July 24, 2021

Braves to open Class AA State Playoffs with rare Saturday afternoon game

(Franklin, GA) — The Heard County Braves fell to rival Callaway 30-17 Friday night in Lagrange to bring into clear focus the path for the upcoming GHSA Class AA State Playoffs.

The No. 2 seeded Braves (6-4, 2-2) will host the No. 3 seeded Union County Panthers (4-5, 1-2) from Region 8-AA in a rare Saturday afternoon game at Staples Stadium this week.

The first round contest was originally planned for Friday night, but the GSHA announced Monday morning that due to a shortage of game officials — all Class AA and Class AAAA first round games would be pushed back a day.

The game vs the Panthers will now kick off at 1:00 PM this Saturday afternoon in Franklin.

The winner of Saturday’s first round game will go on to meet either Fannin County (No. 1 seed, Region 7-AA) or Pace Academy (No. 4 seed, Region 6-AA) next week.

The Braves would travel to Fannin County, but would host Pace Academy as the higher seeds earn home field advantage in rounds one through four of state.

Callaway will host Banks County this Saturday. Bremen defeated Haralson County 28-14 Friday night to earn the No. 3 seed in 5-AA. They will travel to Elbert County this week while the Rebels fall to No. 4 and will face a tough challenge at Rabun County in round one.

The Braves got on the board first in Friday’s game after a long run on the first offensive play of the game by Ashton Bonner set up a 35-yeard field goal from senior James Newell.

With the score tied at 3-3 early in the second quarter, Isaiah O’Neal punched it in to give the Braves a 10-3 lead before the Cavs answered to tie it up once again at 10-10 at the half.

A gusty fake punt call by Coach Tim Barron saw the Braves retake the lead at 17-10 after Bonner scampered 81 yards on the direct snap, but it was all Cavs from that point on as they would score the final 20 points of the game to secure the Region 5-AA Championship and the top seed in the playoffs.

Bonner had another big night for the Braves rushing for 185 yards on 20 carries. The senior has carried a big load for the Braves late in the season after a multitude of injuries at the skill positions.

Several Braves had nice games defensively with Chief Borders leading the way with 19 tackles. Skylar Thomas was not far behind with 15 tackles and Nathan McGoran had another big night up front with 11 tackles including three solo efforts.

Tyler Lasseter again finished in double-digits with 10 stops from his linebacker slot. Bonner and O’Neal each recorded eight tackles and senior Leroy Marsh played well with seven stops and two QB hurries.

“I’m super proud of the kids tonight. They played really hard. We have a new season starting with Union County so we just have to put that game behind us. I am excited to go to work and prepare and try to get a win in this first playoff game,” said Barron after Friday night’s loss.

Gates will open at 11:30 AM Saturday in Franklin for the special 1:00 PM kickoff time versus Union County. First round tickets are $8.00 each.

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