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For Bryan County a region football title is within grasp
BCHS Redskins

The pile of slowly melting ice on about the 30yard line where the Bryan County football team had just held its post-game meeting was symbolic of what had just taken place.

The ice was the residue of a keg of cold water that had minutes before been dumped on Coach Cherard Freeman following the Redskins’ thrilling 21-20 Region 3A-D1 win over Metter last Friday night.

In more than a decade of watching and writing about Bryan County football this writer could not recall when any Bryan County football coach had received a post-game dousing. And, by the expression on Freeman’s face as the cold water hit, he was totally unsuspecting.

It was a moment four years in the making as Bryan County, thanks to a missed Tigers extra point with 20 seconds to play, finds itself in position to win its first ever region championship in football.

To say Friday night’s 7:30 p.m. home game against Screven County will be the biggest in school history is not hyperbole. It’s simply a fact.

Bryan County (6-1, 1-0) will also be playing as a ranked team as it is ranked No. 10 by the AJC this week. It was listed at No. 10 earlier this season— the first time it had ever been ranked—before dropping out following a 16-7 loss at Telfair County.

The Redskins won eight games in 2013 but consecutive mid-season losses to Benedictine and Vidalia relegated them to a third-place region finish. A win in this game would find them needing only a win over either Claxton (2-5) or Savannah High (0-7) to be able to call themselves champions.

“This tells you a lot about these boys and this coaching staff,” Freeman said of the win. “What these boys have put in in the last four years, the hard work, the time… the same for the coaching staff. “This has been a long time coming,” Freeman said. “I’ve never been prouder of a group of boys in 23 years of coaching.”

The win over Metter was Bryan County’s first over the Tigers in 10 years and it came against a team which had dominated the region the last three years.

Metter lost heavily to graduation and also lost its coach, Rodney Garvin, to Vidalia but it still has a core group of excellent athletes. It also landed veteran coach Lee Shaw who built powerhouse programs at Flowery Branch and Rabun County, so it wasn’t a bunch of neophytes the Redskins were facing. The first three drives were vintage Freeman football as befitting of a man who played for Larry Campbell at Lincoln County and Paul Johnson at Georgia Southern: the Redskins controlled the ball for 38 plays to Metter’s 12 in the first half as they built a 21-7 lead. All but four plays were running plays.

“Our offense is our defense,” Freeman said. “The better we play on offense the less our defense has to play.”

Freeman said the win at Metter was the result of a hard summer he and his staff put the Redskins through.

“They wouldn’t quit tonight,” Freeman said. “They fought through the adversity, some penalties the delay (when the lights went out for about an hour) and honestly that comes from the summer.

“Today comes from what we did to them in the summer, giving them adversity, building character, strength, playing with their mind. Making them mentally tough had a lot to do with that.”

Screven’s record (2-4, 0-0) can be misleading. The Gamecocks’ losses have come to teams who are a combined 18-8 and one of their wins is 22-21 over Portal, a team the Redskins had to score against in the final minute to pull out a 22-14 victory.

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