High School Sports

Improved Dodge County set to visit balanced Westside

Dodge County head coach Rex Hodges knew he would have his hands full once he saw what realignment had in store for his team for the 2014 and 2015 football seasons.

The Indians were slotted in GHSA Region 1-AAA, an expansive, 13-team region ranging from Savannah to near Waycross and back over to Middle Georgia.

Getting to the playoffs? That would be a challenge. Dodge County, which last posted a winning record in 2007, went to the playoffs in 2012 and 2013 with non-winning records, but the Indians were in a five-team region where only one team missed the postseason.

Dodge County rose to the challenge this season, going 8-2 to finish third in its sub-region. The Indians beat Jenkins 31-15 in crossover play last week to get into the Class AAA playoffs, where they will take on Westside on Friday at the Ed DeFore Sports Complex.

“Any time you have 13 teams in a region, you’re probably going to have four or five pretty good teams, and that was the case this year,” Hodges said. “We probably had seven good teams, and eight were 5-5 or better.

“It was a competitive region, but it will step up a notch Friday against Westside.”

Dodge County’s opponent posted its second 9-1 regular-season record in three years this season. Westside finished second to unbeaten Peach County in Region 2-AAA, a region where only three teams finished with winning records, but the Seminoles also have wins over Region 1-AAAAA champion Harris County and Region 2-AAAA champion West Laurens.

Westside, which posted its 17th winning season in 18 years, will be looking to reach the second round for the first time since 2009, the year Spoon Risper took over as the head coach from Robert Davis.

Following a 49-16 loss at Peach County on Oct. 31, Westside bounced back last week with a 49-20 win over Southwest.

“We started out fast,” Risper said of the win over Southwest. “We didn’t start out fast against Peach at all. From here on out, you have to have fast starts to the ballgame in order to give yourself a chance to win.”

Dodge County started off 7-0, but the Indians fell to Cook and Pierce County in back-to-back weeks leading into the crossover week. The Indians ran for 273 yards against Jenkins, with three players scoring on running plays. Dodge County also scored on an interception return.

“They’re simple but effective,” Risper said. “They fly to the football on defense, and they mix it up very well on offense. They’re just very solid on all three phases of the football game.”

Middle Georgia Class AAA playoff capsules

CENTRAL CHARGERS

Record: 5-5; fourth place in Region 2-AAA.

Opponent: Cook, 8-2; first place in Region 1-AAA.

Series record/last meeting: First meeting.

Next up: East Hall or Hart County.

Players to watch for Central: WR/CB Bobby Cummings, Sr.; WR Chris Sparks, Sr.; RB/MLB Antonio Sanders Jr., Soph.; RB Jeremiah Daniels, Jr.; WR Ivory Childers, Jr.; QB Derrick Evans, Jr.; MLB Walter Ford, Jr.

DODGE COUNTY INDIANS

Record: 8-2; third place in Region 1-AAA.

Opponent: Westside, 9-1; second place in Region 2-AAA.

Series record/last meeting: First meeting.

Next up: Franklin County or Jefferson.

Players to watch for Dodge County: QB/CB Landon Martin, Sr.; RB/CB Roscoe Wilcox, Sr.; RB Gerrard Davis, Sr.; TE/DE Justin Peterson, Sr.; FB/MLB Kyle Glover, Jr.

PEACH COUNTY TROJANS

Record: 10-0; first place in Region 2-AAA.

Opponent: Appling County, 7-3; fourth place in Region 1-AAA.

Series record/last meeting: Peach County leads 5-1; Peach County won 37-9 in 1997.

Next up: Elbert County or Lumpkin County.

Players to watch for Peach County: RB Keyshawn Lowe, Sr.; DB/RB Nick Searcy, Sr.; DB/WR Tyrique McGhee, Jr.; DB Sean Freeman Sr.; LB Kyle Nixon, Soph.

WASHINGTON COUNTY GOLDEN HAWKS

Record: 10-0; first place in Region 3-AAA.

Opponent: Jackson-Atlanta, 7-3; fourth place in Region 4-AAA.

Series record/last meeting: First meeting.

Next up: Ringgold or Callaway.

Players to watch for Washington County: DE/TE Logan Hunt, Sr.; LB Stacy Thompson, Sr.; DB/WR Jaquavious Latimer, Sr.; OL Dylan Steadman, Sr.; QB/DB AJ Gray, Sr.

WESTSIDE SEMINOLES

Record: 9-1; second place in Region 2-AAA.

Opponent: Dodge County, 8-2; third place in Region 1-AAA.

Series record/last meeting: First meeting.

Next up: Franklin County or Jefferson.

Players to watch for Westside: QB Marcell Williams, Sr.; RB Cedric Hollingshed, Sr.; RB Donta Pate, Soph.; WR Gerimie Mitchell, Jr.; WR Steve Dolphus, Jr.; OLB Devante Smith, Sr.; OT/DE Abdul Davis, Jr.; PK Blaine Halvorson, Soph.

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