FORT VALLEY -- The eyes of many Middle Georgia high school football observers likely will focus about 20 miles northeast of Fort Valley on Friday night.
Who can blame them?
GHSA Class AAAAAs No. 1 Northside and No. 9 Warner Robins will meet in their annual clash of gridiron titans at McConnell-Talbert Stadium. Middle Georgia has no bigger game annually, and the matchup holds up well against any other rivalry in the state.
Youve probably already read some about the game in The Telegraph this week, and youll see plenty about that game the rest of the week.
One game that isnt receiving the same level of attention is Carver-Columbus trip to Peach County on Friday. The game has the unfortunate circumstance of being scheduled the same night as Northside-Warner Robins, forcing the two biggest games in Middle Georgia this season to share a night.
This achievement, however, deserves its own praise: The Trojans would win their fourth consecutive region championship with a victory. They have gone 28-1 in region play during that stretch with the lone loss coming at West Laurens in 2011.
Class AAAs top-ranked Peach County has been waiting for a challenge for weeks. The Trojans (8-0) have sauntered through their schedule largely untested since a five-point win over Warner Robins on Sept. 14. Theyll get that test and more from the fourth-ranked Tigers, who havent lost since a 33-0 road beating at Colquitt County on the same night as the Peach County-Warner Robins game.
Both Carver and Peach County have similar measurables.
Each team has stomped through Region 2-AAA play. Carver has defeated its four region opponents by a combined score of 184-17, while Peach County has won its four region games by a total of 157-34. They both have standout wide receiver/safeties committed to major college programs, with Peach Countys Demarcus Robinson committed to Clemson and Carvers Marqui Hawkins committed to Florida.
So with similar résumés on display, the Carver-Peach County winner would get the boost of not only a region championship and a No. 1 playoff seed but also the added confidence of vanquishing an elite program. Peach County head coach Chad Campbell and Carver head coach Dell McGee would both agree that a team playing its best football late in the season and gaining a signature win to build confidence off of can be the differences in playing at the Georgia Dome in mid-December or watching those games on television.
Peach County picked up one of those wins in 2009 in Milledgeville, and the Trojans used that road win over Baldwin to catapult them to an undefeated season and a state championship. Last year, the Trojans bounced back from the loss to West Laurens to notch region wins over Mary Persons, Perry and Baldwin on the way to another appearance at the Georgia Dome.
This game wont have the emotional impact of Northside-Warner Robins, nor will the winner gain crosstown bragging rights for the next 365 days. But the Carver-Peach County winner will get just as important of a boost going forward, one which might land a state championship trophy in the winners hands.
Contact Jonathan Heeter at 744-4400 or firstname.lastname@example.org