GOTW: Crisp County at Brooks County

Every Thursday, Class AA blogger Adam Krohn will preview a game of the week (GOTW).

Crisp County Cougars at Brooks County Trojans
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Veterans Stadium, Quitman
Records, rankings: Crisp County is 4-0 and No. 4 in Class AAA; Brooks County is 4-0 and No. 7 in AA.
Last meeting: Crisp County won 16-14 in 2016.
Things to know: These south Georgia schools, located about 90 miles apart, met for the first time last season. The low-scoring game might be an indicator of what’s to come this week, as both teams have outstanding defenses. Crisp County has allowed 9.0 points per game and recorded shutouts the past two games. Brooks County has given up a Class AA-best 3.5 points per game with four shutouts. The only 14 points the Trojans have allowed came in a 17-14 victory over Clinch County. Brooks County has given up just 390 total yards in five games and held three of five opponents below 50. Both teams also have balanced offenses. Crisp County has passed for 179.3 yards per game and rushed for 144.5. QBs Patrick Felton and Myles Napier are a combined 41-of-84 passing for 711 yards and eight TDs, and Jammie Robinson leads the running game with 364 yards on 49 carries. Brooks County averages 177.4 yards rushing and 167.2 passing. QB Mac Perry is 38-of-67 passing for 576 yards and has run for 186 yards. The workload in the running game has been spread around. Last week, Jonathan White had 69 yards and Ce’Darius Arnold had 58 in a 49-0 victory over Monroe.
Maxwell’s projection: Brooks County by 4
*Game capsule courtesy of GHSFD

If you’re a fan of defense, you probably couldn’t ask for a better Georgia high school football matchup this week than Crisp County at Brooks County.

The Trojans defense — led by senior linebackers Rahjon Holden and Kendrick Wade and senior defensive back Trey Jackson — are giving up a microscopic 3.5 points a game, posting shutouts in three of their first four games. The lone game in which they did surrender points was to Clinch County — the No. 4 team in A-public — in a 17-14 win. They’re coming off back-to-back shutouts over Pierce County and Monroe, outscoring them 80-0.

The Cougars — led by linebackers Quay Walker, an Army All-American selection who is committed to Alabama, and Ahdarrious Gee, committed to South Carolina — are also coming off back-to-back shutouts over Tumer County (27-0) and and Spencer (36-0), though they came three weeks apart due to a bye week, followed by a weather cancellation.

Factor in that last year’s Trojans-Cougars meeting was a low-scoring, 16-14 Cougars win and Friday’s matchup has all the trappings of another defensive battle.

“I think it will be a low-scoring affair,” Cougars coach Brad Harber said. “A 7-6 score or a 17-14 score wouldn’t surprise me. Both clubs are well-coached, the offenses execute fairly well and the defenses are stout. We’re going to have to weather the storm because (the Trojans) are 30-3 at home in the recent history of their program. There’s something about Quitman being a tough place to play.”

As tough as the Trojans’ defense has been, their offense is trending upward as well. Quarterback Mack Perry appears fully recovered from a torn ACL suffered last season, the week before Brooks County played the Cougars. The dual-threat signal caller runs a fast-paced spread offense in which their goal is to snap the ball every 12 seconds, Trojans coach Maurice Freeman said.

“We’ll take what you give us,” said Freeman, who’s in his 10th season back at Brooks County after coaching the Trojans from 1994-97. “We love running the ball and the short-passing game, but we’ll also throw the occasional deep ball.”

Perry relies on running back Jonathan White and receivers Deon Fountain and Kahlid Humphreys. Jacolby Brown also lines up at quarterback occasionally. For the offensive unit, a turning point came in the Clinch County game, which they survived despite three first-quarter interceptions. They haven’t thrown an interception since, and Perry believes his unit is prepared for the toughest defense they’ve face thus far.

After all, the Trojans have had some practice.

“We feel good,” Perry said. “We’re lucky to go against one of the best defenses around every practice. Getting those reps in with the first-team defense makes the game easier.”

The Cougars, meanwhile, haven’t lost a regular season game since Nov. 6, 2015 when Worth County edged them 35-28, capping a second consecutive 3-7 season. They turned the program around last season and won the most games in program history, which dates back to 1957, going 13-1 and reaching the semifinals, which is the furthest into the postseason they’ve ever been. They appear to have picked up where they left off despite handing the keys to a first-time coach in Harber when Shelton Felton bolted for the college ranks at Tennessee-Chattanooga after two seasons.

Harber is no spring chicken, however, and is instead someone who has paid is dues and is now ready to lead his own program after 19 seasons as an assistant.

“It’s kind of weird at this point,” Harber said. “I’m 49 and I’d kind of given up on the dream of being a head coach at this point. I figured I was a little long in the tooth and that it probably wouldn’t happen, and I was fine with that. …But now I’m the poster child for never giving up on your dream. I’m still wrapping my head around it.”

The Cougars still play within a system similar to the one Felton installed. They run a spread offense and a 3-4 defensive scheme and so far the results mirror last year’s run. They use a two-quarterback system of Myles Napier and Patrick Felton, both of whom are dual-threats. Four of five starters return on the offensive line, who pave the way for the quarterbacks and receivers Quay Walker,  TJ Ming, DJ Smith, Tubby Spivy and running back Jammie Robinson, a Division I prospect as a defensive back.

With both teams playing at a high level, home field advantage could go a long way for the Trojans — Maxwell’s projections dub them as a 4-point favorite.

“I expect a fast-paced game and for our guys to do what they’ve worked on all week,” Freeman said. “And I expect to come out with a win.”

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