On Friday, I headed to Anderson Field at Peach County for the first time for a high school football game.
It certainly was worth the wait.
After being in this state for every football season except one since 1993, it’s rare for me to go to a stadium I’ve never been to before. And it’s rare that I’ve seen a game as good as the fans at Anderson Field enjoyed Friday night.
The scoreboard shows that Warner Robins knocked off Peach County 38-35, but no one who got to attend that game — or take part in it — truly lost. Both teams were terrific and fought hard for 48 minutes. Both coaching staffs got the most out of their players, and those players certainly didn’t leave anything out on the field once it was over.
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It was only over when Eli Mashburn nailed a 34-yard field goal on the game’s final play. Mashburn’s “clutch kick,” as Peach County head coach Chad Campbell described it, sent the Demons’ players and fans streaming onto the field to celebrate a huge win.
On the other sideline, the Trojans’ players and fans certainly were disappointed with the outcome. But the Peach County fans and coaches can’t be disappointed with the way the team represented itself for that 48 minutes.
Warner Robins head coach Mike Chastain said the Trojans are going to go a long way this season, and he’s right. Peach County is loaded with talent, and Campbell-coached teams don’t lay down and quit after a tough loss. That coaching staff and that roster are just too talented and determined to let a loss in a great game derail their season.
The Demons, on the other hand, carry plenty of momentum into their bye week, matching last year’s win total with a 3-0 start. Think about that, Warner Robins is 3-0, and two of those wins have come against Northside and Peach County. It’s one of the most impressive starts to the season in the state.
It comes on the heels of one of the most impressive games I’ve seen. Peach County looked dominant early, jumping out to a 10-0 lead. But the Demons responded and fought back to trail 20-14 at the half, showing some true grit and determination.
That’s when the twists and turns of Friday’s masterpiece really began. Warner Robins dominated the third quarter, rolling up more than 200 yards in the quarter and taking a 28-20 lead into the fourth quarter.
In the fourth quarter, Peach County pulled even on a 12-yard touchdown pass from Antonio Gilbert to Chris Gibson and a two-point pass from Gilbert to Trevon Woolfolk early in the quarter. Warner Robins bounced right back as Dylan Fromm hit Marcayll Jones with a 34-yard scoring pass on its next drive with 5:48 to play.
Then the Trojans answered again, scoring on fourth-and-goal — their second fourth-down conversion on the drive — on a tough 1-yard Gibson run with 2:40 to play. The tying touchdown was set up by a beautiful connection from Gilbert to Kearis Jackson down to the 5.
But that was just enough time for Fromm and the Demons’ offense to march right down the field to set up Mashburn’s game-winning kick in a frantic final push.
There were big plays after plays and huge momentum changes, along with clutch performances. If a game has just a couple of those, it’s a really good game. If it has most of them, it’s a terrific game.
If it has all of them? It’s a classic.
And that’s just what Warner Robins-Peach County turned out to be.