High School Sports

Hawkinsville, Bleckley County set for rivalry matchup

The Hawkinsville Red Devils host the Bleckley County Royals on Friday night in a border rivalry that means a lot to both communities.

This is the third straight year the two programs have met during the regular season after a four-year hiatus. The Royals won last year’s matchup 21-6.

“We had to play a scrimmage for a few years, but it’s good that we’ve got them back on the schedule because it means a lot to everyone in the community,” Bleckley County head coach Tracy White said.

Bleckley County leads the series 20-11 since the school opened in 1977. The Red Devils held the series advantage with Cochran, going 20-7-1 between 1949-76.

“This is a big rivalry game for us that goes way back even beyond the last few years,” Hawkinsville head coach David Daniell said. “Both schools are in small communities, so it’s going to be a rivalry. When this game is played, it doesn’t matter who’s good or who’s bad. You throw all of that out of the window. It’s one of those rivalries that everybody looks forward to.”

Hawkinsville will be making its season debut in 2014, while Bleckley County is looking to clean up some mistakes after a 35-10 loss to Dodge County a week ago. The Royals beat Dodge County 34-13 last season on their way to a 9-3 campaign.

“We got up 10-0, and they started making plays, and we couldn’t get a first down,” White said. “I didn’t think the game was as lopsided as the final score, but they did what they had to do. I hate it that we turned the ball over four times. You’re not going to beat anybody doing that.”

Daniell used the off-week to scout the Royals, and he was impressed with what he saw.

“I saw a big, physical team,” Daniell said. “They’re well-coached. They’re not very complicated. They do what they do, and they do it well. I was very impressed with them.”

Hawkinsville rebounded from its loss to Bleckley County a year in a big way. The Red Devils won four consecutive games to end the regular season before advancing to the GHSA Class A public school semifinals.

“I don’t really know any other way to word it, but I think they’ve got a little swagger back to them after the year they had last year,” White said. “Coach Daniell is a great coach. I consider him a friend, and he’s really got them believing.”