This time around, they’d like to stay a while.
The Warriors will open the Class AAA state playoffs on Friday as the No. 3 seed from 5-AAA visiting Morgan County, the No. 2 seed from 8-AAA.
It’s the second straight year Gordon Central (8-2) has been in the postseason, the first time since 2004 and 2005 that they’ve done that, and for the second straight year, they’ll open the playoffs on the road. (They lost to North Oconee, 63-6, last year in the first round of the Class AA state playoffs.)
Gordon Central coach Chad Fisher said that being there last year will be a benefit this week.
“I think the fact that we were on the road in the playoffs last year, they have a general idea of what’s expected with travel plans and things of that nature,” said Fisher.
“I think they understand that last year we were excited to get in, but this time around, they want to win some games and be competitive. We’ve just got to go out there and stay focused on our plan and take care of us.”
The Warriors have no easy task in the first round as Morgan County enters the playoffs at 8-2 and winners of their last four games.
“I think they are a really good team and are very well coached,” said Fisher. “They’re just a few breaks away from winning their region. They’re fast and have a lot of really good skill players so we’ve got out for us.
“They create some problems matchup-wise for us so we’ve got to be extremely well-prepared this week.”
Being on the road in the first round is not what Fisher and the Warriors envisioned a few weeks ago, but the 38-35 loss to Adairsville kept them from the opportunity to host their first playoff game in school history. But even after that loss, the Warriors still came out last Friday in a big win at North Murray and got some momentum back before heading into the playoffs.
“It was obviously a big win for us coming off that loss to Adairsville,” said Fisher. “It was a great opportunity to get to 8-2. These kids have worked extremely hard all year, and it was good for us to get back on track after a disappointing loss.”
Gordon Central’s Tyshaun Clemmons was a huge part of the win, having his best game of the season against the Mountaineers. Clemmons, a senior, had six catches for 140 yards and two receiving TDs to go along with 67 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Oh, and he had two interceptions on defense. Not a bad night for the college prospect.
Clemmons and the other playmakers for Gordon Central will need to have a similar type performance if they want to get this playoff win. This will be the last chance to get that elusive playoff win for seniors such as Clemmons, DJ Prather, MJ Reynolds, LaRons Winstons and Bryan Brookshire.
Fisher said the team has to focus on several things on both sides of the ball.
“We have to play great defense against them and get lined up quickly because they run a lot of fast-paced offense,” said Fisher.
“And when we have the ball, we have to hold on to it because we can’t afford turnovers. We have to take what they give us because there will be some opportunities there.”
The Warriors got a little taste of the playoffs last season and still have a bad taste in their mouths after the rough loss to North Oconee.
This year’s first-round opponent will not be as much of a mismatch. Both teams are 8-2 and it should be pretty evenly matched on the field on Friday night.
The Warriors need to be at their best, especially on offense. They have the weapons to have a big night, but at times in crucial games this year, they have struggled to make big-time, game-changing plays.
Morgan County has a lot of talent at the skill positions as well, so this one could produce some fireworks.
Expect a close game. Morgan County’s home-field advantage could play a role in the outcome.
Morgan County 31, Gordon Central 28