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Warriors looking for first quarterfinals bid

White County visits Grady at 7:30 p.m. Friday

POSTED: November 17, 2010 10:03 a.m.

CLEVELAND— It has been a fall of firsts for White County High.

For the first time in school history, the Lady Warriors softball team won a state championship.

The Class AAA title is the first for White County since the girls basketball team of 1981 brought home a state championship and was also the first for coach John Brown in the state of Georgia.

Also for the first time in school history, the Warriors football (9-2) team is in the second round of the Class AAA state playoffs and will face Grady at 7:30 p.m. at Grady Stadium in Atlanta for the right to advance to the quarterfinals.

While White County has been to the state playoffs before, never had the Warriors played host in a first-round game; another first they accomplished last week. Also, this is the first year since 1980 the team has posted nine wins in a season and only the fourth time in school history (1980, 1975, 1972).

“It’s been incredible,” said senior Ashely Lowery. “To be a part of school history like this is amazing, especially in my last year.”

The running back leads the Warriors offense with almost 1,200 yards this season and 11 touchdowns on 172 carries, while at the same time starting at linebacker and averaging double-digit tackles per game.

This is the first season that Lowery has eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark, according to White County coach Tommy Flowers. The Warriors are averaging 26.1 points per game, while giving up 16.8.

“I do whatever I can to help us win and so does everyone else,” Lowery said.

When asked why he has been able to run the ball so well this season, Lowery was quick to point to the offensive line.

“They’ve played real strong this season and just opened up big holes for me,” Lowery said. The senior is committed to play football for the University of Kentucky next season but is not looking ahead to college just yet.

“I’m focused on the playoffs,” Lowery said. “We just want to keep winning.”

If Lowery and the Warriors want to do that, they’ll have to slow down a Grady (10-1) offense that is averaging a little more than 40 points per game.

The Grey Knights are champions of Region 5-AAA and are led by running back Marcus Caffey. The 6-foot-1, 188-pound senior is the “most explosive” Grady player, according to Flowers.

Caffey is the 57th-ranked running back in the class of 2011, according to Scout.com, and is favoring South Carolina as his destination at the next level.

Caffey is joined on offense by wideout/defensive back Damian Swann. The 6-foot-0, 175-pound senior is also a Division-I prospect.

The Grey Knights’ defense is holding opponents to seven points per game and is lead by senior defensive tackle Dijon Elder, who stands 6-foot-2 and weighs 305 pounds.

The offensive and defensive prowess of the Grey Knights was on display last Friday as they beat Gilmer 48-0 in the first round.

“They are big, fast, athletic and dangerous on offense and defense,” Flowers said. “It’ll be a challenge but we have to limit the number of big plays we give up.

“We have to limit the big plays in order to keep it close. And we know how to play in close ball games.”

Of the 11 games played so far this season for White County, nine were decided by two touchdowns or less. That includes the only two losses of the season, both of which came at the hands of Gainesville.

This is Flowers’ first year as a head coach after spending over a decade at Thomas County Central High. As an assistant coach with the Yellow Jackets, Flowers was a part of four state championship teams (1993, 94, 96 and 97) and one state finalist team (2002).

With playoff experience like that, it’s no wonder Flowers was able to fill the void created when former coach Gregg Segraves resigned after the fifth game of the season.

The biggest advantage Flowers believes he gains due to his experience is an understanding that playoff football isn’t predictable.

“I know anything can happen, no matter who is playing. All the numbers don’t always add up in the playoffs,” Flowers said. “Anyone can win and it might as well be us.”

That scrappy attitude is reflected in the quarterback of the Warriors, Cole Segraves.

The sophomore has thrown for 1,326 yards and nine touchdowns on 112-for-191 passing while running an option offense that involves him taking hits on almost every play. Segraves has 737 rushing yards and nine touchdowns and averages 4.2 yards per carry.

The quarterback came up limping in the fourth quarter last week and was virtually nonexistent during White County’s last drive in its 28-20 win over LaGrange in the first round. Every snap of that drive went directly to Lowery, who lined up in a Wildcat formation.

Despite the injury, Flowers said that Segraves will be ready to start on Friday night.

He and his brother Cam, who plays wideout for White County, were not at practice Monday and Tuesday and are not expected back before today or possibly Thursday. They were out of the state to attend a funeral.



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