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Editor’s Column: Phoenix comeback thrilling to watch; Football picks

November 11, 2016

Sonoraville comeback now on list of best games I’ve covered

Sonoraville looked like they were going to be quickly and disappointingly sent into the offseason last Friday when they trailed Ringgold by two touchdowns with less than nine minutes to play in the fourth quarter of their Region 6-AAA Play-in game. But the Phoenix had a whole lot more faith, belief and never-say-die attitude than I had sitting in the press box.

What happened after that was one of the best, most entertaining, thrilling fourth-quarter comebacks that I’ve ever seen in my eight years of covering high school football. The Phoenix got an incredible interception from Sherrod Agee, touchdown runs from Patrick Moore and Tristan Key, some clutch catches from Camron Keith and Bryce Waters and eventually a clutch 22-yard game-winning field goal in double overtime by Kevin Villatoro, among several other huge plays, to overcome the Tigers lead and march into the state playoffs for the fourth straight season.

There were so many things that had to go right for them to pull off the comeback, and everything did go right. Coach Jim Kremer said after the game that the players on the field and the sideline never stopped believing they were going to win, and that resolve led to a season-saving victory.

As far as I’m concerned, that game goes up there in the top five high school football games that I’ve ever covered along with Calhoun’s triple-overtime playoff win over Elbert County last year, Sonoraville’s shootout win at Ringgold last season, Calhoun’s overtime win over Buford in the Georgia Dome for a state title and way back to a Pepperell comeback and win in overtime at Rockmart many years ago when I was working at the Rome News-Tribune. And I couldn’t put those in order if you forced me to. They were all incredible.

Hopefully there is more dramatic football to watch for Sonoraville and Calhoun now that the postseason is here. And if there is, I can’t wait to see it.

Weekend football picks

Georgia Tech and Georgia are both 5-4 and no one, including myself, has any idea how the final month of the season is going to go for either. The Falcons on the other hand look like a legitimate contender in the NFC. Here’s my picks for their games this weekend:

Auburn at Georgia

The Tigers have come so far since the beginning of the season when some people were saying Gus Malzahn wouldn’t be back for 2017 and now, he could be the SEC Coach of the Year. A big reason for that is they have gotten back to a dominant running game and a lot less gimmicks in their offense. Plus, their defensive line is pretty darn good.

Georgia needed last week’s win over Kentucky in a bad way and they got it. Now, they need to build on that by showing up against a more talented team at Sanford Stadium. But like I pointed to earlier, Auburn’s defensive line could cause major problems for an extremely inconsistent Georgia offensive line.

It’s going to be hard for Georgia to run it or throw it. The Bulldogs fall back to .500.

Score: Auburn wins, 28-14.

Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech

I’ll be short and sweet with this one. While the Jackets may have the ability to score some points, they don’t have the ability to stop Virginia Tech from scoring points. Georgia Tech’s defense, which I blame Ted Roof and Paul Johnson for, is just awful. I mean incredibly, terribly bad.

Johnson seriously needs to consider going for it on fourth down and kicking onside kicks from here on out. That’s how bad it’s gotten. But whatever the case, they aren’t winning this game.

Score: Virginia Tech wins, 35-17.

Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles

The Falcons offense has been simply unstoppable this season led by Matt Ryan and Julio Jones. The Eagles, however, have come back down to earth a bit after a great start with rookie quarterback Carson Wentz.

There could be some big yards and big points scored in this game. I just think the Falcons score more, especially in the second half where they’ve proven they can pull away over the past couple months.

Score: Falcons win, 38-28.