Two-time defending region champs visit Danielsville Fri.
For the last two years, the Habersham Central Raiders had the firepower that made them the envy of the region.
During that span, the Mt. Airy school sported a 21-5 record, two region titles (Habersham Central tied with Salem for last year’s crown) and two trips to the state quarterfinals to boot.
But gone now is Habersham Central’s prolific tandem of quarterback Bo Hatchett and his favorite target, receiver Tavarres King (now at UGA), that terrorized region foes.
This Friday, both the Raiders of Madison County and Habersham Central find themselves in a similar state of affairs. Both teams are 2-3 and hoping to make a move in a wild Region 8-AAAA.
“It’s just head-to-head. Very even,” Madison County head coach Randell Owens said of Friday’s match-up.
Habersham Central is still a very good football team in Owens’ eyes, but doesn’t possess the kind of individual fear factor that came with a player like King.
“They don’t have the one key, big-time playmaker that scares the bejezzus out of you, like Tavarres did,” Owens said. “But they’ve still got a repertoire of good high school receivers.”
At quarterback, there’s a similarity between the two clubs, as the Mt. Airy Raiders are breaking in a new signal caller this year, as well. Owens said the quarterback replacing Hatchett is talented, but young and inexperienced.
“He’s going to be a real good one,” Owens said. “He’s been going through some growing pains just like ours.”
But Owens notes that Habersham Central can hurt you with a physical, strong, inside power running game.
“They’ve got a strong off-tackle running game, power running game, inside running game,” Owens said. “And they throw the ball well enough … Defensively, they’re young like we are.”
Much like Madison County did, Habersham Central dominated Winder-Barrow, rolling to a 46-6 win last week.
Meanwhile, Madison County is coming off a tough 21-14 loss to Salem, which the Raiders made rather interesting in the closing moments.
Down 21-7, Madison County recovered a late fumble to stop a long Salem drive, then scored and secured an onside kick before losing.
“Everybody could have shut it down right down there and quit and just bagged it,” Owens said. “But our kids just kept believing.”
Madison County hopes to shake off that loss and end a two-game losing streak Friday. Whichever band of Raiders wins this game moves to 3-3 in a largely unpredictable region.
Speaking of the region, Owens said he’s stopped trying to figure this league out. He noted Clarke Central surviving a marathon five-overtime win over Heritage last Friday as evidence that Region 8-AAAAA is bizarre business.
“I don’t think there’s anything that’s a surprise in this region anymore,” Owens said.