The numbers are, naturally, dwindling when it comes to the life of the undefeateds in high school football this season...

We’re now at 31 -- if my math is right, so don’t hold me to it -- when I was scanning the records.

Some of the teams are in their bye weeks after clearing their halfway point. Heck, Early County has already clinched its region title (Class A Division II, Region 1) at 7-0 and only have three non-region games left on their schedule for the regular season...

Sidenote: This is the first time, I can readily think of, that a team front-loaded their season to be done with everything and get to watch everyone else go at each other with a month left in the calendar. It’s a wild look and a tip of the hat to Bobcats’ head coach Joel Harvin and their squad.

First stop this week is Wrightsville and Johnson County.

Head Coach Don Norton is out of the blocks at 6-0 in Region 5-2A having started their region play two weeks ago with a win over GMC Prep. Norton is in his 16th year as head coach and has been in the playoffs their last three seasons running.

I bothered him during lunch ... peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (stellar choice, by the way)

Germivy Tucker, Johnson County

Germivy Tucker, Johnson County

“I felt like if we developed our team chemistry in the summer and could eliminate all the outside noise, we could be OK this season,” Norton admits.

So, if I told you that you would be 6-0 and ranked as high as No. 3 in a poll in the summer?

“I would have laughed at you! We’ve been very fortunate. This group of kids play for each other, and it really has been a fun season so far. This my 31st year in coaching and I have tried to enjoy what’s going on a little more. I am, truly, a worrywart but you look at each week and each play and take them one at a time. I would ‘like’ to say that I’m enjoying it more and I used to never enjoy it.”

Norton also says this year’s group has been a fun group -- and an unselfish group that has scored more than 40 points in half their wins and only giving up a little over ten points a game in the process.

“They, literally, don’t care who gets the ball on offense.”

He gave me a story about “Make That Kid an Offer” nominee Germivy Tucker that personifies the whole thing. Tucker helps out on offense and will tell the coaches that he doesn’t want the play to go to him on occasion.

“He’ll come up to me and say, ‘Coach, let this guy get the ball this time.’ Unselfishness has been our thing. Germivy is so selfless. We’ll call plays and he’ll give suggestions. Germivy will tell me ‘Coach, I want to block on this play.’”

Your lead tailback, who is chasing records on campus, wants other guys to get some reps in-game on offense and Coach Norton says that this kind of collective attitude has separated them from other teams.

Coach Don Norton holds last year's region championship trophy.

Coach Don Norton holds last year's region championship trophy.

Credit: Johnson County Facebook Page

I admit, the conversations Coach Norton and I have had about Germivy go back to Southern Swing last year. He’s not a big soundbite guy when the cameras are on him because he wants to talk about his teammates, the offensive line, and everyone around him that is making the team a success.

“He has the heart of a lion,” Norton says. “He really does. He thinks he’s 6-4 and uses his size as a motivation every game. As a part of this group this season, they all have ‘it.’ Whatever that is, they all have ‘it.’”

There are schools interested in Tucker at the next level -- dating back to last spring. But he’s not 6-4. He’s 5-5, 170.

“He’s all muscle and heart ... absolute class and a team guy.”

This week, Johnson County plays Glascock County in Gibson. The Panthers, coached by alum Chris Kelley, won their first region game since 1995 last week over Twiggs County. Norton has high praise on Kelley- thinking he’ll never get the credit he deserves for having a great scheme and approach. Kelley is in his 21st season on campus and comes in winning two of their last three.


The Swainsboro defense has allowed only 19 points through the first six games.

Credit: Swainsboro Facebook Page

Scott Roberts is in his sixth season as head coach in Swainsboro and coming off a semifinal berth in 2021. Reclassification dropped them from Class 2A to Class A and when I told Norton he was my next phone call.

“Wow, they’ve got a real good team over there...”

Their defense has been insane off their 6-0 start only allowing 19 points in their six wins- and those in only two games --- 12 against ECI and seven against Metter in their season opener. Coach Roberts knew his defense was going to be good, but he also thought they would be good all the way around.

“If you told me we would have been 6-0 in the summer, I wouldn’t have been that surprised,” Roberts says. “I just hate that we didn’t get the game with Irwin County official because that was a great challenge for us on the schedule. We had only three seniors last year and once these guys got their confidence, we’re seeing it on the field.”

Swainsboro is in a mini-region (Region 2 Class A Division I) -- only four games with Jefferson County, Bleckley County, Dublin and East Laurens -- so, planning a non-region schedule was as tough as you would think.

“Especially after the year we had last year,” he continues. “There were those common opponents that don’t want to play you and then, you’re looking at those two-hour rides for a game. We were looking at games in Atlanta, even. We didn’t know how we were going to fill it out at first. But we did finally get it done (Metter, Washington County, Jeff Davis, Dodge, ECI and Irwin).”

The biggest worry Roberts has with this start is coming out flat for games after this start. The Tigers love to compete and play with a sense of pride every week out. As a head coach, this is the best defense he has ever had. Going back to his time as an assistant in Bainbridge in 2015 and Cairo with those teams in 2007 and 2008, those were among the best he has ever seen in the overall.

For Roberts, Swainsboro as a community has been fun to see with their support of the program since he has been there.

“After our second year, when we went 9-3, you could see that we were on to something,” he says. “But the COVID season was a miserable one (4-7) and we played a lot of freshmen and sophomores. When you realize the results of that early work, you’re happy to see all their hard work, commitment, and sacrifice on the field and the support in the community.”

This week for Swainsboro is Bin Turner and East Laurens...

“Coach Turner has done a good job and has really improved the program,” Roberts says. “We’re just going to try and control all we can control to get to 2-0 in region. We know they’re going to play really hard and we just need to execute.”

So, we’ll see if these teams will do what they feel they need to do to keep that zero to the right of the dash after this week.

We’ll be watching.

Play it safe, everyone... We’ll see you soon...