November 21, 2017

Braves take care of business in round one

(Franklin, GA) — Coach Tim Barron characterized the personality of his 2017 football team as business-like several times over the last few weeks of the regular season.

That same steadfast approach and attitude continued at Staples Stadium Friday night where the Braves ran away with an emphatic 42-3 win over the visiting South Atlanta Hornets.

The Brave first team defense again led the way as they did in a similar 42-16 win over the same team to open the season on August 18.

After allowing just 88 total yards in the team’s first win over the Hornets, the Brave first teamers again stifled the Hornet offense this time allowing just 65 yards of total offense through three plus quarters of action.

Junior Andrew Leak earned the B92.1 Country ‘Unsung Hero’ award for the game and with good reason as he again had a solid game on both sides of the ball including a fumble recovery on defense and a touchdown scamper on offense.

Leak crossed the 100 tackle mark for the season and leads the team to this point.

Jaden Moreland entered the night as the Braves all-time interception leader and extended that number to 14 with an electrifying 42-yard pick six to cap the win late in the fourth quarter. Moreland was awarded the ‘Player of the Game’ by B92.

Emory Jones crossed over the 5,000 yard career passing mark in Friday night’s win (Photo: Melanie Boyd/Times-Georgian)

The only points of the night for the Hornets would come in the form of a short field goal late in the contest versus the junior varsity Brave defenders.

Offensively, senior quarterback Emory Jones again proved to be a dual threat completing 9-of-12 passes for 202 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 39 yards on seven carries and another TD on the ground.

Jones’ first completion of the game for 39 yards to Aaron Beasley put the highly-recruited 2018 QB prospect over the 5,000 yard passing milestone for his career, an all-time mark in Heard High history.

The three combined touchdowns give the senior signal caller 56 total for his career, 45 via the pass and 11 via the run.

The D-1 recruit Moreland again had a big game yardage wise with four receptions for 81 yards to give him 1838 receiving yards in his career with 898 coming this season.

Alijah Huzzie was another big target for Jones catching three passes for 68 yards and two TD’s.

Junior Aaron Beasley again topped the 100 yard mark rushing for 116 yards on 11 rushes with a TD, his 28th of 2017.

The win moved the juggernaut Braves to 10-1 on the season and extended the team’s winning streak to nine games with the lone season blemish a slim 17-14 second week loss to Saraland, AL on ESPNU in August.

“You worry anytime you have to go out and play a team twice in a season — you wonder about where your team’s mindset is going to be,” said Barron after the win. “For the guys to keep their heads up and play with the intensity that they had tonight is good. “

“Offensively I thought we came out and executed tonight, and defensively Coach (D.J.) Curbow and coach (Shane) Lasseter put together a good defensive game plan and the kids went out and handled it well,” said Barron.

Although the Braves managed a sizable margin of victory in round one, Coach Barron and staff knows the road to Atlanta will get steeper each week with the competition now pared down to the top 16 teams in the state.

Of major benefit for the Braves (10-1, 5-0) in round two will be again having home field advantage as the Pepperell Dragons (8-3, 6-1) from Region 7-AA come calling this Friday night in Franklin.

The Dragons pounded an over-matched Banks County team from Region 8-AA by a final score of 57-0 Friday night. This will be the first time the Braves have met the Dragons since a 27-14 win over the well-coached Rome area products in 2013.

Barron realizes the Dragons will present a much bigger challenge than any squad the Braves have seen since the Callaway game.

“We watched them on film and they remind me a lot of us,” said Barron Friday night. “They have a real good quarterback who can throw the ball well and a good running back and receivers who can play. I don’t think we’ve played any team from Region 7-AA that wasn’t an extremely physical football team — and that means we have a big challenge ahead of us.”

Barron also believes the Brave Nation fan base could be a vital key to this squad reaching the state quarterfinals for only the second time during his 16-year tenure and what would be only the third time in school history (1990, 2014).

“One thing we have got to get this week is every person in this community coming out to watch and support these kids,” says Barron. “We need every advantage of our home field that we can get which means everyone in our crowd raising cane and having fun.”

The top 10 teams in Class AA have remained remarkably consistent since the early part of the season with very few upsets and that theme rang true in other round one games Friday night.

No. 1 ranked Benedictine cruised over Berrien 56-14 while No. 2 ranked Hapeville Charter moved past fellow Region 5-AA Spencer in a 24-0 shutout.

The Braves would face one of those teams in the Final Four if they can survive the next two weeks.

The winner of Friday’s game between the Braves and Dragons would likely meet No. 3 ranked Thomasville (10-0, 4-0) from Region 1-AA barring any upsets.

The Bulldogs host fourth seeded Jeff Davis tonight for the right to meet Dublin in the sweet 16. Dublin routed Harlem 42-0 in round one last night.

The opposite side of the bracket saw no surprises either in round one action Friday with No. 4 ranked Screven County downing Washington County 42-7, No. 5 Rabun County dominating Chattooga 49-6, and No. 6 ranked Brooks County winning 39-7 over Vidalia.

No. 7 Dodge County defeated 44-8 and No. 9 Callaway beat Douglass, Atl. 28-8.

Region 7-AA’s top seed but unranked Rockmart rolled over Monticello 47-7. No. 10 Toombs County just edged Fitzgerald 34-31.

Due to mini-games played Monday other round one games in addition to Thomasville/Jeff Davis were pushed back to Saturday night including Temple who travels to BEST Academy and Jefferson County who hosts Southwest Macon.

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