DUBLIN, Ga. — The quarterfinals are approaching and two teams out of Laurens County want to create new playoff identities for themselves. West Laurens wants to take the program somewhere it's never been before, the semifinals. Dublin High wants to break a streak of being a casualty to the eventual champions.
Dublin head coach Roger Holmes knows a thing or two about practicing during turkey week. In his 18 years as head coach, the Fighting Irish have made the playoffs 12 times and have six quarterfinal appearances.
"I think in Dublin, Georgia, that's kind of the measure of whether you've had a good season or not, if you can get to this week," Holmes said.
Under Holmes' leadership, the Fighting Irish have had 8 region championships and a state championship, but Holmes said Dublin have an eerily unlucky streak when they lose in the playoffs.
"Out of those years, the team that put us out won the championship five of the years that they put us out, so we're hoping we can get through round three and continue on," Holmes said.
To do that, he'll depend on his playmakers like JaQues Evans, but Evans knows to be playing next week, it'll take everyone on the same page.
"Your playmakers, you got to make your players look like playmakers. Everyone's gotta to come together, we have to come together play as one, play on the same level," Evans said.
Dublin has the benefit of being in the Shamrock Bowl this week, where they've only lost two games in three years.
Just 20 minutes down the road in Dexter, West Laurens prepares for a road game, and Coach Kagan McClain says despite the 11-1 record, they'll be an underdog to two-time defending champions Blessed Trinity.
"I think we should be. Blessed Trinity are the two-time defending state champs. If we want to be in that semifinal game, we've got to beat those guys," McClain said.
A win means the first-ever semifinals appearance at West Laurens. For senior Daniel Dorsey, this season is all about redemption after a disappointing junior year where the Raiders ended 5-5 and 1-4 in region play.
"My senior class came and really changed a lot around. We didn't like that feeling because that was the first time we hadn't made the playoffs in a long time," Dorsey said. "We didn't want to be the senior class that kept that tradition going, so we had to start it back up."
The Raiders are one of the more balanced teams in the league, averaging 200-plus yards both rushing and passing per game. McClain predicted a heavy dose of A.J. Mathis' 2,000 yard arm will be required Friday night.
"Do what we've done all year, find space, make throws, make catches and see what happens," McClain said.
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