2018-11-07 / Sports

Bears to host state playoffs

For the 12th straight season, Eric Parker has led his Bears to the first round of the Georgia High School Association’s football playoffs. Whether they can advance beyond that first step will depend on their performance this Friday, Nov. 9, against Howard High School of Macon.

As the third seed of Region 2-AAAA, the Huskies will make the trip to the Bear Den for the first meeting between the two schools.

“They look pretty athletic,” Parker said of Howard. “They’ve got good speed, good skill kids. To be honest, they look like they’re a lot like us: a bunch of hard-nosed kids that play hard.”

“Like I told our kids,” he added, “these are the playoffs, all the bad teams have gone home.”

Howard was 3-2 in Region 2 play. They lost to Mary Persons and Upson-Lee, the number one and two seeds, respectively. Mary Persons is a perfect 10-0 headed into the playoffs. Perry High School was the region’s fourth seed.

The Huskies went 6-4 overall; their 10 opponents were a combined 58-42 on the season.

The Bears had a bye week last week, and Parker said the break was a much needed rest for a host of bruised and battered players. Junior running back Leon McGee is still hampered by a lingering ankle sprain. Parker said while he’s not 100 percent, he’ll be ready to go against Howard. Senior Chad Crumbley has participated in some practices but it’s unknown whether he’ll be cleared to play Friday or not. Crumbley missed the last three regular season games with a shoulder injury.

The Bears finish the regular season with a 7-3 overall record and a 3-1 Region 3 record. Their only region loss was to Baldwin by a score of 30-7.

Asked if his team’s progress has matched his expectations from the beginning of the season, Parker admits he wasn’t sure what to expect.

“I knew we’d be playing a lot of kids that haven’t had that much game experience and playing time, so it was going to depend on how they developed. But I knew if we played like we were supposed to, we would be right there in the mix for the region and here we are, the number two seed,” he said.

Baldwin County was the Region 3 champion and number one seed. They’ll face Perry High on Friday. Number three seed Thomson will travel to play the two seed Upson-Lee, in Thomaston, and Richmond Academy, the number four seed, will travel to Forsyth to square off against the undefeated Mary Persons Bulldogs.

If the Bears can advance to the next round, they will face the winner of the Eastside of Covington (Region 4, first seed) and Westover of Albany (Region 1, fourth seed) matchup in the second round on Nov. 16.

Advance tickets for Friday’s game are $8 each and on sale at Burke County High School. Those advance sales will end at 1:30 p.m. Friday afternoon. Ticket purchases must be cash or credit/debit card only. Per GHSA rules, all entrants must have a valid game ticket. Season pass holders must purchase a ticket but may use their reserved parking passes and their reserved seats will be held until half-time.

Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.

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