Two big firsts in GMC Prep head football coach Lee Coleman’s tenure have come in very unconventional ways.
The first-year head coach’s initial win of his career came in a game shortened due to lightning, and now his first region victory has come via forfeiture. Following an investigation by the GHSA, GMC Prep Region 7-A foe Hancock Central was found to have played an ineligible player in multiple games this season, including its 38-3 win over GMC, forcing the Bulldogs from Sparta to forfeit three of their four 2019 wins. That drops them to 1-8 overall this season, and more importantly 0-7 in region play.
Coleman’s Bulldogs (now 1-5 region, 3-6 overall) are affected by that swing as it changes up their final week of the regular season. Since Region 7-A is divided into sub-regions, like-seeded teams from each side are matched this week for region crossover week. There are an odd number of teams in the entire region, so the last-place team in Division B (GMC Prep’s side) matches up with Region 6, another odd-numbered region. Before the Hancock Central decision was handed down GMC Prep was slated to travel to King’s Ridge Christian in Alpharetta. Now Hancock is the team headed north of Atlanta for region crossover week while the GMC Prep Bulldogs’ path has been diverted to Twiggs County in Jeffersonville.
That’s where Coleman’s team will suit up for the final time this season Friday night as they look to finish the campaign 4-6.
GMC Prep was on a bye last week and had been using the extra time to prepare for King’s Ridge, but having heard whispers of the Hancock Central situation the coaching staff kept an eye on Twiggs County as well. Word officially came down Sunday, so this entire practice week has been spent working on the Cobras.
Once a strong program, Twiggs County has fallen on hard times having not won a football game since 2016. That year was also the program’s only winning season in the last 10 years. It’s been quite the drop-off since the 2000s when the Cobras won three region championships in the first decade of this millennium. They’ve played only three close ballgames in 2019 as opponents have cumulatively outscored them 354-58. Twiggs gave Wilkinson County its only win of this year in a 12-6 decision and lost to Treutlen County by 11 points. Other than those two and the season opener against Toombs County, the Cobras have lost their other games by about 40 points each.
This opponent might be just what a GMC Prep team that hasn’t won on Friday night since mid-September needs. Coach Coleman says that the positive flashes he has seen in prepping for Twiggs have come from their guy under center.
“Offensively their quarterback is an extreme athlete,” Coleman said. “I’ve actually been playing scout team quarterback and running around at practice this week — even though I’m old and out of shape — so our defense can work on staying at home. Their quarterback can run around and make plays in a hurry if he scrambles, which he’s great at doing. He’s their difference-maker.”
Defensively the Cobras line up in a 4-3 and will bring the house on occasion, something they very well might do more as they look for their first win on the last Friday of the regular season. Coleman will lean on senior Armanius White at quarterback with this being his final high school football game. The Bulldogs have had multiple guys go down with season-ending injuries this year, but those who aren’t finished but missed time are expected back this week in the 2019 season finale. Coleman has been impressing upon his guys the importance of finishing up as winners. For the seniors, it’s a chance for them to finish their careers with a win while also being able to say they helped the team finish with one more victory than last year. For the underclassmen, they have the opportunity to build some momentum for the program as it heads into its first full offseason under Coleman.
Friday’s kickoff between GMC Prep and Twiggs County is set for 7:30 p.m. in Jeffersonville.