When Peach County head coach Chad Campbell and quarterback Antonio Gilbert sat down to talk about individual goals before the season started, Campbell laid out some numbers that would be very difficult to reach.
“I told him I wanted him to complete 70 percent of his passes and go the entire year without throwing an interception, said Campbell, whose Trojans will be meeting Calhoun for the GHSA 3A state championship at 1 p.m. Friday. “I thought those were attainable goals for him as a senior quarterback. I mean two years ago this kid didn’t know anything about playing quarterback when we threw him out there, but he has made amazing progress and I am very proud of him.”
Gilbert has had that amazing season that Campbell hoped for, completing 69.7 percent of his passes for 3,030 yards and 23 touchdowns with only one interception. “I believe in rounding up numbers so I am going to give him the 70 percent pass completion and the one pass interception was just an ill-advised throw,” Campbell said. “He has accomplished his goals and a lot of colleges like what he is doing. There is just no doubt in my mind he can play college football.”
Gilbert has been even better in the team’s four playoff games, completing almost 76 percent of his passes for 965 yards and no interceptions. He took advantage of Greater Atlanta Christian in the semifinal game, throwing for 326 yards and two scores.
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“We knew after watching film that we could throw against them if we were able to get in the right protection and that’s exactly what we did,” Campbell said. “I felt like we were in control of the game, even though they did score late to make it close. I think Calhoun will focus on stopping the run, but when you get to this point in the season you pretty much have to be able to run and throw. I know that Calhoun has a 3,000 yard passer, too, and we will have to continue to play good, sound defense.”
Peach County has played great defense in the playoffs, giving up only 52 points in the four playoff games. Georgia Tech commit JaQuez Jackson is the leader of the group, averaging 10 tackles per game with 25 tackles for loss, while sophomore Sergio Allen has come on strong and averages nine tackles per game. Defensive back Shamarcus Redding has four interceptions on the year.
Peach County also has another weapon in Mitchell Fineran, who has hit 11-of-17 field goals with a long of 53 and has hit 80 of his 81 extra point attempts.
Campbell has not really had time to think about Friday being the last time on the football field with his seniors. “This is a special group of guys and we knew it when they were sophomore, “Campbell said. “The coaches only have a few more days with these kids and we want them to enjoy the week because it is something special to play in a state championship game. I mean what better way could there be than to end the season playing for a state championship.”