Lee Campbell is getting his Peach County defense to put on quite a show in his first season as the Trojans’ defensive coordinator.
The longtime head coach at four Middle Georgia high schools joined his brother, head coach Chad Campbell, on the Peach County staff this season. The Trojans’ defense has found its groove, allowing just three touchdowns since an opening 44-34 loss to Warner Robins.
Peach County, which hasn’t allowed any points at all in the past 10 quarters, travels to Henderson Stadium to take on a surging Central squad looking to crack the top tier of GHSA Region 2-AAA.
“We’re starting to play a little bit better,” Chad Campbell said. “We had some injuries. The last couple of weeks, we finally had 11 playing together. It’s getting people to play what their position is, piecing the puzzle together.
“The players are understanding their assignments a little better. Two seniors started last week. We had a freshman, three sophomores in the secondary. They’re getting a little more game experience, creating turnovers, starting to understand what needs to get done.”
Central (3-2, 2-1 Region 2-AAA) is putting forth one of its strongest teams in nearly two decades and has been a bounce or two away from having a 5-0 start. The team is looking to finish among the top two teams in the region and earn playoff hosting rights, but in order to do that, the Chargers must break through against the two teams that dominated the region a year ago, Peach County and Westside.
Central came close to a statement win two weeks ago, nearly becoming the first Bibb County team to defeat Westside before the Seminoles prevailed in overtime. That leaves Friday’s contest against the defending region champion, an opponent Central has not defeated since the early 1970s.
“Playing Westside as close as we did, now playing Peach, you know you have to beat one,” Central head coach Jesse Hicks said. “It’s clutch time, whether it’s in Macon or on the road. I feel the kids have as good an opportunity as anybody. We’re very evenly matched.”
Central’s offense has been efficient through five games. Quarterback Derrick Evans has yet to throw an interception, racking up 917 yards and 10 touchdowns. Running back Antonio Sanders Jr. has 607 yards and four touchdowns, averaging nearly 6.1 yards per carry.
One of the questions for Central, however, will be scoring against the Peach County defense. The Trojans have shut out the Chargers in four straight meetings, and the last time Central cracked double figures against Peach County was in 2007.
“They have their traditional stout defense,” Hicks said. “They’re not doing anything particularly different. Great pressure with their linebackers. They like to blitz. They play extra hard.”
Peach County (4-1, 3-0) has leaned more on its run game offensively this season, working a rotation of backs in to keep things going.
Senior Tyrique McGhee has run for seven touchdowns, while junior James Jackson is the Trojans’ leading rusher at 281 yards and 8.3 yards per carry.
“We’ve had less production in the passing game right now than in the past,” Chad Campbell said. “We’re starting to play a little better, establishing an identity as to what to do. We’ve been inconsistent throwing, but we’re running decently. We have three or four backs who can something with it. They’re all a little different, that’s something good you can have. One’s a power runner, one’s a slasher, one’s a little bit of both. We’ve got different backs who can help us out.”