While most area schools have at least one more game to play, Lakeview Academy — a fifth-year program playing a non-region schedule — concluded its season Friday with a 23-12 win over Towns County.
The Lions finished the year 4-4 for their first non-losing season in three years of varsity football. Through 2008-09, the Lions competed in Region 8-A and were a combined 2-15, including 0-12 in region play.
“Finishing .500 is a big step and hopefully one to improve on,” said Lions coach Matthew Gruhn, who has been with the program since its inception in 2006. “Obviously, we wanted to do better, but we’ll take it. It was a great year for us, and hopefully this will lead to bigger things in the future.”
While the Lions will head into 2011 with the momentum of their first non-losing season, they’ll have to account for the loss of 12 seniors, all of whom started, six of which started both ways. Most of them joined the program as eighth graders when it launched.
“It’s going to be tough losing them,” Gruhn said. “Hopefully, they left a legacy that will make people want to play here. ... The seniors took away a lot from starting the program. They learned if you hang in there and keep working hard, things will go you way — hopefully that’s the life lesson they took away.”
BROWN’S HUMAN AFTER ALL: Some might have started to wonder if Flowery Branch quarterback Austin Brown was actually some kind of machine. Through eight games, he had thrown an area-leading 20 touchdowns and no interceptions. What’s more impressive is, heading into last Friday’s game, he was also leading the area with 188 pass attempts. No one else in the area was within 30 attempts and all quarterbacks who had thrown at least 10 touchdowns also had at least four interceptions.
However, Brown’s remarkable run of mistake-free passing came to an end when he was picked off in the third quarter. He also threw a 31-yard touchdown pass to Logan Conley, and the Falcons improved to 9-0 with a 40-14 win over Salem in Conyers.
CRUNCH TIME: Two Hall County schools — Gainesville and Flowery Branch — have already clinched state playoff spots and will play Friday for a No. 1 seed and a region championship.
Three-time defending state champion Buford will play host to Westminster for the Region 6-AA title, while the
Red Elephants will White County for the 8-AAA title. Flowery Branch plays host to Clarke Central (9-0, 9-0 region 8-AAAA) for the 8-AAA championship.
All teams playing for a region title have clinched home-field advantage through at least the first round of the playoffs and no worse than a No. 2 playoff seed.
With a win in next weeks region play-in games, area schools Johnson, Lumpkin County, Banks County and Dawson County will qualify for the state playoffs as either a No. 3 or 4 seed.