By Greg Kohntopp

greg.kohntopp@gaflnews.com



THOMASVILLE -- Thomasville and Cook were the big boys in Region 1-AA this season, but it is the Brooks County Trojans who have held down the fort for the region come playoff time.

While the No. 1 seed Bulldogs and the No. 2 seed Cook each suffered first-round losses, the No. 3 seeded Trojans have looked like a dominating force, defeating a 9-1 Savannah Christian team 28-0 in round one, and followed it up with a 38-14 drubbing of Macon County.

That same Macon County team ran away with the Region 4-AA title and had a 10-1 record going into the game.

The Trojans now look ahead to their third-round game against back-to-back-to-back Class AA champs Buford.

The Wolves have been the most dominating team in Class AA for the past four seasons. They had a 45-game winning streak coming into the 2004 season, before it was snapped in week three in a 20-14 loss to Region 8-AAAAA Central Gwinnett. But the Wolves rebounded to win their last nine games heading into Friday's game at Buford. Overall, the Wolves have won 56 of 57 games since the 2001 season.

"This is going to be a huge opportunity for our kids," Brooks County head coach Ryan Branch said.

"We know if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best."

The Trojans, however, also have a modest six-game winning streak. Their last loss was a 35-14 beating by Thomasville Oct. 1. Since that time, the Trojans have started clicking and have outscored their six opponents by an average margin of 36-16.

"Thomasville had a great football team," Branch said. "Not to take anything away from them, because they punched us in the mouth, but we expected it to be a good football game.

"We didn't play as well as we knew we could."

The Thomasville loss put a spark into the Trojans and they haven't looked back. The only team to stay within 10 points of the Trojans in that span was Mitchell-Baker.

"We had a lull against them," Branch said. His Trojans escaped with a 29-28 victory against the Eagles Oct. 15. "But Mitchell-Baker is a heck of a football team."

Now, the Trojans must look ahead to another "heck of a football team" in Buford. Even with the Wolves' dominance, Branch isn't hyping this game more than any other this season and wants his team to go out and play with a nothing-to-lose attitude.

"We're feeling pretty good right now," Branch said. "We're in the third round of the playoffs for the first time since 1997."

That attitude has allowed the Trojans to get back into the playoff picture. After the Thomasville game, the Trojans were 2-4 overall and 0-2 in the region and we're in a must win situation the rest of the way out. The team responded and won the last four regular season games.

Branch says most of the success has to do with the team finally coming together.

"Guys like fullback (Donnell) Golden, running back (Marcus) Stroud, quarterback (Micah) Edwards and receiver (Joseph) Huewitt have all played well," Branch said. "But the biggest thing is everybody else has stepped up and are playing well too. Especially on the defensive side of the ball. Everybody is trying to make plays. It hasn't been a one-man team."

Now, the Trojans hope their run will continue with a victory against the mighty Wolves. Branch says if his team can do the seemingly impossible it could be a program-building victory.

"I think so," Branch said. "Anytime you get to play the best team in the state and if you can beat them it is. But we don't really look at it like that. We are excited to be here and it wouldn't matter if we were playing another Region 1-AA team. We would be just as excited."

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