Class 2A blog: In brief — Bleckley County gearing up for another playoff run

After 2020 quarterfinals finish, Royals are region champs closing on 10-0; Oglethorpe County notches win for record books; Early County player beating cancer

Coming into the season, it was unclear to most outside of Cochran what kind of team the Bleckley County Royals would be. Lineman Amarius Mims, a consensus 5-star tackle rated as one of the country’s best — regardless of position — is now at Georgia. Quarterback Dominic Sasser plays at Carleton.

However, they returned a number of key starters, many of whom were underclassmen thrust into starting roles due to lack of depth and experience on the roster. That team reached the quarterfinals as a No. 4 seed, and now they won’t have to worry about being road warriors for the duration of the playoffs.

On Friday, the No. 3 Royals beat No. 10 Washington County 28-23 on the road to win their first region title in a program that dates to 1977. As the region’s top seed, they’ll host at least the first two rounds, possibly more.

For the Week 10 recap, go here.

If they can beat Southwest (1-5, 1-3) at home on Friday, they’ll be 10-0 for the first time since 1978.

None of the Royals’ success this season is a surprise to coach Von Lassiter, who knew this team would be competitive coming in.

“I thought we could be as good or better (than last year),” said Lassiter, who is 34-18 since taking over in 2017. “Not because (last year’s seniors) weren’t a big loss — they were a huge loss for us — but we’ve got a lot of guys that were sophomores that played last year in a lot of areas. I knew we had a lot of people back on defense, and those guys played as sophomores and they probably shouldn’t have. They should have been playing JV, but they were made to play because we didn’t have anybody and those were the guys for us.

“I thought that experience was going to really help us, and I thought there’d be some close games, and it’s pretty much ended up being exactly what I thought it’d be.”

The Royals play in the 2A’s deepest region — it’s the only with four ranked teams — and their wins over No. 5 Northeast (9-6), No. 9 Dodge County (21-19) and No. 10 Washington County (28-23), were all by less than a touchdown.

“We’ve got a lot of juniors that won the middle school championship and they believe that they can win,” Lassiter said. “We magnify that with the pressure we put on them in the weight room, on the field and in certain areas. So I think they’re built for pressure, always having each other’s back and always keeping it together emotionally.”

Friday’s game against Southwest will be a final tune-up for the playoffs and will have no bearing on the region standings for them. However, ending the regular season 10-0 is a top priority.

“It’s huge,” Lassiter said. “We haven’t tasted defeat in a little while and we don’t want to start now. We want to be playing our best ball when we get to the playoffs. We want to build off of a great victory this week. Then we have an off week to get healthy and take our minds off it a little bit. But let’s get through this week first. It would be huge for our school and our town to go undefeated.”

For more from Lassiter, listen to Episode 36 of The Class 2A Blogcast.

Here are the latest rankings, with each team’s previous ranking and record in parenthesis.

1. (1) Rabun County (8-1)

2. (3) Thomasville (8-1)

3. (4) Bleckley County (9-0)

4. (2) Fitzgerald (7-2)

5. (6) Northeast (6-2)

6. (8) Putnam County (8-0)

7. (9) Haralson County (8-1)

8. (NR) Callaway (5-2)

9. (7) Dodge County (5-3)

10. (10) Washington County (4-3)

In brief:

Region 1:

  • Even with playoff positioning up for grabs in their matchup with Early County, the visiting Cook Hornets allowed for a special moment by letting the Bobcats’ Tyler Wins get one play in on senior night as he recovers from cancer. Cook won 21-18 and are in third place at 5-4, 2-2. Early County (3-5, 1-3) is in a three-way tie with Berrien (3-5, 1-3) and Worth County (4-5, 1-3) for the fourth and final playoff spot.
  • Early County Joel Harvin recently spoke with WALB for a segment on the Bobcats.
  • WALB also recently profiled EJ Lightsey and the Fitzgerald Purple Hurricane.
  • Check out this Thomasville hype video.
  • Thomasville coach Zach Grage was recently featured in GHSF Daily’s “4 questions with...

Region 2:

  • WJCL has highlights from the Toombs County Bulldogs’ 21-19 win over the Vidalia Indians. The Bulldogs (4-4, 2-1) are in third place, while Vidalia (2-6, 1-2) is tied with East Laurens (5-3, 1-2) for fourth place, but holds the tiebreaker after beating the Falcons earlier. If their struggles continue, the Indians could miss out on the playoffs for the first time since 2011.

Region 3:

  • Class of 2021 Bleckley County 5-star and current Georgia lineman Amarius Mims was on hand for the Royals’ win over Washington County.

Region 4:

  • The Oglethorpe County Patriots beat Glenn Hills 61-7, improving to 3-5, 3-2 and moving into a tie with the Laney Wildcats (5-3, 3-2) for the fourth and final playoff spot. Their point total tied the school record set in 1998, when they beat Pike County 61-0. The Patriots travel to Laney this week.

Region 5:

  • DJ Coffman of Team FYN Sports covered Haralson County’s 21-0 win over Heard County and interviewed Rebels coach Scott Peavey after the game. The Rebels (8-1, 3-0) will clinch Region 5 this week while on bye if Heard County (4-4, 1-1) beats Bremen (5-3, 1-1).

Region 6:

  • The Columbia Eagles lost 16-0 to Lovett to fall to 7-2, 6-1 but can still win region if they beat South Atlanta (7-1, 6-0) on Nov. 5. The Eagles are on bye this week.
  • The Hornets beat McNair 62-6 on Thursday, with Keyjaun Brown rushing for 217 yards and five touchdowns on 14 carries. The Hornets set a season-high for points scored in a game, besting their previous high in a 60-30 win against 5A’s Mundy’s Mill on Sept. 10. The Hornets are averaging 41.5 points a game.
  • Pace Academy’s Terrence Keil was mic’d up for the Knights’ Oct. 15 matchup against Therrell and made a spectacular one-handed catch. The Knights won that game 62-0 and beat Towers 31-0 last week. They’ll travel to Washington (4-3, 2-3) to battle the Bulldogs for the No. 4 seed.

Region 7:

  • Team FYN Sports has a quarter-by-quarter breakdown of the Fannin County Rebels’ 42-7 win over the Chattooga Indians. The Rebels (7-1, 4-0) are well on their way to a second straight region title. They’ll still need to beat the Dade County Wolverines (6-2, 3-1) in their season finale to avoid a three-way tie with them and the Indians (5-3, 4-1), assuming those teams also win their remaining games.
  • Speaking of a three-way tie, here’s the 7-2A tiebreaker procedure, as posted by Region 7AA Sports.
  • Rebels quarterback Seth Reece has been admirable in taking the torch from predecessor Luke Holloway, as his coach Chad Cheatham points out.
  • The Pepperell Dragons notched a 28-22 comeback win over Model, led by workhorse running back DJ Rogers. The Dragons (3-5, 2-2) needed a win to stay in fourth place and keep alive a playoff streak that began in 2015 — coach Rich Hurst’s first season at Pepperell. Game highlights were posted to MaxPreps.

Region 8:

  • Sports Stars of Tomorrow” recently interviewed Rabun County quarterback Gunner Stockton.
  • Stockton is the leading candidate among 2A finalists in the AJC Player of the Year watch.
  • Stockton’s leading receiver, Jaden Gibson, was the first in the state to 1,000 receiving yards this season.

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