FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS: Baldwin shocked in Eatonton; JMA rolls; GMC falls to tough ACE Charter team
• Baldwin – 14
• Putnam Co. – 23
EATONTON – For a very long time, the idea of Putnam County High beating Baldwin High in football would have seemed extremely far-fetched and very, very unlikely.
It just happened, though.
The GHSA Class AA War Eagles took the lead early in the second quarter and never looked back against the bigger Class AAAA Baldwin program. More than anything, many of the Braves' players were shocked following the game, slowly walking off of the field and back to the busses.
In terms of losing to a smaller next-door neighbor, you'd have to go all the way back to 2000 when Baldwin lost to Wilkinson County. In other words, Putnam fans won't let Baldwin fans hear the end of this one for a very long time.
Baldwin (0-2) accumulated well over 100 yards in penalties, and the Braves' special teams had numerous snafus and serious issues.
The offense for the Braves once again was AWOL and didn't have a sustained drive the entire evening. The offense's only touchdown was a short pass from Solomon Burney to Armontae Palmer in the third quarter that Palmer turned into a long 77 yarder. Meanwhile, the Braves' other TD on Friday came courtesy of its defense following a first-quarter Putnam fumble.
The Braves' offense has now scored a mere three touchdowns in its first two games of 2022. The offensive woes for Baldwin actually began late last year. Counting the last two games of 2021 and the first two games of 2022 (a span of four games), the Baldwin offense has only scored four touchdowns total – one per game.
Baldwin star player Micah Welch, ranked as the No. 2 junior running back in the state and a top 150 national prospect by rivals.com, was bottled up for the just about the entire night and had nowhere to run.
Putnam, to its credit, is in the middle of a football renaissance. The War Eagles entered the game ranked seventh in Class AA in the composite poll. It was the 13th consecutive regular-season win for Putnam dating back to November of 2020. The War Eagles last season finished 12-1, the first time since 1996 that they'd won at least 10 games.
For Baldwin, meanwhile, the frying pan is about to get even hotter next Friday night, as South Georgia powerhouse Ware County comes to town. Putnam County was ranked No. 7 in Class AA entering this week, while Ware County was ranked No. 6 in the much larger Class AAAAA.
The first solid shot for Baldwin to pick up a win this season appears to be two weeks from now in Sandersville against Washington County. The Golden Hawks lost to Swainsboro 42-0 on Friday night and appear to be pretty listless this season with a first-year head coach.
• Lamar School (Miss.) – 7
• John Milledge Academy – 24
CARROLTON –The Trojans didn't show their visitors from Mississippi a whole lot of Georgia hospitality on Friday night in the inaugural Southeastern Commission of Independent School Kickoff Classic on the campus of the University of West Georgia.
Per usual, the game basically already was over at halftime, with JMA holding a 41-0 lead.
The game marked the first time in JMA's football history, more than 50 years, that the Trojans played against an out-of-state opponent.
The current seniors on JMA's team still have no idea what it's like to lose a high school football game, because they never have. The Trojans' ran their overall win streak to 37 on Friday night. Amazingly, all 37 of those wins have been by at least double digits, and 36-0f-the-37 have been by at least three touchdowns.
• ACE Charter – 24
• GMC Prep – 15
The Dawgs fell to 0-2 to the Gryphons of Ace Charter, a newer charter school out of Macon.
It was the 2022 home opener at Davenport Field.
The score was tied 15-15 heading into the fourth quarter, but the Gryphons made some key plays to pull away.
The Dawgs will look to eat next Friday night, however, hosting GISA Brentwood Academy here in Milledgeville. The War Eagles from Sandersville opened the season last week with a 42-7 loss to JMA.