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Football Friday Night: Regular season awards and playoff preview

Who took home our Player of the Year and Coach of the Year awards?

MACON, Ga. — The Georgia high school football regular season is in the books. Marvin, Frank Connor and Justin sat down to talk about the regular season, hand out some awards and preview the playoffs starting this week. 

Darkhorse team to win a state title?

Marvin James: My dark horse team to win a state title are the Perry Panthers, three-time region champs, with back-to-back quarter-final appearances in the playoffs. It’s their time!

Frank Malloy: I’m not sure if Warner Robins qualifies as a dark horse but after getting off to an extremely slow start the Demons appear to have their mojo back.  The offense is clicking – producing big plays and piling up points while the defense is still stout.

Connor Hines: Give me the Perry Panthers! Kevin Smith’s group has been one of our favorites since day 1, and they’ve lived up to the hype. Can’t wait to see what they do this November.

Justin Baxley: Northeast is my pick to win a state title. When this team is click they are one of the best in the state. They already took Fitzgerald down to the wire this season. They can hang with anyone in their classification. They also are battled tested from the last few seasons in the playoff and they have a star running back in Nick Woodford who is likely to carry them to the title. 

Which team should be on upset alert or has best chance to pull an upset?

Marvin: I like the odds of number four seeded Houston county to make some noise coming out of region 1-6A. The team is loaded at 8-2 with only losses to TCC and Lee County, they average scoring more than 40 points a game. They are going to shock a few teams.  

Frank: I like Houston County’s chances to knock off 10-0 Brunswick Friday on the road.  The Bears are in battle tested having played an extremely challenging schedule so the spotlight shouldn’t be too bright.  They also have several prime-time performers on offense who can make things happen in a hurry.

Connor: Houston County has a tall task in front of them heading to Brunswick, but I like the Bears’ chances to pull it off and continue through a loaded 6A bracket.

Justin: I tried to find another game where I could see a big upset and almost went Jones County over Ware County but I just think playing at the Gators home will be simply too much for the Greyhounds to overcome. Instead I will lock my upset special in with the guys and take Houston County. 

Who is your regular season Player of the Year?

Marvin: Regular season player of the year to me is Nick Woodford. Kid has nearly 2300 yards rushing and 37 total touchdowns in limited action. Quite a few games were blowouts where he never saw the fourth quarter and the season opener was only a half which was cut short due to lightning. Huge asset to their program and he’s only a sophomore.

Frank: Perry Quarterback Armar Gordon, Jr has done a masterful job guiding the Perry offense all season long with his arm and his feet.  He is a leader who has gotten better every season and is a big reason why the Panthers have a shot at a state title this season. Honorable Mention: Northeast Running Back Nick Woodford and John Milledge QB/DB Briggs Eady.

Connor: I immediately go to Northeast High School and the Raiders’ running back, Nick Woodford. Northeast’s offense funnels through him, and if the Raiders make a run, he’ll be the reason why. The first kid in Bibb County to reach 2,000 rushing yards since the early 2000s has been so fun to watch all year.

Justin: And I am glad that Frank gave Armar Gordon his flowers because he absolutely deserves them and I came really close to joining him on that pick. But I think I am going to lean toward Woodford as well. I think Perry and Northeast have the best chance to win titles this year in Central Georgia and those two players are at the center of it. For me, Woodford takes the regular-season award after not only being the best running back in the area or classification but he has a legit argument for best in the state as a sophomore. 

Who is your regular season Coach of the Year?

Marvin: So many great displays of coaching here in the area but I’m gonna go with JT Wall just continuing to go about his business and win 47 in a row. He makes it look easy but it surely is not. I don’t care what league you’re in, winning is hard. 

Frank: Perry’s Kevin Smith has done a masterful job of elevating the Panther program to an elite level.  The Panthers were struggling when Smith took over and lacked any type of identity.  He worked hard to change the culture and get his players to buy into  what they could achieve if they believed and worked hard to turn those beliefs into reality

Connor: Simple, it is Kevin Smith, Perry High School. He has the Panthers in a position to go on a title run. 

Justin: Kevin Smith, J.T. Wall and Jeremy Wiggins from Northeast are all strong contenders for the award but let's go with the guy who honestly defied all expectations. Keith Hatcher took ACE from an afterthought to competing for a region title in his first year at head coach. Hatcher is building something special over there and he has a chance to make this into a powerhouse given a few more seasons. 

What was your favorite game or moment from the regular season? 

Marvin: My favorite moment of the regular season was the Houston county - Perry high scoring shootout. Perry led 28-3 at one point in the first only to lose late in the fourth quarter 57-56. What an amazing atmosphere and big win for Hoco’s Jeremy Avery, his first year on the job.

Frank: Watching Westside’s Spoon Risper celebrate the 100th win of his head coaching career with the Seminoles.  The smile on his face and on the the faces of his coaches, players, family and others on the sideline painted a beautiful picture of how much this man means to so many.

Connor: Stratford at Tattnall, October 7. What a thriller this was. Two crosstown rivals going blow for blow, leaving it all out on the field. The Trojans’ Antone Johnson stepped up to make some big plays when he was called on and the TSA boat raced Stratford to a 33-28 win. Some of the best ball I’ve seen in Central Georgia – can’t wait to see what these two can do in the GIAA postseason!

Justin: Lot of great games this season, great plays, great rib rockers but I am going to go with my favorite moment being a part of Football Friday Night. After covering high school football at The Telegraph for more than six years, I came over to 13WMAZ excited to contribute on Friday nights. Frank, Marvin, and Connor instantly welcomed me to the team. It has been a pleasure to work alongside them and I am excited to be here for the homestretch as we enter my favorite time of the year: PLAYOFFS! 


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