Cobb at 3 and 2, you have to prepare for all of these guys in region play now. And next up for North Cobb is a trip to Raider Valley in two weeks for the beginning of that region's schedule. So, 3 and 2 will play 3 and 1 in two weeks' time. North Cobb, off, I think, this week. But you're looking at a tough team that will run the football. They've got speed they've getting get to the edge. It's going to be a headache for a lot of folks in 7A.
Hannah Goodin: Let's take a look around the rest of the state. And in Moultrie, defending class 3A Champ Cedar Grove faced off with undefeated Colquitt County. The Packers led 20 to 17 at halftime and then just dominated from there, winning 39-17. Running back Charlie Pace rushed for 117 yards on 17 carries. That was an interesting one.
Jon Nelson: Yeah, it was 20 to 17. They scored the last play in the first half, and then it was just peddled down from there as Colquitt scores 17 in a row.
Hannah Goodin: John Adams has made one of the toughest schedules I have ever seen.
Jon Nelson: So, just to let you know, Saturday, for those of you that don't know Cedar Grove's schedule, Cedar Grove goes to St. John's, DC, Saturday.
Hannah Goodin: They aren't home until the very end of the season.
Jon Nelson: That's like seven, seven away games to start their year.
Hannah Goodin: One home game.
Jon Nelson: Yeah. So, it's just like, all right. But that's the thing. We've always said that Cedar Grove is one of those teams that you put in that category of play anybody, any place, any time, twice on Tuesday, wherever.
Hannah Goodin: The fans. The home fans want to see their teams.
Jon Nelson: I mean, but what you do is you stack up your region play, you get your number one seed, you get all those home games. And so that way you get to bring everybody to you. They take season one to see where they are. And that's what we've always said. Take season one. See where you are as a team. In season two, you take care of business. You've got all your home games. In AAA, one of the top teams, regardless of classification, they get to go to D.C. They probably should leave now because of the weather.
Hannah Goodin: Right. They're probably on their way right now.
Jon Nelson: Right now. Leave right now to get to D.C. for that game on Saturday.
Hannah Goodin: Oh, I'll text and let them know that that's what they should do.
Jon Nelson: Coach, leave now.
Hannah Goodin: Lowndes handed Grayson its first loss of the season, holding the Rams to just 30 yards rushing. The Vikings led 21 to nothing in the first half. Went on to win it. 24-14.
Jon Nelson: Talk about a comeback victory there. Lowndes losing to East Coweta. How do you respond? You're welcome, Grayson. You beat Grayson.
Hannah Goodin: You beat them.
Jon Nelson: So, I mean, that's a that's a big statement for where things are going. If you're a fan of the Lowndes Vikings, big win for them going up against Grayson in a game that you felt like you needed to snap back after the loss on GPB to East Coweta.
Hannah Goodin: Hughes beat Douglas County 48 to 3. Quarterback Aaron Noland was 11 of 20, passing for 229 yards and two scores.
Jon Nelson: Just putting the pedal down against a very traditionally tough defensive-minded club with Douglas County. But, yeah, Hughes 5-0, when we look at the standings and look at the rankings in 6A, we're looking at Hughes and Lee County right now and everybody else is chasing them. Roswell is a part of that group, but Hughes, Lee County, Roswell, one, two, and three in 6A.
Hannah Goodin: Lambert and East Coweta played for the first time ever and won 24 - 31. Lambert won 31-24. The Longhorns' defense was really impressive in that one, I thought.
Jon Nelson: Yeah. And once again, you look at the films out on East Coweta. After what they did on Georgia Public Broadcasting, the film was out. Then, so, you sit there, and you look at that, and it's another way for coaches to sit there and prepare. They can see how things were from a television perspective, and you get a bunch of different camera angles, and you get to see how things are outside of Hudl. It's a different perspective. And, so, the homework was done, and they got the win over East Coweta and East Coweta once again coming off of that big win from Lowndes, that's, you know, Lambert comes up and takes a piece out of you there, too.
Hannah Goodin: And a big rivalry game on the coast between two unbeaten, we mentioned it, Savannah Christian versus Calvary Day. The Cavaliers pulled it out this year 34-28 quarterback Jake Merklinger threw a 25-yard TD pass to Michael Smith for the lead in the fourth quarter and eventually ran out the clock.
Jon Nelson: Yeah.
Hannah Goodin: So, we had both of these coaches on the podcast last week. And what defense did Calvary Day end up running?
Jon Nelson: That's a question we'll have to ask Baker Woodward. Yeah, so, I will ask Baker Woodward about that one from Savannah Christian. So, what was the defense, or we'll ask Mark Stroud Well, I did this or Baker would say, Yeah, I saw this. And so that's fun where we get to have the coaches ask questions of each other within the framework of the game itself. And so, it's kind of turned into this thing that has a mind of its own, and it's been fun to have it start. And we continue that again this week.
Hannah Goodin: Couple bonus games, Osborne won again.
Jon Nelson: They did.
Hannah Goodin: They beat Woodland 38-14 to go 5 and 0. Gainesville, also 5 and 0. And then Warner Robins is out of the top rankings-
Jon Nelson: Yeah, the top 10.
Hannah Goodin: For the first time in 75 weeks, and that's according to the GHSF Daily. They lost to Houston County 28 to 8. It was our stream game of the week.
Jon Nelson: Houston County is 5 and 0, Jeremy Edwards. Warner Robins is 1 in 4. And, you know, it was great to have Jeremy on the postgame show to talk about the game in and of itself. But, yet 28 to 8, and it was just it was dominant in the third quarter two scores in the third quarter for Houston County and Bear down got the Duke in, so right now you're 5 and 0. And guess what?
Hannah Goodin: What?
Jon Nelson: Houston County is in Leesburg this Friday night. You want a test for- you want a test for yourself. You go to Lee County. Lee County at 4 and 1. Houston County, 5 and 0 this Friday night, weather permitting.
Hannah Goodin: Weather permitting.
Jon Nelson: I feel like that should be the title of the podcast this week. Football Fridays in Georgia: Weather Permitting.
Hannah Goodin: Well, weather permitting. No. Last Friday, but last Friday was beautiful. It was your first Friday without your raincoat. You know you put the raincoat on for some reason in the second half.
Jon Nelson: No, I put my jacket, I put my puffy coat on.
Hannah Goodin: Oh, it looked like the raincoat.
Jon Nelson: No, it was puffy. No, I put the puffy coat on.
Hannah Goodin: Oh, okay.
Jon Nelson: Yeah, it was. It was kind of getting in the sixties. So, we put the puffy coat on over the golf shirts. No, it was the puffy color. It wasn't the raincoat.
Hannah Goodin: But, what else did you see across the state, Jon?
Jon Nelson: Oh, wow. Let's see you look at you see. Now you open yourself up.
Hannah Goodin: That's what I was trying to get to it.
Jon Nelson: Well, see, that's what you should have said. Mill Creek beats Parkview. Parkview gets their first loss of the season. You know, we mentioned, so Mill Creek is now at 5 and 0. We mentioned Houston County. Ware County beats Bainbridge Ware County at 4 and 0. Coffee put up a big number Troup beat Starr's Mill. We caught up with Tanner Glisson. Burke County beat Statesboro 35-32. That was a tight one. Benedictine beat Bolles. That's another one there in AAAA. Wayne County Jaybo Shaw, 4 and 1 down in Jesup. They've cracked the rankings in some places. They're 4 and 1. They beat Jenkins by the score of 17-14. You look at, you know, we talked about Calvary Day and Savannah, Christian, Pierce County. We're catching up with Coach Herring. We get to find out what happened with him in region play. So, that was another one that's on the board. Rabun County won. They beat Whitefield 28 to 14. Rabun County traveling everywhere. They're traveling to both hither and yonder this year, and they go to travel again. They go to Fellowship Christian this Friday night for another big road trip for them. Early county, here's one for you before we get into our first guest. Early County beats Mitchell County by the score of 7 to nothing. And you were talking, as I sit here and look at the piece of paper that has the piece that was pulled, so you could dispose of your gum before for the show, Early County. Early County is almost done with region play. They start, they inverted their schedule.
Hannah Goodin: What?
Jon Nelson: They inverted their schedule. They got all of their region games done except for one out of the way.
Hannah Goodin: Did the other teams agreed to this?
Jon Nelson: Yeah. Right now, Early County, 5 and 0 in region one, single-A Division 2.
Hannah Goodin: What's the point of that? The whole point is to do non-region leading up to region play.
Jon Nelson: But, hey, but once but what you've done here is you've set the marker for everybody else in your region.
Hannah Goodin: Oh, so everyone else isn't ready, either.
Jon Nelson: So that way you sit there you go, okay, here's my schedule. All right, now try and catch us. I mean, Early County has inverted their schedule.
Hannah Goodin: Interesting Concept.
Jon Nelson: And so, they can wrap up the region title against Randolph-Clay on October 7th. They close out their season with three non-region games. Early County is almost done with region play because they flip their schedule.
Hannah Goodin: It's either going to be genius or not going to work.
Jon Nelson: Well, we'll see. But right now —
Hannah Goodin: I know.
Jon Nelson: They've run the table so far in region play. And they're going to set a marker.
Hannah Goodin: Pretty sweet.
Jon Nelson: All right. So, you want to go to our first guest?
Hannah Goodin: Let's do it.
Jon Nelson: Okay. So, which one was first?
Hannah Goodin: First up is Pierce County head coach Ryan Herring, and he had to tape early. We all know that Jon is not at work by 11 a.m.
Jon Nelson: That is absolutely true.
Hannah Goodin: So, Jon had to tape his interview at home. So, let's hear what he had to say about the big rivalry matchup in South Georgia this Friday.
Jon Nelson: All right, Coach, first and foremost, when you have a week, that is a rivalry game that has uncertainty attached to it. And by that, I mean Mother Nature, who, as we all know, is undefeated. How do you prepare? Trying to figure out maybe two things at once.
Ryan Herring, Pierce County Head Coach: Well, you know, the thing is, is we're going to plan on playing Friday night. You know, and I don't know what the weather will allow or won't allow. But, you know, it's Monday morning. And so, all we're thinking about is Monday's practice, and we're just worried about us getting ready, all our preparation. And, you know, I'm just kind of let Friday take care of Friday. I mean, that's just that's my outlook. I'm not going to sit and worry about the weather and try to get opinions from everybody, especially the Weather Channel, because, on my phone, they're wrong about 65 to 70% of the time. So, know, we're just going to work like the game Friday said sorry not and just you know that's just something else to worry about that we don't need to worry about.
Jon Nelson: So, right now, you've got your first region game under your belt. It was a big win over Brantley County, winning 49 -7. Now that you've had a day or so to kind of look back at it, what are some of your takeaways?
Ryan Herring, Pierce County Head Coach: Well, I thought we came out with a lot of focus on how defensively we've improved, especially on the back end. We've been real suspect on the back end. We were in the previous four games, just communication breakdowns. It's just basic stuff. I thought we got a lot of that corrected. It wasn't perfect by any means, but we improved. I think we improved a lot, and we just got to continue to improve on the back end. I thought would fit the run really well throughout the whole game, you know. So, that's just one of our goals to be able to run the football and to be able to stop the run. And when you can do that, generally you have a chance in most games you play well.
Jon Nelson: And you mentioned the run. I mean, the numbers are staggering. At some points, you get D.J. Bell, who's averaging north of ten yards a carries, almost got 1,000 yards already through only five games. I think he's at 933. Jaquez White's got north of 400. I think that doing the math on him. 27 and 4, 6. You're having me do the math on a show that's got kind of hard. 12 or 13 yards a carry, and then Jimarion Guyton, who is got north of ten yards a carry. You were getting yards in chunks, and you're getting it with depth at running back again.
Ryan Herring, Pierce County Head Coach: It is neat to have three guys that can really run the ball. You know, a lot of people might play three running backs or two running backs, but we've got three guys that are really good athletes, are really good running backs, that are tough, that know their role, you know, and embrace it. And I think that's the big thing is, is, you know, they're not worried if the other ones get the ball or how many times he's getting or how big yards he's getting it. You know, these guys just want to win. When I'm in there, I run the ball. When I'm not in there, I don't run the ball. And you know, because Jimarion and Jaquez, you know, they started in safety and corner for us, so you know they're playing every snap of defense, and if DJ doesn't watch out, he may be playing some defense later on, too.
Jon Nelson: You know, and once again, you look at lower classifications, and you got to have guys who can go both ways for a lot of the games. What have you seen from the, I guess, the constitution of your guys that they have that were with all and that ability to go the full 48 minutes? What's it like having guys that can go the full 48 and a half to go both ways if they need to?
Ryan Herring, Pierce County Head Coach: Well, I'm humbled by some of our guys. We've got guys that are playing almost every snap. We get for linebackers that play on offense, we've got two DBs that are receivers, we've got O-linemen that are D-linemen, you know, we've got guys that are played in a lot of snaps on both sides of the ball, and it's just, you know, it's if we want to win, we're going to have to do that. Wicked, wicked platoon will tune it and, you know, maybe, maybe be 500. I don't you know; I don't know if we'd be 500. But, if we do what we're doing and play kids on both sides, it just gives us a better chance to win more games. My first year here, we tried not to play kids both ways for whatever reason, but ever since, when that season was over, I said, you know what, we're going to play the best guys that we got throughout the game.
Jon Nelson: I guess then a lot of the credit goes to the strength and conditioning program that you have there. So, you have these guys that can do that kind of stuff. And I know that strength and conditioning kind of falls by the wayside. It really doesn't get a whole lot of attention when it comes to the success of a program. Break down for me what that element of your program is and how integral it is for your success.
Ryan Herring, Pierce County Head Coach: Well, you know, we believe that it's the hallmark, the cornerstone of our football program. During the season, we're in the weight room six days a week. We're there Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. We're off on Saturdays. Of course, Fridays it's just a more-it's not a real taxing day. I just want to get blood flow and get a little workout in, you know, so it's not like we're squat and heavy on Fridays. You're made- but, you know, we do it six days a week, and we do it before we practice, or we do, you know, we're going to, you know, it doesn't matter if we're out of school. We're going to meet up here. You know, we're practicing at 10 a.m. We're going to lift at nine. We're always going to get hit the weights before we hit the field. And we try to ingrain that in our kids. You know that this is where it all begins. This gives us a chance. This is how we gain an edge in our football program. And I've got a great job about buying in. And they've done a great job of just working.
Jon Nelson: When you look at your season to date, you know, obviously, we talked about your first game and region play. You handled Jeff Davis. You beat them by 39. You put 56 on the board, beaten Metter, 30 to 7, a very, very tough single-A team out of region 3 in Division 1, Liberty County. You handled them. You put 45 on the board, and then Charlton County, once again, a ranked team in single-A in Division 2. When you look at your non-region, how would you have graded yourself looking back at that? You know, you can go A through F, one through 10, one, two, 100, however. How would you have graded your non-region schedule and your non-region play before you got to play Brantley County last week?
Ryan Herring, Pierce County Head Coach: Well, you know, before the season, I thought every one of those games would be a tough game to win. They would be four-quarter games. And our kids have just done a great job. If you told me we were going to be 5-0 if you'd told me that in July, I mean, I probably would of kissed you. You know, we just had so many new guys. We lost nine starters on defense, you know, and lost some good players on offense. So, if you're telling me we're going to be 5 and 0 in July, I mean, it would have been like winning the lottery, you know, so that that says a lot about our players.
Jon Nelson: I was going to ask you about that because when you have that kind of integration, sometimes it takes a while. Is it still a work in progress, or is it something where you think you're comfortable with where everyone is right now, or is there still work to do?
Ryan Herring, Pierce County Head Coach: I think offensively, we're comfortable where we have people and how they're playing. Not that they don't need to get better and won't get better. I think defensively, we're still, you know, we're still moving forward. It's still a process. You know, we're still trying to progress and get kids to learn exactly what to do, how to do it, you know, because when you've got so many new guys on defense, a lot of times a kid thinks, "Hey, I want to make the tackle." And in our defense, a lot of times its about doing your job, and your job may not entail you making the tackle. It's setting something up, so another guy makes a tackle. So, it's just learning how to be selfless, not worried about maybe where the ball is, and learning where you fit in the puzzle.
Jon Nelson: This week. And one of the reasons that we wanted to dial you up this week is because of the game that's on the board. You have to travel to Baxley to take on Appling County. And it is one of those rivalries, I think, that kind of flies below the radar. I mean, I have heard everything from, yes, it's a blood feud. It is hatred. It is a top rivalry. How would you quantify Appling County versus Pierce County for someone who's never seen it?
Ryan Herring, Pierce County Head Coach: If you haven't been to the game like Friday night, which I don't know what the weather will hold, but, you know, I know two years ago when we're up there. It is 100% stadium-packed. And there are people standing all the way around. I mean, it is truly a packed, packed game. It's, you know, it's not a lot of people there. It seems full. There's standing room only, I mean, only. You know, I haven't been to every big rival game in Georgia, but I promise you, it's in the top ten. The atmosphere at it, the crowd, the intensity. It's a top 10 rival- rivalry in the state of Georgia. I promise, if anybody doesn't believe it, they just need to go Friday night or go any year when we play it's the real deal.
Jon Nelson: And a lot of folks are looking at this one as one of those games that will lend itself to the inside track for, if not number one in the region, but one and two because Vidalia is off to a hot start. Jason Cameron's at 5 and 0. Toombs is at 4 and 1. I mean, this is one of those games that will shape Region 3 AA very, very early in the season.
Ryan Herring, Pierce County Head Coach: Well, it's a big game because it's Appling. It's a rival, but it's a big game because of the regional ramifications. But, you know, a lot of people probably thought it was just going to be us and Appling. You know what I'm telling you with Vidalia, Toombs, and Tattnall. Tattnall's stuff, this year, they got a senior team, so I think you've got five pretty tough teams that are probably some people are going to knock people off, some people are going to maybe steal a win here that people aren't expecting, so it's not like if we beat Appling made it happen, hey, we're going to be region champs. Or if Appling beats us, they're going to be champs. There are going to be a lot more games. And, you know, it's just the way football goes. You know, people are going to beat people because I don't think anybody is just now. Of course, nobody looks like Appling as far as their D-line and O-line as far as being that pretty. But, you know, I think everybody at some point can beat somebody.
Jon Nelson: So then, keys to victory for you. It sounds like. You know that you're going to have to go up against that big front for Appling and try to figure out how to keep them in check.
Ryan Herring, Pierce County Head Coach: Well, they are. They are. There's no AA team in Georgia that's prettier than them on their fronts. I mean, they are just they're big, they're massive, they're pretty, and they know how to play. They play with their hands. They play physically. We got to keep from getting swallowed up on both fronts just because the guys are just so big. I mean, we're 180-pound D-linemen, and they got 280-pound offensive linemen, so when you talk about 100-pound difference, you can just get swallowed up if you don't watch. You know, so we have got to be somehow quick, be tough, you know, and maintain, you know, just maintain what we got to maintain. But because if we get swallowed up, you know, with their backs, I mean, they'll have a field day. We just got to make sure where we're supposed to be. We can't give ground or get knocked off the ball because, I mean, both their fronts are pretty. I mean, they are a pretty football team.
Jon Nelson: Last question for you, and thanks for hanging out with us. It started almost as a tradition last week on the show, and we had we were covering Savannah Christian and Calvary Day, and coach Woodward at Savannah Christian was first, and he's like, okay, I've got a question for Coach Stroud. Can he do, you know; can he tell me what defense he's going to run? And then Coach Stroud was like, okay, then I get to ask Coach Woodward if he's going to run counter. Do you have a question for Coach Mullis here in this podcast that you want him to answer coming up to this week's game?
Ryan Herring, Pierce County Head Coach: Yeah, I just need to know what's going to be your third and short. Well, how are you feeling on third and short when you're on offense? I mean, what are you I don't really care about third, maybe third, and long. Third and short, what's going to be your flavor for Friday night? I just need to go ahead and have that ready.
Jon Nelson: Third and short that will be the question we will ask Coach Mullis, and obviously, he will have a question for you as well. Ryan Herring, the head coach of Pierce County. Big region game coming up against the AAA foe, Appling County. Thanks for hanging out with us on the Football Fridays in Georgia podcast. Be dry, be safe and be well.
Ryan Herring, Pierce County Head Coach: Thank you so much.
Jon Nelson: One coach down, one to go, and we catch up with the team that is going to be the home team in this particular matchup. We travel to Baxley to catch up with Appling County head coach Jordan Mullis.
Hannah Goodin: Hey, coach, thanks for joining us. You're 2 and 1 with wins over Aiken out of South Carolina and Moore Haven out of Florida coming off that win heading into region play. Catch us up on what's been going on this year and how you are feeling about the team.
Jordan Mullis, Appling County Head Coach: We were a little young. Little, little, maybe not. Maybe not. Young is not the right word. But we're pretty inexperienced, had a lot of moving pieces around, and we've been bit pretty hard by the injury bug here. So, we're really with our two off weeks being the way they were this season and play and Pierce, you know, game one of the regions, which I think has been game ten forever.
Jon Nelson: Mm hmm.
Jordan Mullis, Appling County Head Coach: We've actually only played three games, and we're kind of matching up with guys that have played five or six. So, it's almost like we really, we kind of have been stumbling through here, and it's almost October.
Jon Nelson: How hard was it to schedule knowing that you made it to a semifinal last year because you're playing teams? You played more teams out of state than you played teams in-state. How difficult is it for Appling County to schedule games now because of your successes?
Jordan Mullis, Appling County Head Coach: It was extremely difficult. You know, after our first couple of games this year, I'm sure we'll have our phone ringing a little bit more. But, you know, definitely. You know, we had had the Ware game scheduled for game one, and we wanted it. We knew how good they were, and we wanted that to kind of be the test to show us where we needed to go and where we were at and losing that game to the weather deal we had. And then again, like I said, having some guys hurt, we're really, really not sure what kind of team that we have. And I think this team's got it has a long way to go, but it's been really tough too, like I said, get it on track with only three games, two by weeks, a weather cancelation, and then you know, like I said having Pierce so early when usually that's been a game ten we're 9 and 0, and they're 9 and 0. We're eight and one there, you know. It's always been one of that big-time end-of-the-year coup de grace, so to speak. And we're really stumbling into this one after several off weeks and missing the game.
Hannah Goodin: Yeah. I mean, starting off region play with your rival. Tell me, how big of a rivalry is this? And is there something special that you tell your team leading up to this one?
Jordan Mullis, Appling County Head Coach: I think that we have a lot of respect for them. You know, Coach Herring, I considered him a friend. And we talk quite often, not just about football. But, there's no doubt that the Pierce Appling rivalry is deep, and it's old. And really here in recent history, I think that you can see how this rivalry changed and why Pierce is so adamant about, you know, making sure they rub it in all this when they beat us, which they have here pretty recently. But, you know, the thing about it is, is they've invested in their program, they've invested in their facilities, and they have turned that program in from a game where, you know, ten, 15 years ago it was a rivalry game, but it probably was swayed as far as talent and programs go. And I think Pierce has won as many games as anybody in the state in any classification over the last three or four years. And we're trying to get that way as well. So, I think it's always been a big-time rivalry, a big, big Cross County rivalry. But I think the difference now is, is we can legitimately say over the last year or two that we are state championship contenders. And that game has pretty consistently been at least a top 10, if not a top-five matchup.
Jon Nelson: And at the same time, you know, you've mentioned where traditionally this is the game that's at the end of the schedule, determining who's going to be the one seed, determining who's going to be the two seed now that it's the game out of the blocks. I think that in region three this year, I think it's five teams for four spots because it's the two of you. It's Vidalia who's off to a hot start. It's Toombs. And Coach Herring is even mentioned Tattnall County. So, this one is big at the end of the schedule. But now that it's at the beginning of the schedule, it probably means that much more because it sets inside tracks for folks. Yeah.
Jordan Mullis, Appling County Head Coach: Oh, I definitely think that. You know, the region title goes through Pierce. You know you have to they're the big dog. They've won it four or five years in a row, things like I know they've won it the last three years I've been here. So, I think, you know, it sets a pretty clear standard that if you're going to win the region, you got to beat Pierce County, especially with, as I said, I think they're averaging, 12, 13 wins a year over there. So, with that being said, I don't think it matters of when it is. I would have just known what we know now, having the game with Ware canceled, having some injuries, and trying to shuffle some things around over here. I definitely think that we used to complain about playing them week 10, and you know they line up in the wildcard all year, and then we play them, and we get nine different surfaces that they hadn't shown anybody, you know, so we complain about getting them early, and then we get them early, and we're kind of flying around, stumbling around, trying to get our show on track. So, you know, and I've actually spoken with Coach Herring and their athletic director today, Coach Jernigan. And, you know, we're sitting here now playing them in week five, and they're coming out of hurricane hit in about game time. So, it's definitely always interesting with that Pierce. No doubt about it.
Hannah Goodin: Yeah. Before we get to some of the weather questions, I do want to break this one down a little bit. So, they have a powerful run game with D.J. Bell, Jaquez White, and Jimarion Guyton. How do you plan to stop that three-headed monster? And what are your keys to victory in this one?
Jordan Mullis, Appling County Head Coach: I think that. What they do, they do really well. I think they coach it up really well. And I think that those three guys are really, really athletic. I think they have a great vision. I think they're explosive. And I think the most frustrating thing about them is they may only block at a certain or a few certain ways, but especially D.J. He makes it right. You know, they may block lead down to the right. He's cutting it out of the backside because he saw something, and he's athletic enough to see it. So, those guys are great athletes. They have great vision. They play extremely hard-up front and stay attached to blocks. But to say all that is really simple. You got to use your hand. You got to get off blocks and disengage and be able to have, you know, your feet in a good base and secure tackles because those three guys are, again, I think they're all college football players. I think they're extremely athletic, and they're also strong enough to break tackles. But what scares me the worst is D.J.'s ability to throw the ball. D.J. can run the Tebow pass. He can throw fades. He can throw now screens. He can jump over a lineman and throw a backside post while he's getting hit. The guy. The guy. I'll be happy when he graduates. He is that he is one of the best. I don't know how fast he is. I don't know how big it is. I don't know all the measurables that they recruit. But D.J. Bell is he really reminds me of we played Elbert County two years in a row for the region title back in 2013 and 2014. And you'll probably remember a guy by the name of Jakell Green.
Jon Nelson: Yep.
Jordan Mullis, Appling County Head Coach: And D.J. reminds me of Jakell Green. No matter what we did Jakell would always find a way. And D.J., D.J. reminds me of one of those players he is going to do everything in his power to find a way. You don't matter if a guy not blocked or if he's got to jump over and run over and juke him and the ability to do what they do and do it over and over and over again, and those guys play through injury and not get banged up, you know, is definitely they got something going on.
Jon Nelson: So, then we've started something here on the podcast, and it kind of started organically this year where coaches are asking the other coaches, when we do these region rivalries or these rivalry games, if there's a question that a coach has for the opposing coach, they ask it on the show.
Hannah Goodin: Because we have him on the podcast before.
Jon Nelson: Yeah, because Ryan was on before you this week. And so his question for you about this game, he wants to know what you're going to do on third and short. Do you have a question in return for him about what his plans are?
Jordan Mullis, Appling County Head Coach: For the game?
Jon Nelson: Yes, for the game. He wants to know for this game what you're going to do on third and short.
Jordan Mullis, Appling County Head Coach: Am I answering his question, or am I asking my question?
Jon Nelson: You.
Jordan Mullis, Appling County Head Coach: Guys, you've opened Pandora's box now. I mean, my first thought, my response to that would be to, my question to him would be, when were we going to meet up and him go buy a silencer? But I guess that's not relevant to football.
Hannah Goodin: No, I don't think so.
Jon Nelson: So, what is your what is your game-related football question for Ryan Herring, considering he wants to know what you're going to do on third and short?
Jordan Mullis, Appling County Head Coach: My game-related question is how many times he's going to bring both ponies and play cover zero?
Jon Nelson: There you go. Okay. So now that when he listens, he will have, he will have that question to answer for you, and you will have the question to answer for him. Now that we've engaged in discussion between coaches about game plans.
Hannah Goodin: I want to know more about the silencer. What are you guys doing?
Jordan Mullis, Appling County Head Coach: It's an inside joke.
Hannah Goodin: Okay, all right. Okay.
Jon Nelson: That's good. Good. Good to know. It's an inside joke. Now that — Now it's — It's inside. But now everybody else knows that it's an inside joke. All right.
Hannah Goodin: So, I want to ask about the weather, too.
Jon Nelson: Go for it. Yeah.
Hannah Goodin: What's the game plan? When are you guys going to make a final decision on if the game is going to go down Friday night or not?
Jordan Mullis, Appling County Head Coach: Well, we try again. You know, I feel like I've got a good relationship with those guys over there. I've talked to their AD. I've talked to Coach Herring this morning. And I know a lot of people have already over across the whole state of Georgia, have moved games to Wednesday and even Thursday. And I've spoken with them and told them that obviously, Friday night probably not going to work out. I mean, if it happens the way they're saying, you know, we may not have power. Y'all remember? Yeah. A few years ago, I we had to play Valdosta on a Saturday night, and our players were without power and water for several days. Not saying it's going to be that. But again, with that being said, our-my bosses, you know, because they have a superintendent, just like I have one of our board office employees are going to meet with the FEMA or EMA or whomever it is at 2:30 today. And instead of it being what Pierce and Appling football coaches want to do, it's probably going to be our superintendent saying this is the best time to play this game. Do you know what I mean?
Jon Nelson: Mm-hmm.
Jordan Mullis, Appling County Head Coach: I think it'll be a little bit out of our control, but, you know, talking to some counties around here, they moved to Wednesday or Thursday, or they're going to there's been, I guess, in the last few hours, there are some things about this thing maybe getting here a little faster than normal. So, there are some teams already talking about playing Saturday evening as well.
Jon Nelson: Well, Coach, just be safe. Be well. We know that this is a rivalry game. It means a lot to both counties in the communities of Blackshear and Baxley. Thanks for hanging out with us and pulling back the curtain on a big region rivalry down there in region 3AAA. Thanks for being with us here on the Football Fridays in Georgia podcast. Be safe. We'll catch up soon.
Jordan Mullis, Appling County Head Coach: Yes, sir. Appreciate y'all.
Hannah Goodin: So, Coach Mullis and Coach Herring are big hunting buddies, I guess.
Jon Nelson: I think so, yeah. Maybe it has to do with the train whistle because when Pierce won in 2020, you remember on the sidelines at Georgia State where they had the full 360 train whistle, which was one of the coolest things ever. I'm surprised that they got it into the building in the first place.
Hannah Goodin: About to say, is that allowed?
Jon Nelson: Hey, well, what? You asked for forgiveness later instead of permission first, right?
Hannah Goodin: So, we're looking for a silencer on the. Just.
Jon Nelson: Just, Just, put a big.
Hannah Goodin: Train Whistle. Put a big —
Jon Nelson: Just put a big curtain over that 360-train whistle that's got like a dozen different train whistles on it. And when they score, you get the fweeet you know, you get that. I think just put a silencer over that whole thing. Put a blanket over the big thing that they have, the 360 stands that they have with all the train whistles down there in Blackshear.
Hannah Goodin: I like it. I like that theory.
Jon Nelson: Okay. Sounds good.
Hannah Goodin: We're going to go with that.
Jon Nelson: Sure.
Hannah Goodin: So, that's a big South Georgia rivalry. Let's head back up north. Calhoun at Cartersville is our game of the week at Weinman Stadium. Cartersville is the No. 1 team in the 5A GPB Sports poll. This should be a really good matchup, weather permitting.
Jon Nelson: Yeah, we've had Calhoun and Cartersville on our air as a playoff game in years past, and so now that we get to have them on in the regular season, two great football towns in Calhoun and Cartersville and, you know, looking forward to seeing how this one goes. Calhoun ranked depending on the poll and top 10 and classification as well. And Cartersville has been at the top of the ladder for most of the season. But once again, a reminder, if your team if your favorite team has a time change, a date change, or a date change, let us know on our social media platforms. So, that way, we can sit there and let the rest of the state know what you guys know, so we can keep everybody up to date and keep everybody as safe as possible. But yeah, Football Fridays in Georgia is our game of the week over the air. GPB is Calhoun and Cartersville. Our web game is a Border War rivalry game, Blessed Trinity and Roswell. We are looking forward to that one on the web at GPB, dot org.
Hannah Goodin: Yeah, that's going to be a really fun one.
Jon Nelson: Get out your three iron or your three hybrids, and you ought to be able to hit one campus from the other with your tee shot.
Hannah Goodin: That's my old stomping ground. Well, Lassiter, but the Roswell area.
Jon Nelson: Yeah, the one the whole Cambridge loop. You sit there, and you just go from one end to the other, and then that way, you get to sit there and stay in the region. So well — since since you mentioned your old stomping grounds.
Hannah Goodin: Speaking of Lassiter. Speaking of Lassiter.
Jon Nelson: Here it comes.
Hannah Goodin: Well, we were off, but we play Johns Creek next week.
Jon Nelson: Mm-hmm.
Hannah Goodin: Trojans are 2 and 2.
Jon Nelson: Yes.
Hannah Goodin: Lakeside got a big boo boo lost to Dunwoody, 30 to 0.
Jon Nelson: Got a big boo boo?
Hannah Goodin: A big boo boo.
Jon Nelson: She really likes to sit there and just make fun of Lakeside.
Hannah Goodin: I do not. Head coach Morris Starr and I are like this. We are buddies.
Jon Nelson: But Lakeside had a big boo boo, apparently.
Hannah Goodin: They just like to poke fun at you, Jon.
Jon Nelson: So, would you like to send Coach Starr a Band-Aid for his big boo boo?
Hannah Goodin: No, I would not. Coach Starr is the best. So, Decatur was off. They'll play in Tucker next week.
Jon Nelson: She completely and totally just sprints past that topic. So. Yeah, well, so what's up with Commander Sandy?
Sandy Malcolm: Decatur was off, so a good week.
Jon Nelson: There you go. Yeah. Didn't lose.
Hannah Goodin: Yep, yep, yep. All right. No wins. No losses there. Okay. Parkview loses its first game of the year to Mill Creek.
Jon Nelson: Sorry, Snake.
Hannah Goodin: 40-17. They go 4 and 1, though.
Jon Nelson: Yeah. So, I mean, and they're still going to be part of the discussion.
Hannah Goodin: Mill Creek is good.
Jon Nelson: Yes.
Hannah Goodin: So is Parkview.
Jon Nelson: All right. So, who else is left? We got King James and Ambassador Jeremy.
Hannah Goodin: Central Macon won its first game. Woo, woo.
Jon Nelson: There you go, King James. Chargers get the win. Nicely done.
Hannah Goodin: 27-21 over Kendrick. 1 and 4.
Jon Nelson: See, he celebrated with the whip pan switch that's the way to celebrate.
Hannah Goodin: He is there.
Jon Nelson: So, well, don't look at it because he's celebrating in his own technical way.
Jon Nelson: And so, Ambassador Jeremy in Darlington, what happened there?
Hannah Goodin: Darlington wins again. Beats Dade County 33 to 7 to go 5 and 0. He's winning.
Jon Nelson: Yeah. Yeah. Well, they are ranked in the top 10 in class A. A story that we've been following on Recruiting 2022 involves a former Georgia high school football player. We have the latest on T.A. Cunningham. He's cleared the eligibility issues and can now play in the state of California. So, he has now been cleared to play. He's a Georgia native and moved to play in Southern California to try to take advantage of the NIL rules in the state of California. And he had appealed the initial decision of him not being eligible and was on the sidelines with his teammates at Los Alamitos. And apparently, now with the appeal, he can play for Los Alamitos here for the second half of his junior year there in the CIF southern section. So big news out of Southern California.
Hannah Goodin: We don't have enough time to get into that story. But everybody Google that. Yeah. So, a wild one. Yeah. All right, Jon, wrap us up, and we have something to leave you with. Some food for thought. Some homework. Some homework.
Jon Nelson: We have homework.
Hannah Goodin: No, not us. Our listeners.
Jon Nelson: The listeners have homework. What?
Hannah Goodin: So, you're looking to me so confused.
Jon Nelson: I am like, what's the homework?
Hannah Goodin: Just talked about this.
Jon Nelson: Oh, just making sure that —
Hannah Goodin: Okay, so if you like us.
Jon Nelson: Oh, that. Yeah.
Hannah Goodin: But, if you don't like us, just don't rate us then. Yeah, but we need some. We need some more ratings. You know, if you're a fan of the podcast, leave us. Leave us a review. Leave us a nice rating. You know, Jon is sensitive. So don't be too mean to him.
Jon Nelson: So, yes, the bottom line is, if you would be so kind, leave a rating and a comment on the positive side for us here at the Football Fridays in Georgia podcast because we love to hear what you say. We love to hear what you guys are thinking every single week. But yeah, go, go and leave us like a nine-star rating, if you would. That be epic.
Hannah Goodin: That's a much better way to put it. Thank you, Jon.
Jon Nelson: Yeah, a nine-star rating, even if the only top is five. If you can, like, put nine.
Hannah Goodin: Why not 10?
Jon Nelson: Well, because you can only go through five.
Hannah Goodin: I know, but where did you get nine from?
Jon Nelson: It was just a random number that popped into my head.
Hannah Goodin: Wrap this up, Jon.
Jon Nelson: I can do that. Once again. Football Fridays in Georgia, Calhoun, and Cartersville and 7:00 Recruiting 2020 to kick off a little after 7:30. The web game: Blessed Trinity and Roswell this week, GPB.org. Thanks again for a great Region 3 AA matchup with Jordan Mullis of Appling County and Ryan Herring of Pierce County. Everybody be safe this week; enjoy your high school football teams all around the state of Georgia. We'll be back for everybody here this week. It is Jake the Snake, for King James, Commander Sandy, and Ambassador Jeremy, and for Hannah, who's stealing all of my paper. I'm just Jon. Play it safe, everybody. Enjoy your games.