The excitement is bigger than it's been in several years at Briarwood Academy. The reason: the Buccaneers have advanced to the second round of the Georgia Independent Schools Association state football playoffs by soundly defeating the Randolph Southern Patriots 49-7 at the Briarwood Field last Friday.
Advancing to the second round of the playoffs holds special meaning for seniors Trey Stadler and Matthew McElveen.
"This is something we've never done since I've been playing varsity football," said Stadler, a college football prospect. "Advancing to the second round of the state playoffs is real special to me. It feels great. It shows what can happen when everybody plays together."
Those sentiments are shared by the team's star running back, Matthew McElveen.
"I've always wanted us to go further into the playoffs and now we've done it," said McElveen, who has rushed for more than 1,400 yards this season. "I think we played four good quarters of football and when you do that, good things come out."
Both players believe the Buccaneers have a chance of winning the Class A state championship. And so do several of their teammates, who spoke to The McDuffie Mirror after the big win over Randolph Southern.
They must get past Terrell Academy -- the defending GISA Class A state champions -- who Briarwood Academy plays this Friday night in Dawson.
"Everybody seems to be playing together and that means a lot now that we're in the playoffs," said junior quarterback Blake Sowell. "I think we have the potential to go all the way, because we're playing so good as a team."
Sowell said that he has grown more confident in his role as the team's quarterback, as well as being one of the team's leaders.
"It's a real exciting time right now," added Sowell, who for the second straight week in the playoffs threw a pair of touchdown passes.
In the game against Randolph Southern, Sowell's TD passes were both caught by senior tight end Saul Smith.
Sophomore Michael Kent is another starting running back and defensive linebacker, who is excited about the Buccaneers' season.
"We're playing real well right now," said Kent, who is now back 100 percent healthy after missing some games early in the season due to a badly sprained right ankle.
"All of us get along real well and I think that's one of the reasons we play so well as a team."
Kent noted that his performance couldn't have been as good as it turned out, offensively, had it not been for the fine blocking he received from the offensive line.
"They did a good job of blocking for me," praised Kent.