The annual game between Twiggs County and Wilkinson County is a matchup that divides families and has special meaning for fans on both sides. But the rivalry has been lessened a bit of late becauses of the struggles of the Cobras’ program.
First-year head coach Ashley Harden already has doubled Twiggs County’s win total from 2014 with a 2-3 record, including 1-0 in GHSA Region 7A-A play, and the promising start has re-energized the intensity ahead of Friday’s game in Jeffersonville.
“We’re only 15 miles apart,” Wilkinson County head coach James Hagins said. “(Players) don’t hate each other, but they’re aggressive when they play each other. They’ve been calling us all week saying we better be ready when they come and everything because they’re going to be sitting and waiting. We’re not taking them light.”
“A lot of our fans and kids are kin to the people in (Wilkinson County),” Harden said. “After you go a certain point in Danville, it turns into Wilkinson County, so there’s Twiggs County and Wilkinson County in the same town. From a football standpoint, I know that our kids haven’t been talking a lot, but they said that there’s been some Facebook talk and all of that stuff. I don’t care about all of that. We just want to play football.”
After a 31-0 loss to Central to open the season, Wilkinson County (4-1, 1-0) has reeled off four consecutive wins, including a 26-0 shutout of Tattnall Square a week ago.
The Warriors employ a spread offense that has been effective in recent weeks, but they could be challenged by Twiggs County. The Cobras run a 3-5 defense, an athletic alignment generally thought of as an answer to wide open offensive attacks.
“They’re very athletic, and they run around,” Harden said. “We can’t let them get loose in the open field. They try to run some quick game stuff and take some shots down the field. I think we can match up well on the perimeter; we just have to stop that inside zone running game.”
Twiggs County, riding a two-game winning streak, chooses to be more conservative when it has the football. The Cobras showcase a wing-T offense and will look to grind it out against an opposition that has surrendered just 18 points in its past three games.
“They’ve got a great running game, but I’m pretty sure that if we play great defense, we can stop them,” Hagins said.
Harden believes it’s imperative for his team to continue limiting mistakes, while Hagins cited the play of his offensive line against a good Twiggs County pass rush as his team’s key to victory.
“When we play each other, you can just throw the records out because we have to play tough and it can go either way,” Hagins said.
“They’re kind of high up in the power rankings, so it’s sort of a statement game, and the kids will be up because of the rivalry,” Harden said. “It would mean a lot to win this game.”