MCDONOUGH, Ga. — Against many odds, the 2020 high school football season kicked off Friday night.
The GMC Prep Bulldogs (0-1) did not make the most of their first opportunity, though, as they opened up against GISA AAA school Creekside Christian Academy on the road. Committing fewer mistakes helped the host Cougars (1-0) enjoy a season-opening 51-0 victory against their GHSA opponent.
The loss was more lopsided than any GMC Prep football suffered last season, and also ended the program’s three-year streak of starting the season with a win. On the flip side, Creekside has already tied its season win total from a year ago as the Cougars finished 2019 just 1-9. It should be noted that Creekside is a very different team from last year as the football program welcomed in seven transfers since that one-win campaign. Their new quarterback and bigger offensive line played big roles in Friday’s dominant decision.
GMC Prep head coach Lee Coleman’s second year at the helm quite literally started off on the wrong foot as Caleb Bush, one of his best players as just a sophomore, suffered an ankle or foot injury the second play of the game and was forced to sit out the rest of the night. Bush missed a lot of last season with a broken collarbone and was looking forward to bouncing back and making an impact at wide receiver as well as in the defensive secondary.
“That hurt in the worst way,” Coleman said losing Bush. “We also struggled to protect on the offensive line. We’ve got some new guys up front, so we’ve just got to get better and go from there. The guys fought hard, though. That’s one thing I can say. We made some plays, and when we had time to throw the ball we actually threw it well. If we can improve protection, I think we’ll be OK.”
Bush’s status moving forward is unknown as he awaits further evaluation.
Friday’s opening period played out very much like the first quarter of a season opener. Possession pinballed back and forth as a muffed punt by Creekside and a GMC fumble bookended an interception thrown by each quarterback. Bulldog Jesse Washington jumped on the Cougar muffed punt to give his team possession down just 7-0 about midway through the first. The teams then traded interceptions before Creekside got its turn at recovering a fumble deep in Bulldog territory. It looked like the early turnover trend would continue as the Cougars fumbled a few plays later, but their junior quarterback Brandon McNeil scooped the football up and outran the GMC defense to the pylon for the score. The ensuing missed extra point put the tally at 13-0 late in the first.
The second quarter was cleaner turnover-wise, but some big plays by the home team pushed the score out of reach for Coleman’s squad. Cougar Anthony Parker Jr. returned a punt 80 yards for six. Later his teammate Wade McCollum would rumble for a 41-yard touchdown on offense before taking a pick-six 75 yards to put his team up 32-0 at the half.
GMC did itself no favors in the third quarter by turning the football over an additional three times. Opportunistic Creekside turned those gifts into 19 more points to surpass the half-century mark before the fourth quarter even began.
GMC Prep will try to clean things up for their home opener on Davenport Field next week. That will be another non-region contest and the program's first against a GHSA opponent this season. Central High School of Talbotton, a member of Region 5-A Public, is set to make the trip to Milledgeville for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.