The North Murray Mountaineers had to travel more than 300 miles Thanksgiving Day to play in the Georgia AAA football quarterfinals against Jenkins. Destination: Savannah.
The Mountaineers have made it to the third round of the playoffs, the deepest in program history. Senior quarterback Ladd McConkey expressed what it means to him and his teammates, "It's special. It's first time in program history. We won the region championship, that's a first. No one's ever made it past the Sweet 16. That's another first, but we're not satisfied yet. We're looking to go all the way. Our ultimate goal is a state championship."
Along with McConkey, junior running back D'ante Tidwell is a key piece of the North Murray offense. With a broad smile, Tidwell said, "Very excited. Most excited I've ever been for a game."
They will face a fast and athletic Jenkins team. Jenkins has two defensive linemen committed to D-1 schools. Jenkins' scoring defense is the best in AAA, giving up only 7.1 points a game. North Murray coach Preston Poag knows what lies ahead, "We gotta be jacked up and ready to play. Jenkins is a good team, a lot faster than us. I think we're a little bit more physical."
Poag added his team can't get caught up in any distractions such as having to travel on Thanksgiving Day or making the longest trip of any school in Georgia. "You can't let distractions bother you. I mean championship teams, they don't let distractions bother them."
Coach Poag said beating Calhoun this year really launched the season. The Mountaineers want to keep writing new chapters of program history. McConkey likes playing the role of underdog, as they will be Friday night. "Being an underdog, no one gave us a chance since the beginning. Trying to prove everybody wrong week by week."
Poag likes his team's hunger and experience. "It's just a veteran team. I tell people this all the time. We've got a bunch of seniors that's really started since they were sophomores, so they've played in big games. They've been in the playoffs and I tell people no game is too big for them."
NewsChannel 9 will have higlights from this game, Meigs County's game and South Pittsburg's Friday night on Fox Chattanooga at 10:00PM and NewsChannel 9 at 11:00PM.