In his first year with the program, Irwin County head coach Buddy Nobles had a quick answer to how he felt about his Friday matchup with Hawkinsville for the GHSA Class A public school championship.
“We are fired up for what we have been able to do this season, and we are extremely blessed to be playing in the state championship game,” said Nobles, who will lead the Indians into their first state championship game since 1997. “The guys have earned this, and we can’t wait for Friday to get here.”
Nobles took over the program after a stint as Fitzgerald’s offensive coordinator. He replaced Jon Lindsey, who left the program after three seasons to take over at Cook.
“Coach Lindsey got this team to the semifinals last year, and we had a lot of returning players, plus we were able to keep all of the coaches from last year except one,” Nobles said. “They ran the wing-T last year, which is what I like to run, and I put my version of it in and a new defense, and everything has clicked.
“We have been able to score points this year, and we have excellent backs, but the key to this football team has been the offensive line. They have just been great for us all year.”
Irwin County will look to Cam Morgan, Rusty Dorman, Ethan Ethridge, Tyler Dorman, Chandler Taylor and Cully Jones to open up holes for a backfield that has run for more than 4,000 yards. Jakyron Young has rushed for 1,563 yards, while fullback Robert Moore has 1,347 yards.
But Nobles is well aware that Hawkinsville wins games on defense. The Red Devils have allowed only 96 points in their 13 games.
“They have an extremely fast defense, kids that can run and play very physical,” Nobles said. “The thing that worries us is that they have only given up about 850 yards of rushing the entire year. That is really an amazing number for the entire year, so it creates a great matchup for a state championship game.”
Nobles said the entire Ocilla community is excited about a trip to the Georgia Dome and a possible state championship.
“I was joking the other day that they might need to bring in the National Guard to watch over the city on Friday,” Nobles said. “You really can’t go anywhere here and not have people talking about Indian football. But this team is extremely focused on the game. We had such a great practice on Monday that I actually cut it short about 10 minutes, because we had done everything that we had wanted to do.
“After practice, I had a few seniors come up to me and told me not to cut anything short for the rest of the week, because they wanted every minute of practice they could get. If I didn’t already know it, that proved to me that these kids are right where they need to be.”