Helen hot air balloon race
It’s always fun to watch the reaction of a team experiencing success in the playoffs that isn’t used to playing once the regular season is complete. This year, that team is White County.
The Warriors are the kid that runs downstairs on Christmas morning wide eyed to see what is underneath the tree. Last Friday, White County came from behind to knock off the 11-time state champions from LaGrange in the first round of the Class AAA state playoffs.
While this win wasn’t exactly a David vs. Goliath scenario — the Warriors won all their subregion games in the regular season and LaGrange only won five times all year — it was a case of a team finally getting over the hump with a monumental victory.
Remember, White County hasn’t been a bad football team in recent seasons.
The Warriors have just ended up short of the playoffs the past two seasons, despite a combined 13-7 record those two years. In 2007, White County made the playoffs, but lost in overtime in the first round. Seniors on this year’s Warriors team remember that game well.
That’s why this playoff victory for White County was so meaningful. First, it was the first win beyond the regular season at this school since 1983, a long time before any players on this team were born.
Also, it marked the Warriors’ first home playoff game appearance, and thus first home playoff win. Coming from behind for victory seemed like it was just the icing on the cake for such a historic night in Cleveland.
Reactions after the game from those on the field ranged anywhere from relieved smiles to pure elation. I saw one or two players jumping around like they just won the lottery.
White County coach Tommy Flowers was so happy he even set aside his normally stoic demeanor to live in the moment for awhile.
It’s nice to have a story like this from time to time in the high school football world. It’s the same way we felt when Flowery Branch turned into a statewide name a few seasons ago, and also how we took to North Hall when the Trojans started winning about six or seven years ago.
Will White County be able to experience the same long-term success as the Falcons and Trojans? Well, only time will tell there. Since the Warriors are so heavily tilted toward seniors on the field, it would be hard to expect them to have the same kind of success next year, but that’s pure speculation at this point.
To enjoy this journey in the playoffs, White County is sure to live it up this week as it visits Grady on Friday in Atlanta with a berth in the state quarterfinals on the line. Fans after the win against LaGrange speculated the team would use everything short of chartering a private plane to make the trip to Atlanta.
The Warriors are well aware that opportunities like this don’t come around every day. You might as well live it up while you can.
Bill Murphy is a sports writer for The Times. Contact him at email@example.com.