Most rankings had Sandy Creek as a top-5 team in the state for 3A football, with some ranking the Patriots as high as No. 3. Those publications did not have Dawson County ranked in the top 10.
After tonight, the Tigers proved those rankings wrong.
On Friday, Nov. 12, the Dawson County Tigers beat the Sandy Creek Patriots 36-27 to advance to the Sweet 16 of the GHSA 3A football state tournament. This is the fifth year in a row the Tigers have advanced to the second round of the state tournament.
“Nothing sweeter than this,” Tigers head coach Sid Maxwell said after the game. “These boys work hard and come to work. It doesn’t matter who they play, they just come out and do what we ask them to do and execute. Tonight, they came out on top.”
It was the ground attack on offense for the Tigers that set the pace of the game. As a team, the team ran the ball 43 times, opposed to 18 pass attempts. Leading the way was senior Conley Dyer, who carried the ball 23 times for 117 rushing yards. Senior Jackson Grindle complemented Dyer with 17 carries for 42 rushing yards.
Though the Tigers predominantly ran the ball in the winning effort, all the offensive scoring took place through the air. Senior Braedon Hubbard may have only had three catches, but two of them found their way into the end zone.
“I’m ready to travel,” Hubbard said after the game. “That shows you right there, that’s one of the top football teams in the state of Georgia. If we step up and do what we do, we’re going to be completely fine.”
Hubbard led all receivers with 49 yards, but senior Bailey Dameron recorded five catches for 41 yards and sophomore Dominic LeBlanc caught two passes for 48 yards.
Holtzclaw’s third passing touchdown came on a three-yard find to junior Kade Moledor in the back of the end zone. Those three yards officially made Holtzclaw the all-time leading passing yards leader in Dawson County High School history. Holtzclaw said the acknowledgement meant nothing to him, just as long as he and “his buddies” kept the season going tonight.
“It was awesome,” Holtzclaw said. “You grow up playing football together and it’s just a bond that you can’t break. We’re never going to get these memories back.”
The Tigers’ defense cannot be forgotten about after causing three Sandy Creek turnovers in the game. Senior Matt Bennett scooped up a Patriot fumble and ran it in for the Tigers first touchdown of the game and junior Kenny Nelson intercepted the ball twice in the win.
On top of his 48 yards receiving, LeBlanc also connected on all three of his field goal attempts, converting two 40-yard attempts and a 24-yard attempt.
Maxwell said he and his coaching staff did not spend any time throughout the week watching film on who their next opponent might be. After beating Windsor Forest 56-19, the Pierce County Bears will host the Tigers on Friday, Nov. 19. Pierce County High School is around 60 miles west of St. Simons Island.
Next Friday’s game will start at 7:30 p.m.