Class 5A blog: Fayette County powers to decide Region 2 title

The Whitewater football team prepares to take the field as part of the Fayette-Coweta Kickoff Classic.
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The Whitewater football team prepares to take the field as part of the Fayette-Coweta Kickoff Classic.

Fans planning to attend the Starr’s Mill-Whitewater game on Friday should get there on time. Anyone arriving 30 minutes late to Wildcat Stadium in Fayetteville could miss the entire first half.

“I told someone the other day we won’t need a postgame meal because the game’s going to be over in an hour-and-a-half,” Starr’s Mill coach Chad Phillips said.

He was only halfway kidding. The showdown for the Region 2 championship features a pair of teams from Fayette County that run the wing-T offense. Like an old-fashioned pitcher’s duel stirs the heart of a baseball purist, a game filled with running does the same for fans of old-school football.

“I joke that we throw the balls on the bus and we throw them off the bus. That’s the only two times we’ll throw it,” Phillips said.

Both teams actually throw the ball more than that – but not by much.

Starr’s Mill (5-2, 3-0) has passed it 53 times for 361 yards; quarterback William Yarbrough has thrown for 177 yards and two touchdowns. But the Panthers make their bones on the ground, where Brandon Mathis (623 yards, nine TDs), Greigh Joseph (475 yards, seven TDs), Andersen Cardoza (228 yards, one TD) and Yarbrough (263 yards, four TDs) move the chains.

Whitewater (7-1, 3-0) has thrown it 54 times for 348 yards and four touchdowns; Austin Williams has thrown four touchdown passes. The Wildcats may more depth at running back. Braxton Mueller (461 yards, five TDs) leads the way, followed by Williams (461 yards, eight TDs), Adeoluwa Erinle (329 yards, four TDs), Dalton Bonner (310 yards, four TDs), Logan Griffin (257 yards, three TDs).

“(The wing-T) just suits the kids in this part of the county,” Phillips said. “We try to limit snaps, play keep-away, grind it out and use the kicking game.”

If Starr’s Mill wins, the Panthers will be on the verge of their sixth straight region title. If Whitewater wins, the Wildcats will be in position to win their first region championship since 2012. Both have already beaten Griffin, the other main contender.

Starr’s Mill has won the last four games against Whitewater, including 42-0 in 2020. Whitewater leads the overall series 8-7.

In other big games this week:

Woodland at Dutchtown: A win by Woodland (4-3, 3-1) would put the Wolfpack in position to win Region 4. Dutchtown (5-2, 4-0) needs a win to set up a showdown with Jones County for the region championship in the season finale. Dutchtown has won the last four meetings and has outscored Woodland 108-17 in those games. Dutchtown won 29-7 in 2020.

Eastside at Jackson County: The winner of the game between Jackson County (4-4, 2-2) and Eastside (4-3, 2-2) will move into a tie for second place in Region 8. A Jackson County win would be No. 300 for coach Rich McWhorter. Eastside leads the series 7-2 and has won the last three – all by shutouts. Eastside won 27-0 in 2020.

Clarke Central at Loganville: Clarke Central (5-2, 5-0) is riding a five-game winning streak and could mathematically clinch Region 8 with a win. Loganville (4-3, 2-2) is one of six teams tied for second place and the Red Devils would lose any tiebreaker involving Eastside or Jackson County. Clarke Central leads the series 14-5 and won 35-19 in 2020.

Veterans at Coffee: Third place is on the line for Region 1 in this contest. Veterans (2-5, 1-0) earned a spot in the playoffs with a win over Wayne County two weeks ago. That ended a four-game losing streak against a very challenging schedule. Coffee (7-1, 1-1) bounced back from its loss to Ware County by beating Wayne County last week. The teams met for the first time a year ago with Coffee winning 45-38.

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