The miraculous ride and journey of the Warren County Screaming Devils came to a screeching end last Friday night way down deep in South Georgia, in the vicinity of Waycross and Valdosta.
The Clinch County Panthers rushed for 362 yards on the ground and scored five consecutive touchdowns in a span of 14 minutes to defeat the Screaming Devils 42-15 in the quarterfinals of the State Class A Playoffs.
"We played a much better team this week. The Panthers were bigger, faster and stronger than we were," Warren County Coach Lee Hutto said. "However, our kids gave a great effort, and they fought to the very end."
This loss concludes a Cinderella year for the Devils, who finish with an 8-5 overall record and a trip to the third round of postseason play after defeating the Bowdon Red Devils 56-24 and the Landmark Christian War Eagles 41-34 in previous playoff games.
"We had a great season with an 8-5 record and a second place finish in the region," Coach Hutto said. "We hosted a state playoff game, the first for our school in about 38 years, and we advanced to the state quarterfinals. My hat goes off to our players and the members of our coaching staff for doing an excellent job all year in game preparation."
And he praised the community for its support of the Devils.
"Our community was behind us 100 percent, and our coaching staff and players were overwhelmed by this tremendous support," he said.
This game with Clinch County was the final gridiron clash for 10 seniors. They are Karvarcea Ivey, Foster Moss, Gary Walker, Maquell Williams, Quadrez Reese, Ivory Story, Quamaine Walker, Curtis Watley, Demetris Harris and Jacobian Blount.
"With our returning players, we will now focus our attention on next season," Coach Hutto said. "We will spend a lot of quality time in the weight room because our players need to get bigger and stronger in order for us to compete on the state level. We will also continue to monitor the academic progress of our players and try to influence more young men to participate in football."
The Panthers used a strong running game that amassed 362 yards on the ground to spoil the hopes and desires of the Screaming Devils. Warren County's explosive offense never did ignite against Clinch County, as the Panther defense held the Devils to only 161 yards rushing.
Devil junior quarterback Tommy Seals was the team's leading rusher with 68 yards on 23 carries. He was followed by Devarrus Reynolds with 47 yards on 12 carries, Quadrez Reese with 27 yards on 10 carries and Kentrell Latimore with 12 yards on five carries.
Going into this game with Clinch County, Warren County's coaching staff knew that the Panthers' offensive attack was going to be led by running back Justin Gainey. And his presence was immediately made known.
Gainey put Clinch County on the scoreboard first with 1:56 left to play in the opening quarter on a 3-yard run.
Warren County tied the score at the 4:25 mark of the second quarter on a 35-yard touchdown pass from Seals to Reese. The PAT by Ivory Story deadlocked the game at 7-7.
Clinch County then scored five unanswered touchdowns by the middle of the fourth quarter, making the score 42-7.
Following a Screaming Devils safety, Devil running back Maquell Williams scored a touchdown from the 1 yard line with only 20 seconds remaining in the game.
Warren County ends the season with two players that eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark in rushing. Quadrez Reese rushed for 1,048 yards, while Tommy Seals gained 1,035 yards.
Warren County 15, Clinch County 42
Star of the game: Senior running back Quadrez Reese became the team's leading rusher for the year, as he finished the season with 1,048 yards on the ground. He narrowly edged teammate Tommy Seals, who finished the season with 1,035 yards rushing. Reese also recorded four 100 yard games and one 200 yard game.
Play of the game: The passing combination of Tommy Seals to Quadrez Reese scored Warren County's first touchdown of the game on a 35-yard pass in the second quarter.