For first-year Tattnall Square head coach Chance Jones, the job of bringing the Trojans back to the forefront of GHSA Region 7-1A football couldn’t have gone much easier.
Equipped with a veteran coaching staff that includes two former head coaches and a third who was a varsity boys basketball head coach, as well as a team that has 20 seniors on the roster, Jones and his team breezed through non-region play and beat the four sub-region opponents on the schedule thus far.
Now, for the second time in three seasons, Tattnall sits at 8-0, a win away from reaching the region championship game. A win at Stratford at 7:30 p.m. on Friday puts the Trojans in the title game, played at the Region 7B-1A champion.
“If you’re able to beat Stratford, you’re in it, and if not, you’re probably not in it,” Jones said. “It’s kind of the way it’s going to be.”
The matchup for Tattnall in what is essentially a must-win game isn’t an easy one. Stratford won Region 7A-1A last year and enters the game 6-2, a 21-0 loss at Twiggs County being the only setback for the Eagles in sub-region play. A win over Tattnall gives Stratford a shot at making the championship game, provided the Eagles get some help.
A Wilkinson County victory over Twiggs County would put Stratford in the region title game should the Eagles beat Tattnall. Should both Stratford and Twiggs County win, then there will be a three-way tie between Stratford, Tattnall and Twiggs County. Power rating points will break that tie, with Twiggs County currently leading both Stratford and Tattnall.
According to an unofficial analysis of the power ratings done by The Telegraph, Twiggs County has a 75 percent chance of winning the power rating tiebreaker, while Stratford has a 25 percent chance. The variation comes from the non-region opponents on each team’s schedule and what they do this Friday.
Tattnall and Stratford bring similar offenses and defenses into Friday’s game, which isn’t a surprise since Jones worked for Farriba at Prince Avenue Christian. Both teams make heavy use of the run through misdirection, while both teams have strong defensive fronts with high-end defensive linemen — Christian Rodgers for Tattnall, Tobe Umerah and Jourdain Irvin for Stratford.
Stratford has been forced to rotate its running backs quite a bit this season because of injury, while Ahmad Barron has emerged as Tattnall’s primary back, with plenty of help from others.
“Chance has done a great job with them,” Farriba said. “What they’re doing fits their talent very well. They’re doing all the stuff you have to do to be successful. They’re playing really good on defense, they’re able to run the ball and control the line, and they’ve been solid on special teams. They’re just playing solid football.”
The Region 7B-1A picture became a lot more complicated last week, when Lincoln County and Aquinas, both formerly unbeaten in sub-region play, lost. Those two teams meet Friday in Augusta, while Washington-Wilkes, which shocked Aquinas 43-19 on Friday to move into a three-way tie for first, hosts Warren County.
Lincoln County clinches first place in that sub-region with a win over Aquinas since the Red Devils beat Washington-Wilkes earlier in the season. Aquinas needs a win over Lincoln County and a Washington-Wilkes loss to Warren County to clinch the sub-region for the third straight season, while Washington-Wilkes will finish in first with a win over Warren County and an Aquinas win over Lincoln County.