WARRENTON — The Warren County Screaming Devils came into this season with very high hopes, aspiring to reach the Class A state championship with a team laden with seniors and heavy with talent.
That dream is still very alive, especially because it seems they are playing some of their best football to date.
Warren County used a daunting defense and a punishing running game to blow past Jefferson, 28-7, in the second round of the Class A state playoffs Friday night, setting up a third-round showdown next week with undefeated Emanuel County Institute.
A coin flip today will determine which school plays host next week’s game.
"We’re definitely contenders for the state championship. If we can just focus on the next game, we definitely go deep," said senior quarterback Tommy Seals, who rushed for 97 yards and two touchdowns.
"We’re a very dangerous team right now."
Seals, senior halfback Devarrus Reynolds and junior halfback Kentrell Latimore combined for 329 yards rushing and scored all four touchdowns for the Screaming Devils (10-2). They jumped out to a 14-0 first-quarter lead and never looked back.
"We were able to get some other guys involved besides Tommy, because we knew they would try to take him out of the game," Warren County coach Lee Hutto said. "Our other guys stepped up."
Jefferson running back Tyler Hill, who ran for more than 200 yards in the teams’ first meeting this season, a 40-28 Warren County victory on Sept. 21, was limited to 15 yards on 12 carries. The Dragons gained just 12 rushing yards on 18 carries.
"I thought the key tonight was our defense," Hutto said.
"We planned to stop their running game, and we did an outstanding job of doing that."
Jefferson (8-4) fumbled over its first possession, which led to a quick touchdown for Latimore. Seals’ 31-yard touchdown run on Warren County’s next possession made it 14-0.
Jefferson’s only successful play was a short drag route, which the Dragons ran plenty. It led to the majority of senior quarterback Josh Bohannan’s 135 passing yards and their only touchdown, a 48-yard pass to Zack Crosby late in the first quarter.
But Warren County answered right back with a six-play, 83-yard drive, capped by Seals’ 37-yard touchdown run.
"They’re a heck of a football team, very athletically gifted," said Jefferson coach Bill Navas, a former Augusta area coach with South Aiken, Butler and Hephzibah. "All we can ask is for our kids to fight hard, and they did."
Warren County’s Latimore led the way, gaining 129 yards rushing, mostly between the tackles. Reynolds had 103 yards rushing, as the Screaming Devils racked up 14 first downs and 352 yards rushing.