The Long County football team ended the season Friday by falling to playoff-bound Brantley County 41-8.
The Herons dominated the game early, building a 27-0 lead, scoring on four of six possessions in the first half.
Though the offense struggled to move the ball, the Blue Tide defense was able to force two turnovers in the game, an interception by Tariq Carpenter and a fumble recovery by Jamin Davis. That gave the offense good field possession twice.
Unfortunately for Long County, neither time was the offense able to capitalize on the short field by putting up any points. The offense struggled most of the game, notching only two first downs through three and a half quarters.
The offense and defense both continued to play hard, as they have all year, and the efforts paid off in the fourth quarter with a touchdown by Deondrae Volcy and 2-point conversion by Christian Bass.
With the region win, Brantley County improved its overall record to 6-3 and its region mark to 3-2. The Herons end the regular season as the third seed in Region 2-AAA and now advance into the playoffs.
The Blue Tide’s season ends with an overall record of 1-6-2 and a region mark of 0-5.
Long County Head Coach Eric McNair said that despite the year not going as well as he had hoped, he still was proud of his players.
"Guys I love each and every one of you and I’m proud of how you continued to battle tonight and all season," the coach told his players during an after-game talk. "You don’t need to hang your heads just because the season didn’t go as we had planned. I’m proud of you and always here for you."
The Brantley game also was the final game that Blue Tide assistant head coach and defensive coordinator Jeff Miller will be standing on the sideline of a football field. Miller, who is in his 30th year as a high school coach and his 33rd as a football coach, will be retiring from teaching after this school year. After the game, he reflected on his tenure and what he thinks is important about coaching.
"My most important job is the same that all coaches ought to strive for, to build good character in these young men," Miller said. "Wins are great, and I want to win for sure, but you don’t always win in football, and you’re not going to always win in life. What I want to contribute to, is when these guys are 30, I want to have helped them become productive good citizens."
McNair also praised Miller.
"You can’t replace a guy like Coach Miller," McNair said. "He’s a head coach’s dream. We may have to hire three coaches to do all that he does for us."
With graduation next spring, the football team will lose many key players, some who played on both offense and defense. Finding replacement for all of these spots will be difficult, but the team should have 11 juniors and four sophomores who were starters or saw playing time this year coming back in 2017.