Seasons come to and end down in south Georgia for GMC and Baldwin
Helmets courtesy of gahelmetproject.com
GMC Prep – 0
Schley County – 51
ELLAVILLE – The Dawgs had a very tough row to hoe on Friday night against Schley County, one of the favorites to win the GHSA Class A Division II state title this season.
The Wildcats have two of the best players in the state, one being Jalewis Solomon, a sophomore receiver who already has offers from Alabama and Florida State, as well as running back/linebacker Zayden Walker, a 5-star prospect and the 11th-best junior prospect in the entire nation, according to the 247 composite rankings.
Schley racked up 30 points and more than 300 total yards in the first half, while the Dawgs (4-7) had difficulty with the stingy Wildcat defense.
By traditional GMC football standards, this season was a success, as the Dawgs made the state playoffs for only the third time in the last 20 years. However, following an 11-1 season in 2021 and the first region championship since the 1950s, the Dawgs took a step back in 2022, unable to find the mojo from last year and recreate the magic.
Nevertheless, it's been an unprecedented stretch of success for the GMC program, the best of the post-World War II era, actually. Under Head Coach Lee Hannah, the Dawgs have made the playoffs for three straight years, which had never happened at GMC prior to Hannah's arrival. Also, GMC has now defeated neighboring Wilkinson County three years in a row, including a thrilling 7-6 victory last month at Davenport Field. Prior to Hannah's arrival, GMC hadn't defeated Wilco since the 1960s.
Baldwin – 20
Well, it was fun while it lasted.
The Braves went toe-t0-toe with the Bearcats for the first quarter-plus of Friday night's first-round GHSA Class AAAA playoff matchup in south Georgia. Baldwin tailback Micah Welch exploded for a 78-yard scoring run with 11:13 remaining in the second quarter, narrowing the gap to 21-13. Welch, a 4-star prospect for the Class of 2024 according to Rivals, racked up more than 150 rushing yards on Baldwin's first three possessions, and Bainbridge had very few answers.
After that, however, the Bainbridge offense mashed the gas, while its defense was able to contain Welch. The score was 42-13 by halftime and 51-13 by the middle of the third quarter.
Baldwin finishes the 2022 season with a 4-7 record and nearly missed the state playoffs for only the second time in the last 20 years. The Braves' playoff berth wasn't secured until the fourth quarter of its final game.
The Braves were dealt a major blow before the season ever began, as star wide receiver Shatavious Hogan transferred to a school in south Florida. Then the season began, and Baldwin's quarterback play was inconsistent. Junior Solomon Burney began the season at signal caller before giving way to sophomore Lamar Pounds, but neither was able to provide Baldwin with much of a spark. Without the threat of a consistent passing attack, defense were able to key on Baldwin's running game.
Baldwin also was plagued by penalties and special teams snafus this season.
The good news for the Braves is that they will only lose nine seniors, and the especially large classes of ninth graders and 10th graders will be a year older in 2023.