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Chestatee falls to top-ranked Sandy Creek, 55-7

War Eagles end best season in school history at 9-3

POSTED: November 22, 2013 11:30 p.m.

TYRONE — Chestatee made major strides during its 2013 season, building a campaign that reached historic levels in the program’s short history.

But the season can only last so long.

The War Eagles capped their most successful year to date with a 55-7 loss to top-ranked Sandy Creek in the second round of the Class AAAA state playoffs, ending the team’s first-ever nine-win season and their deepest postseason run.

Chestatee (9-3) struggled to contain the defending state champion Patriots’ explosive offense, while never quite establishing the physical run game that made the War Eagles a threat for most of the year.

But even after their worst loss since 2006, Chestatee coach Stan Luttrell was certainly aware of incredible turnaround his team has experience the past two years. The War Eagles have won 17 games with playoff berths the past two seasons, two more than 2008-2011 combined.

“This group of seniors won eight games as juniors and nine games as seniors,” Luttrell said. “They’ve really done a lot for our program, and we’re really going to hate to see them leave because of the standard they’ve set for us. With them, and of course our coaching staff, we’ve really come a long way.”

If anything, Sandy Creek (10-0-1) proved what kind of potential Chestatee has if it continues its recent climb.

“They definitely are a great team — they’ve been here before,” Luttrell said. “I believe that’s the standard of what a good football team looks like in the state of Georgia.”

The Patriots advanced to the state quarterfinals for fifth consecutive year, and will face Griffin next Friday.

Sandy Creek amassed 352 yards of offense against Chestatee, the most the War Eagles have allowed all season.

Meanwhile, Chestatee’s dynamic running game was limited to just 100 yards, also a season worst.

“We just made too many mistakes early to beat a good team like them,” Luttrell said.

Sandy Creek’s balanced attack frustrated the War Eagles from the get-go. The Patriots jumped out to a 35-7 lead by halftime to enjoy a stress-free second half with a lofty advantage.

The typical cast of standouts anchored their offense once again. Quarterback Cole Garvin, a Marshall commit, was a perfect 9-of-9 passing for 139 yards and two touchdowns.

His top target, Clemson commit Demarre Kitt, caught two passes for 58 yards and a touchdown. He also took a 55-yard punt return to the end zone for a score.

Eric Swinney, Sandy Creek’s 1,000-yard rusher, paced his team’s running game with 106 yards and three touchdowns on just six carries.

All in all, another dominant Friday night for the state champion favorites.

“Things went good for us early. We were able to get on the board and get a couple of touchdowns,” Patriots coach Chip Walker said. “That kind of takes them a little bit out of their comfort zone with what they do on offense.”

Sandy Creek wasted no time getting on the scoreboard as Kitt was quick to demonstrate his athleticism that earned him entry to Clemson. Five plays into the opening drive, he took a sideline pass 50 yards for a touchdown, breaking several Chestatee tackles on the way.

Sandy Creek relied on the running game for its next score five minutes later, with Swinney taking a 17-yard sweep to end zone for a 14-0 lead.

The Patriots extended their advantage to 21-0 early in the second quarter on a high-arcing 46-yard pass from Garvin to Justin Sumpter, who had 52 yards on two catches.

Kitt, Sandy Creek’s return specialist, was forced to fair-catch every punt until 7:41 in the second quarter. He made his first attempt worthwhile, taking it at the 45 and racing down the sidelines before finding the end zone.

Chestatee kick returner Justin Spears fumbled on the ensuing play, and the Patriots’ Micah Solomon jumped on the loose ball, ending up on the War Eagles’ 3-yard line. Swinney punched in the touchdown on the next play to give Sandy Creek a 35-0 lead.

Chestatee used the remaining 7:19 left in the second quarter to produce a 65-yard drive that included 20 plays and five first downs. Easily the War Eagles’ most encouraging series of the night, it ended with Tray Bryant’s 2-yard touchdown run that put his team on the scoreboard.

Garvin’s only appearance in the second half was a 41-yard touchdown pass to Sumpter than was called back on a personal foul.

No problem. On the very next play, Swinney powered his way through the Chestatee defensive line and broke into open field for the 37-yard score and a 42-7 Sandy Creek lead.

The War Eagles wouldn’t get any closer to scoring than the Patriots’ 16-yard line the rest of the game.

With a running clock in the fourth quarter, Sandy Creek turned to Maceo Brown and Drezyn Parson for late-game running duties, and both players scored touchdowns. Brown ended up with 94 yards on seven carries, including a 37-yard scoring run.

Zac Cheshire, Chestatee’s leading rusher, ran for a team-high 44 yards on 23 carries. Bryant picked up 38 yards on 17 carries.

War Eagles quarterback Wyatt Burgess was limited on the ground, but had a season-best 71 yards through the air.

Walker saw enough from Chestatee to predict greater things to come for the War Eagles.

“(Coach Luttrell and I) talked about all the similarities to when we started and where they are in their program,” Walker said. “They do a great job coaching. I see that program getting better and better every year. “


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