That pretty much sums up the thought process of a South Cobb fan so far this season. The Eagles are 5-0, and by the time the new Georgia Sports Writer’s Poll comes out today, they may have broken into the Class AAAAAA Top 10. But for those that will head to Clay Stadium this week, you probably arrive carrying a seat cushion and a bottle of Pepto-Bismol because your team surely hasn’t made it easy on you so far.
Four times already this season the Eagles have needed scoring drives in the final minute of regulation, or after last Friday night, overtime to pull out victories. With the exception of a gaudy 16-point victory over Douglas County, South Cobb’s average margin of victory is three points.
While it’s exciting for the fans, those kind of down-to-the-wire games week after week can wreak havoc on a coaching staff and its psyche, but Eagles coach Ed Koester has found a way around that extra pressure.
“Eight years ago, I had a (heart) defibrillator put in,” he said. “We’re having fun. And my wife says it doesn’t matter whether we win big or in the last second as long as we have one more point.”
That was the case last week when South Cobb beat North Cobb 27-26 in overtime, and the victory puts the Eagles in a position they are unaccustomed in contention for a region championship. South Cobb has won three in the program’s 60-year history – 1969, ’71 and most recently in 2005. A win over McEachern, a team that has beaten the Eagles five straight times and are 26-4 against South Cobb all time, on Friday, would put the Eagles in the region driver’s seat. But while he would admit there is more bounce in his team’s step and the student body at the school is excited, Koester wanted nothing to do with looking that far down the road.
“Last week was a nice win, but it hasn’t won anything for us,” he said. “All that did was make this week important. This game wouldn’t have been as important if it wasn’t for last week.”
Last week also provided another wrinkle when other teams scout South Cobb. The Eagles showed kicker Carlos Saldana was someone that can come through in the clutch. Saldana’s 39-yard field goal sent the game to overtime, and his extra point in the extra period put the game away after quarterback Stephon Masha put him in position with a 15-yard touchdown run.
Deservingly so, Masha and running back Chauncey Ingram deserve much of the credit for South Cobb’s success. Masha has thrown for 1,174 yards, run for another 472 yards, and is responsible for 13 touchdowns. When the ball isn’t in his hands, you can usually find it in Ingram’s, who has run for 502 yards and has found the end zone 10 times. But Masha and Ingram will likely be the first to say they couldn’t do what they are doing without a solid supporting cast.
“Our comment is we’ve had kids that have had star-type games, but they can’t do it unless the other 10 do their job,” Koester said. “We don’t have stars, but we’ve got kids that say, ‘Coach, you just call the play and we’ll get it done,’ and I say Ok.”
Twelve Cobb County teams qualified for postseason play a year ago. If the county is to duplicate that number again this year, there is a lot of work that needs to be done. If the season ended today, based on the current region standings, only 10 teams would qualify for the playoffs.
Here’s a look at what those playoff matchups might look like. If there are teams tied for a playoff spot, then the seeds are a projection:
As great a story it would be for South Cobb to have the No. 1 seed out of the region, currently, McEachern is the likely representative. The Indians would host Coffee in the first round with a potential game against the winner of Langston Hughes and Morrow in Round 2. Defending state champion Grayson, Milton, North Gwinnett and West Forsyth make up the rest of McEachern’s quarter of the bracket.
No. 2 South Cobb would host Colquitt County with the winner either traveling to Newnan or hosting Luella. Lassiter, Brookwood, Lambert and Mill Creek complete the Eagles’ quarter of the bracket.
No. 3 Harrison would travel to Lowndes. The winner would either travel to Lovejoy or host Douglas County. South Gwinnett, Etowah, Collins Hill and Johns Creek complete the Hoyas’ quarter.
No. 4 North Cobb would travel to Camden County for the second straight season. A Warriors’ victory would send them to either Newton or Tri-Cities. Norcross, Chattahoochee, Parkview and Walton complete North Cobb’s part of the bracket.
No. 1 Lassiter would host Brookwood with the winner of Lambert and Mill Creek waiting in Round 2.
No. 3 Walton would travel to Parkview. A Raiders win would either send them to Norcross or they would have a chance to host Chattahoochee.
No. 1 Allatoona would host Heritage-Conyers. A Buccaneers’ win would bring either Tucker or Forsyth Central to Acworth for Round 2. Richmond Hill, Jones County, Union Grove and Northside-Columbus would complete the Bucs’ portion of the bracket.
No. 1 Kell would host Miller Grove and then either Flowery Branch or North Paulding would visit the Longhorns in the second round. Lee County, Creekside, Warner Robins and Effingham County complete Kell’s quarter of the bracket.
No. 3 Pope would travel to M.L. King. A win would send the Greyhounds to East Paulding or they would host Clarke Central.
No. 8 Walker would host George Walton Academy. The winner would then go on the road to No. 1 Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy or host Mount Pisgah.
The Wolverines are part of the Class A private school playoff bracket, which is determined by a power matrix that ranks the teams.