Tattnall seniors enjoying bounce-back season
After 11 wins, a region championship and two slugfests with a rival, there’s a sense of accomplishment around the Tattnall Square football program.
A team that went 4-6 last season and went through a coaching change during the offseason, fifth-seeded Tattnall is in the GHSA Class 1A private school quarterfinals for the second time in three years, traveling to face to No. 4 seed Calvary Day at 7:30 p.m on Friday.
While at times early on Tattnall appeared to be the beneficiary of a weak non-region schedule, the Trojans’ performance in region play and in the postseason has shown that the Trojans have earned their spot in the final eight.
“It’s really fantastic,” said Tattnall’s Vasco Sanders, who provided the lead block for Ahmad Barron’s decisive 22-yard touchdown run in last week’s 13-7 win over Stratford and had some critical stops as part of a 14-tackle night on defense. “Coming off a 4-6 season last year to where we are now, with everybody buying in and our new coaching staff and the fans being a big part of everything, it’s just really amazing.”
Tattnall’s victories over Stratford, a Class 1A private semifinalist last year, were hard-hitting affairs in which the Trojans’ defense kept the Eagles from entering the red zone while the Tattnall offense pounced on the scant few openings Stratford’s defense provided.
The victories, a 7-3 decision late in the regular season and last week’s playoff win, likely will be talked about for some time for the competitiveness shown in both contests. But they also helped to prepare the winner for what likely will be another low-scoring game, with Calvary Day not allowing more than 14 points in any of its games this season.
“Stratford has a great team and a great coaching staff,” said Barron, who has rushed for 1,187 yards and 13 touchdowns this season. “We just stuck to the plan and kept on believing, and we came out on top both times.”
Head coach Chance Jones, who used to coach under Stratford head coach Mark Farriba at Prince Avenue Christian, will go up against another veteran head coach with Middle Georgia ties this week.
Rick Tomberlin, who won three state titles in 14 seasons at Washington County before leaving for stints at Valdosta and Effingham County, returned to the head coaching ranks this fall at Calvary Day after a three-year absence.
Tomberlin is 246-118 in 31 seasons as a head coach in Georgia. He and former Warner Robins head coach Bryan Way, now the offensive line coach at Tattnall, split four meetings from 2006-09 when Tomberlin was at Valdosta. Three of those four meetings were decided by seven points or fewer.
“Coach Tomberlin is an awesome coach,” Jones said. “I have not met him yet, but the guys who have met him say he’s an awesome guy. It’s exciting to go up against somebody like that.”
Friday’s winner matches up against the Wesleyan-Eagle’s Landing Christian winner in the semifinals. Top-seeded ELCA had its closest game of the season against eighth-seeded Wesleyan in their regular-season meeting, winning 34-31 on Sept. 30.