The Warren County Screaming Devils are now only two games away from an appearance in the Class A State Championship Game. But Head Coach Lee Hutto will quickly say his team is only preparing for one game at a time.
The Devils defeated the Landmark Christian War Eagles last Friday night in Fairburn in a shootout in the second round of the state playoffs by a 41-34 score. With this win, Warren County will now face the Clinch County Panthers in the Class A quarterfinals this Friday night in Homerville. Game time has been set for 8:00 p.m.
"I am very proud of our team's effort and the fact we are playing in the third round of the state playoffs," Coach Hutto said. "Our football program has not advanced this far in the state playoffs since 1970, when the Devils lost the state championship to Roswell High School."
Making the Elite Eight is the culmination of a lot of hard work by the coaching staff and the players, Coach Hutto said.
"We are very excited about playing Clinch County and looking forward to the opportunity of representing our school, county and city in the quarterfinals of the state playoffs," he said.
Clinch County - the 2002 State Champions - has a 10-2 overall record and an 8-0 undefeated region mark, after capturing the Region 1-A Championship.
"Clinch County will be by far the best team we have faced all season," said Coach Hutto. "The Panthers are the fastest athletic team we have seen all year, and it's going to be a great challenge for our players."
To get to Clinch County, Warren County had to defeat Coach Ken Dallas and the War Eagles of Landmark Christian.
"The Landmark Christian football program is a really great class act. They have a superb coaching staff, and we were very fortunate to win," Coach Hutto said. "The whole team has a lot of character and pride, and Coach Dallas is a good Christian guy."
The first half of the Warren County-Landmark Christian game was a free-for-all, as both teams scored at ease in the opening two quarters. The Screaming Devils scored 13 and 22 points respectively in the first half, while the War Eagles scored 28 points in the two quarters. The score at halftime was 35-28 in Warren County's favor.
The running game was the highlight for both teams in this second round playoff game. Warren County amassed 491 yards on the ground, while Landmark racked up 235 yards rushing. In total offense, the Screaming Devils produced 501 yards, and the War Eagles tallied 430 yards.
Devil junior quarterback Tommy Seals rushed for a season-high 252 yards on 15 carries and scored one touchdown. His longest run was 77 yards. Kentrell Latimore rushed for 129 yards on nine carries and scored two touchdowns, while Quadrez Reese gained 75 yards on 21 carries and scored two times. Devarrus Reynolds scored one touchdown, as he rushed for 35 yards on three attempts.
For the year, Reese now has 1,021 yards rushing and Seals has 967 yards on the ground.
Warren County scored the game's first points at the 8:01 mark of the first quarter on a 2-yard run by Reese. Ivory Story's extra point attempt failed, thus the score became 6-0.
After Landmark Christian scored and took the lead 7-6, Reynolds was able to place Warren County back on top of the scoreboard. With 4:17 remaining in the first quarter, Reynolds scampered 31 yards to put the Devils back in front. Story's PAT made the score 13-7.
The second quarter was a scoring mayhem as both teams scored three touchdowns each, with Warren County scoring 22 points and Landmark Christian 21 points.
Just one minute after the War Eagles regained the lead 14-13 very early in the second quarter, Latimore took a handoff from Seals and raced 27 yards for six points. Story's extra point made the score 20-14 at the 10:48 mark of the second quarter.
A tad over three minutes later, the War Eagles took control of the game again, as they scored the go-ahead touchdown to make the score 21-20 with 7:31 remaining before halftime.
Fifty-two seconds later on Warren County's next possession, Seals called his own number and scampered 50 yards for pay dirt at the 6:39 mark of the second quarter. Story's PAT made the score 27-21.
Just 22 seconds later following a fumble recovery on the ensuing kickoff to the War Eagles, the Screaming Devils took advantage of the Landmark miscue and increased their lead to 35-21. On the first play following the turnover, Latimore took the handoff from Seals and scampered 67 yards for a touchdown. Seals' two point conversion made Warren County's lead 14 points with 6:17 remaining in the first half.
Landmark Christian scored again just before halftime.
The offensive explosion by both teams calmed down in the second half. After 63 points were scored in the first half, only 12 points were scored in the last two quarters, six by each team.
At the 4:32 mark of the third quarter, Reese scored his second touchdown of the game on a one yard run to put the Devils ahead 41-28. Story's extra point failed.
Landmark Christian scored its last touchdown of the game early in the fourth quarter to make the final score 41-34 in Warren County's favor.
Warren County 41, Landmark Christian 34
Star of the game: Devil junior quarterback Tommy Seals rushed for a season-high 252 yards on 15 carries and scored one touchdown. He averaged 16.8 yards per carry, and his longest run was 77 yards.
Play of the game: Warren County recovered a Landmark Christian fumble on a kickoff return that led to a touchdown and placed the Devils two touchdowns ahead in the second quarter.
Up Next: The Screaming Devils will travel to Homerville this Friday night to take on the Clinch County Panthers in the State Class A Quarterfinals. Game time is 8 p.m.