Georgetown coach Bradley Adams’ three-year plan is in full effect.
First, the Bulldogs players – guys who were not used to being in the conversation when it came to region titles – had to buy in. Year two was about building momentum via some victories and even a playoff berth.
Year three, this season, was about being in the mix for a region title.
In many ways, Georgetown’s biggest chance at proving it has got to that point comes Friday night. The Bulldogs head to Region VII-AAA front runner Socastee, and the two squads are currently tied for first place.
“It’s the biggest game that we’ve played here since we’ve been here,” Adams said. “Regardless of what happens, whether we win or we lose, it could still go either way. It’s just the biggest game that we’ve had.
“We’re very upfront. We don’t sugarcoat anything with these kids. They know they’re the underdog. Socastee is the proven winner. They’ve beaten people that we haven’t beat.”
That means, bigger than all the others, Socastee’s win over Myrtle Beach last week.
The Braves handed Myrtle Beach its first region loss since 2008. It knocked the Seahawks off their throne and proved that it could be done.
Even Georgetown quarterback Caleb Hughes said that he was happy for the result upon hearing it on the bus ride home from last week’s win at North Myrtle Beach.
“I was like ‘well, that’s great, we’ve got a chance to win a region championship this year,’” he said. “We were real excited about it. That’s how it was. Somebody, please beat [Myrtle Beach]. We’d like it to be us, but somebody beat them.”
Now, it has happened, and it led Georgetown to Friday night’s game. Win, and the Bulldogs are still in the running for the Region VII-AAA crown. Lose, and they’ll need some help from others, not to mention next week’s game against the Seahawks.
On the line is playoff positioning.
Georgetown (5-2 overall and 2-0 in the region) was in a similar spot last year only to lose its final two regular-season games. It sent the Bulldogs packing for the playoffs as the region’s No. 4 seed.
Avoiding that postseason road game has become a focal point.
“We’ve got to do our assignments so we can get a home game here,” senior tailback Julian Lunsford said. “It’s always hard to go on the road.”
The top two seeds in Region VII-AAA will be playing at home come playoff time. The third seed will hit the road, and the fourth seed will need to qualify as an at-large via a new format that no longer guarantees four spots from each of the state’s four lower-state regions.
That means Friday night’s game is that much more important for Georgetown.
Likewise, Socastee (7-0, 2-0) isn’t taking this game lightly. The Braves understand last week’s win over Myrtle Beach puts them atop the region in terms of viability. That could evaporate in a hurry if it falls short against the Bulldogs.
Georgetown’s 1-2 punch of Hughes (1,071 yards, 10 touchdowns passing) and Lunsford (625 yards, five scores) gives Socastee more than one defensive focus.
“Georgetown’s got a real good football team, and they’ve gotten better every year under Coach Adams,” Braves coach Tim Renfrow said. “I think they’re going to be the most balanced team we’ve played all year. This is the third year starting for [Hughes] and the third year for Lunsford.”
Hughes said he and his teammates don’t want to “overhype” Friday night’s game. He mentioned the fact that a game against Myrtle Beach and the regular-season finale at Wilson are nearly as important.
Still, he’s ready to seize the Bulldogs’ most important game to date.
“We’ve got to get it done,” Hughes said. “We’ve worked really hard for this opportunity, and we can’t let it pass us up.”
Contact IAN GUERIN at firstname.lastname@example.org.