The dream season of the Heard County Braves ended Friday night after a heart-crushing 52-21 loss versus the Spartans of Greater Atlanta Christian.
The Braves battled hard during the first half holding leads three different times before late in the second quarter when GAC quarterback Rafe Chapple and the high-octane Spartan offense took over the contest.
The Spartans scored 31 unanswered points including shutting out the Braves 24-0 in the second half. The story was a familiar one for Coach Barron and staff falling once again to a deeply talented private metro Atlanta school from Region 6-AA.
In fact, this was the fourth time in the last seven seasons that a Region 6-AA foe has dashed the Brave Nation’s state championship hopes. The second round loss ended what was undoubtedly one of the best seasons in the history of the program.
This year’s squad ties the 2006 team as only the only two teams to finish the regular season undefeated and as the only two owners of 11-game winning streaks. The offense was the most prolific by far in Brave history averaging 43 points per game and topping the 40 mark five times, the 50 mark three times, and the 60 mark once.
“As far as the season goes our kids should be very proud of what they accomplished this year but I think we are all disappointed about tonight you know we just couldn’t seem to get pressure on that quarterback. He was on fire hitting that little hot route. Their quarterback did a great job, their offensive line performed well. It was a tough night for us defensively. We ran into a very well coached football team that executed extremely well. We have got to find some things we can improve on to close the gap at the state level and compete with teams like GAC,” said head coach Tim Barron after the game.
Despite the disappointing outcome, the many Brave fans who packed the home side of Staples Stadium enjoyed a very exciting game in the first half. After taking the opening kick-off at the 22 yard line, junior quarterback Jonathon Hunt led the Braves offense down the field quickly on a four play scoring drive capped by a short touchdown run from Duranta Dunson.
The highlight of the drive was a 47-yard pass completion to senior Damon Pearson. Junior Ta Freeland continued his stand-out play rushing for 137 yards and two touchdowns on just five carries.
Chapple was über efficient in his passing finishing 22 of 26 for 365 yards and three touchdowns while highly recruited senior running back Kyle Scales balanced the attack with 135 yards rushing and four touchdowns.
Spartan head coach Tim Hardy’s offense produced perhaps the most prolific offensive night ever seen by the Braves in the post-season.
As the night progressed the depth of the Spartans took over the game as most of the Braves competed on both sides of the ball while the Spartans trotted out fresher bodies more often. It was a scenario that has become all too familiar for the smaller public schools who have to battle the bigger private schools in the state playoffs.
The Braves have much to be proud of accomplishing arguably the most successful team in school history and the outlook for the future is very bright with only a few starters graduating and a very large upcoming senior class.
The loss of this Senior class will be difficult to overcome, however, in the character and leadership department.
Barron credits the Senior Class of 2013 with a large part of the season’s success. “We didn’t have a big senior class this year in numbers but to a man they were all high character, blue-collar type kids who worked hard and led by example both on and off the field,” stated Barron.
Barron’s biggest losses to graduation on the interior will be lineman and ends Corey Freeman, Cody Stephens, Brandon Wiggins, Hank Barnes, and Dalton Pate.
At the skill positions WR Damon Pearson, LB/RB Qua Reid, LB/WR Dillian Bradley will not return. Other Seniors who also contributed greatly to the program included Christopher Pease, Zane Woods, and Brian Cosper.