Standing in the way of a third state championship for the Northside Eagles is a Mays Raiders team that has caught fire in the postseason and won three road games along the way to earn its spot in the final.
Mays finished the regular season at 8-2, which was good enough for the third seed out of GHSA Region 6-AAAAA. It pulled off upsets on the road against South Paulding and Ware County before outlasting Jones County in a thriller in the quarterfinals. A 30-15 win over Stockbridge last week sealed the Raiders’ chance to play for a championship.
“The difference from the regular season has been that offensively we’ve played better in the playoffs,” said Mays head coach Corey Jarvis, who is a former Mary Persons assistant. “The offensive line and the quarterback have played real, well and that has had a tremendous effect on the team.”
The Raiders also have been spurred by big plays on special teams. Senior Deparis Carter averages close to 34 yards per kickoff return and leads Mays in all-purpose yards during the playoffs.
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“Carter is probably the MVP of the playoffs for us,” Jarvis said. “He’s ran two kickoffs back for touchdowns and broken like two others to change the momentum of the game. He had one in the Jones County game, one in the Ware County game and then one against Stockbridge that gave us a momentum boost. He’s been catching the ball and making plays at receiver, as well.”
The postseason run, however, has started to take its toll on the health of the Raiders at key positions. Starting strong safety and running back Charlie Patrick will miss the game with torn MCLs. Mays could also be without starting middle linebacker Evan Price, who underwent an MRI Thursday and is questionable. His backup, Brian Jackson, tore his ACL late in the game against Stockbridge after filling in for Price.
“When you play 15 games, you’re pretty banged up, and we’re pretty banged up, I’m not going to lie,” Jarvis said. “We’ve been trying to coach (the middle linebacker) position up this week. We’ve been playing linebacker by committee to be honest. We’ve tried to use some bigger guys, and we’ve tried to use some quicker guys and we also have some young kids who are good as well so we’re using them.”
Despite the injuries, Jarvis says this is a team that is peaking at the right time and playing with confidence.
“The way we’ve won a couple of ballgames this year has been some character building games, and I feel like that’s built our confidence,” Jarvis said. “Our kids have faith and believe in the system that we’ve tried to implement and that’s why we’ve been successful.”