It was a good night to be a Baldwin Brave.
Head coach Jesse Hicks and his team (3-1 region, 4-6 overall) took care of business Friday against Region 3-4A foe Cross Creek High School (0-4 region, 2-8 overall) as they carried a 41-0 lead into halftime and made it stick through the second half that featured a running clock.
“That’s what we wanted to do,” Hicks said. “We felt like we should have been able to get up on these guys and hopefully give a lot of our guys a chance to play and that’s what happened. I’m really proud of the way our team came out and played, not just on offense and defense, but also Lucas (Webb, the team’s kicker/punter) did a good job special teams wise.”
Webb, the two-time defending Region 3-4A Special Teams Player of the Year, went 5-for-6 on extra points Friday night, his lone miss coming when he was forced to kick in a hurry due to players running on the field late. He boomed kickoffs deep all night long and also pinned the visiting Razorbacks down on their own 6-yard line with a beautiful punt in the first half.
The Braves were firing on all cylinder from the start. They received the opening kickoff and engineered a three-minute, 48-yard drive capped off by a Gerald Kilgore pass to freshman wideout Shatavious Hogan on a slant that was there all night if Baldwin wanted it. The initial score marked the first of what would be three Kilgore-Hogan touchdown connections Friday, the second coming on a similar route while the third was a no-contest fade Hogan hauled in with ease.
The Baldwin defense got in on the scoring action its very first time out on the field as well. Sophomore defensive back Kirtavious Hightower snatched a Cross Creek pass out of the air and took it back more than 50 yards up the home sideline for his team’s second score of the night. Hightower would go on to produce another big play in the second quarter, this time on special teams. He picked up a Razorback punt and followed his convoy of blockers again more than half the length of the field for a touchdown that widened the game’s margin to 27-0. On the ensuing Cross Creek drive the visitors attempted an option to the left, but the pitch was wild and grabbed off the turf by Michael Jones who also found the end zone. The Razorbacks had three first-half turnovers, and all of them turned into points for BHS either directly via defensive touchdown or through the offense’s gifted possession.
The loss brings an end to Cross Creek’s football season as they are the only Region 3-4A team to be left out of the Class 4A state playoffs.
Baldwin finishes the 2019 regular season in a three-way tie with Burke County and Thomson for first place in region, but the Bears have been granted the region championship through the head-to-head point differential tiebreaker. Thomson takes the second seed having beaten the Braves in the regular season, meaning Baldwin has to travel to Cairo for the first round of the state playoffs. The Syrupmakers, Cairo’s mascot, are located way down in southwest Georgia, so Coach Hicks and his crew are in for a long road trip next week. Cairo was 7-2 entering its final game of the regular season and finished as Region 1-4A runner-up behind Carver-Columbus.
Baldwin’s Coach Hicks is glad to have his team entering the postseason on a high note.
“We actually are playing real good right now,” he said following Friday’s win. “The guys are playing hard and playing together, which is what you really want to see this time of year.”