The Chestatee War Eagles have been waiting all year for tonight.
A year has passed since White County defeated the War Eagles 35-21, virtually eliminating them from the state playoffs.
Chestatee hasn’t forgot about last year, and the team is seeking revenge.
“Beating White County will be the icing on the cake for my senior year,” said Chestatee linebacker Chase Vasser, who leads the War Eagles’ defense with 85 tackles (six for a loss). “They slipped up on us last year and we ain’t gonna let that happen twice.
“We hate White County and I know they hate us,” he added. “We want to go up there and spoil their homecoming and repay the favor from last year.”
The War Eagles (4-2, 3-0 Region 7-AAA) have the momentum to make that possible. Chestatee is riding a three-game winning streak that includes a 57-0 rout of Gilmer last week.
“Any time you come off a win like this it’s going to help your program,” Chestatee coach Stan Luttrell said after the win. “It’s definitely going to give us some momentum.”
White County (2-4, 0-2), on the other hand, has lost back-to-back games including a 33-0 loss to Region 7-AAA newcomer Creekview a week ago.
“We’re trying to get our confidence,” White County coach Gregg Segraves said. “We just lost two games in a row that we expected to win, or at least play well in.”
They didn’t, and according to Segraves, the loss to North Hall played an integral role in the loss to Creekview.
“I just think they had a hard time getting over it,” Segraves said referring to the loss to the Trojans in which the Warriors were intercepted on the would-be go-ahead touchdown late in the game “That’s my fault. I didn’t get them back ready for the following week.”
Segraves hopes that last week’s shutout loss to the Grizzlies won’t have the same outcome.
“I’d like to think our kids are going to respond,” he said. “We have seniors with good leadership and character, so I don’t think it’s going to happen.”
In a game of this magnitude, White County can’t afford another letdown.
The Warriors enter tonight’s game two and a half games behind first-place Chestatee and two games behind second-place North Hall in the subregion. With its loss to the Trojans, North Hall holds the tiebreaker over White County, and if the Warriors hope to get back in the race for the playoffs, tonight’s game against Chestatee is a must-win.
“We were hoping this was going to be a big game in the standpoint of the playoffs, and it still can be,” Segraves said. “But we don’t control our own destiny anymore.”
That wasn’t the case a year ago.
Last year, with North Hall cruising to a region title, White County and Chestatee were mired in a season-long battle for the final playoff spot from the subregion. On Oct. 19, during Chestatee’s homecoming night, White County beat the War Eagles 35-21 and went on to win its final three games of the year to secure a playoff spot. Chestatee lost to North Hall in the final game of the year, and was left out of the playoffs.
“They really brought the game to us last year,” Luttrell said of White County. “They forced us to make some turnovers and put us in some bad situations.
“They beat us and took that playoff spot that we thought was ours.”
This year the shoe is on the other foot.
A win tonight will all but secure Chestatee a playoff spot. The War Eagles will hold the tiebreaker over White County, with two subregion games left to play. One of those games is an Oct. 24 meeting with North Hall, the other is on the final night of the season on Nov. 7 against Creekview.
Luttrell knows how much a win tonight will mean to his program.
“It’ll be real big,” he said. “We’ll still be fighting for those coveted playoff spots in our subregion, and a win will definitely help us going into next week against North Hall.
“It’s going to be a hard-fought, physical, Chestatee-White County football game,” he added. “It’s going to come down to the wire.”