By Daniel Shirley
Through my first 16-plus years in this business, I’ve been called quite a few names by angry readers and given a ton of advice by others, some printable and some not.
My favorite was a woman who didn’t like something in the section and told me to get in my car, “get on I-75 and drive north to Canada or south into the Atlantic Ocean, whichever one you choose.” That took some imagination on her part, much more than the typical name-calling or nasty messages left on my voice mail, and it certainly made me laugh.
One thing that was laughable last week was my decision to pick against the Northeast Eagles.
The hype was just too much to ignore. Carver-Columbus, with all its Division I players, was surely going to get the best of Northside. Right? The Eagles had simply lost too many top players from the year before to compete with such a talent-rich team. Right?
Boy, that was off the mark.
Northside and head coach Conrad Nix once again showed just how impressive their program is. The Eagles dominated the highly anticipated matchup early and then held on for an impressive win.
Northside, obviously, has plenty of impressive victories through the years, and there was really no reason to think the Eagles would lose this game. At least, that’s easy to see after the fact.
But it should have been easy to see going into the game. The rest of The Telegraph’s staff picked the game correctly, but for some reason, their boss decided to go with an upset special. That probably won’t be happening again.
It’s hard to see me picking against Northside again in the near future. Sure, the Eagles have a difficult game tonight against Valdosta.
But the Wildcats aren’t what they once were (take it from me after working in Valdosta for three-plus years in the early 1990s and seeing how that program has slid since then), and Northside and Lowndes have taken over as the elite in GHSA Region 1-AAAAA.
The region used to have plenty of balance with Valdosta, Lowndes, Colquitt County, Tift County and Coffee all sharing in the region’s rich history. But recently, Valdosta, Colquitt County and Tift County have dropped some, opening the door for Lowndes and Northside to step into the top spots.
The Vikings and Eagles have done just that. Lowndes has won three state titles since 2004, and Northside won state championships in 2006 and 2007 in Class AAAA. Those two teams appear headed for a showdown in two weeks that could really decide the region championship.
It may also be the only time the rest of this season I break my pledge to not pick against Northside. Lowndes just looks too good to beat. Right? The Vikings are just too talented. Right?
Those same thoughts were running through my head last week against Carver, and we all saw how that worked out.
Contact Daniel Shirley at 744-4227 or firstname.lastname@example.org