Clint Morgan is thankful to be working all next week.
Holding practices during what would normally be a week of Thanksgiving vacation was a goal for Morgan, a sign that his team had accomplished what it set out to do in its first season in the GHSA.
That came to fruition Friday night when Tattnall Square beat Pinecrest 23-0 in the first week of the Class A private school playoffs.
“I’m real happy for my boys,” Morgan said. “They’ve really, really played hard. They practiced hard for the last two weeks, and they deserve this. I think Pinecrest brought a great team in here, and they battled us to the end, and I think we kind of just kept fighting and clawing and kind of wore them down.”
The Trojans (10-1) played a complete game on both sides of the ball, boasting 312 total yards of offense while holding the Paladins (7-4) to 251.
Senior quarterback Ian Herndon threw for eight completions on 11 attempts, totaling 91 yards and one touchdown. Running back JJ Battle had 81 yards on five carries, including a 63-yard score in the second quarter that opened up the scoreboard for the Trojans after a scoreless first.
“Defensively, we played great, really good,” Herndon said. “One of our best games, honestly. Offensively, we moved the ball really well. I think we played an all-around good game.”
The win sets up a rematch at Aquinas, which beat St. Francis 42-28 to advance to the quarterfinals. The undefeated defending state champions handed Tattnall its only loss on the year, a 49-21 beating.
Now, after a week off that helped nurse injuries plus the win Friday, the Trojans feel ready.
“We’re a perfect example of how hard it is to beat a team twice in the same year,” Morgan said. “Last year we opened up with a big win against Southland and then turned around and lost to them in the first round of the playoffs.
“It’s really hard to beat a team twice, and I think that our guys are gonna be a little more focused. I think our guys know they have to play harder than they did last time, and a lot of things are in our favor. Hopefully we can go out there and play hard and give it the old college try.”
After taking a 10-0 lead into halftime, Tattnall didn’t score again until the fourth. Herndon found Ahmad Barron along the right side of the field, who ran uncontested for 46 yards.
The final three minutes were chaotic, as Herndon fumbled on the Paladin 40 only to see Christian Rodgers respond by picking off Pinecrest quarterback Ryan McCarthy for the second time. Herndon then ran the ball in from 4 yards out to put the final touch on the scoreboard.