Riding the wave of its most successful season in school history, the Dawson County High football team will host No. 2 Blessed Trinity on Friday in a Class AAA state quarterfinal at Tiger Stadium.
The Tigers (9-3) will make their first state quarterfinal appearance in school history against undefeated Blessed Trinity (11-0-1), who knocked off No. 5 Jefferson in Roswell Friday night.
Tigers coach Sid Maxwell and Titans coach Tim McFarlin flipped a coin Saturday morning, following their teams’ second-round victories, and determined that Dawson County would play its third straight home playoff game.
“It’s a great opportunity for these young men,” said Maxwell. “They’ve worked so hard to get this far. It’s great to have a lot of firsts for Dawson this year. There have been many years of frustration, but this is great for the community.”
Since the program began, Dawson County had never progressed past the second round of the state playoffs. Just last year, the Tigers finished last in Region 7-AAA with a 2-8 record.
Then, Maxwell took over. In his first year in Dawsonville, he helped the Tigers earn their first region title behind the standout play of sophomore quarterback Coey Watson (1,556 yards, 12 touchdowns) and senior running back Hunter Mitchell (920 yards, 9 touchdowns).
Maxwell spent the bulk of his career at Sequoyah in Cherokee County before leaving to start the Lambert High football program in Forsyth County in 2009. He has compiled a 133-75 career record during his 20 seasons as a head coach.
The Tigers romped through their region schedule, survived an offensive battle against Ringgold to open the postseason, and held on late to down Spencer on Friday in the second round.
Maxwell said Saturday that he had challenged his players to reach “Game 13,” which will come against Blessed Trinity. The two teams have never met.
“You always, as a coach, set the bar high,” he said. “That’s one of the things we set out as a measuring stick, and we’re here. When you have the opportunity to get to the Elite Eight, the ball bounces your way, you have a little luck.”
Maxwell said he and McFarlin are both friends from when they used to work at Sequoyah and Roswell, respectively.
CLASS AAAA: Coach Jess Simpson and Buford (11-1) will next travel to face Thomson (11-1) in the state quarterfinal at The Brickyard. The Wolves lost their coin flip following a convincing 42-0 win over Worth County, and will drive just over two hours on Friday to play in McDuffie County.
The Bulldogs breezed through region play in 3-AAAA, and have beaten Veterans and Grady so far in the playoffs.
The two teams have met twice before, with Buford winning easily both times.