ECI Middle School completes the repeat, wins championship
By Justin Gray
The ECI Middle School Football Program is known for its outstanding success. Year after year they are the team to beat in their region. The team doesn’t have rebuilding years, it's just the next guy up and they are always ready.
Coming into this season, ECI won two out of the last three championships. This team was poised for success because that's all they've ever known. The season was a blur and ECI went 6-0 in the most dominant fashion you can. They outscored opponents 320-6, so as you can see not even one close game, that's how dominant they’ve been. The six teams that the Bulldogs took down were Bryan County, Metter, Jenkins County, South Tattnall, Screven County, and North Tattnall.
They finished as the number one seed in the playoffs meaning they got every playoff game at home. The Bulldogs were led on offense by Chase Johnson, Ja’Shon Branch, Patron Mack, and Ab Marsh. They’ have been able to run crazy behind a great offensive line of Turner Bryant, Gage Johnson, Holden Bowen, Terence Carlyle, Landon Frederick, Aaron Matthews, Brayden Rich, and Sam Williams.
Defensively, an almost perfect season giving up only one touchdown in six games, it was a group effort. The big defensive line who was nearly unstoppable consisted of Bowen, Mack, Carlyle, and Turner. The linebackers played a huge part at the second level with Branch and Matthews being the leaders. The secondary is the key to not giving up big plays and Marsh, Chase Johnson, Davis Johnson, Williams, and Rashad Smith, stop those from happening.
Now it was time for what matters, the playoffs. Four teams made the playoffs and they were seated as listed; ECI, Toombs County, Screven County, and North Tattnall. In round one, it was a rematch vs North Tattnall, whom the Bulldogs have already beaten this season.
The Bulldogs rolled in this one 38-8, playing well in all facets of the game. They awaited their matchup for the championship, and it was Toombs County after they defeated Screven County 43-14.
Coming into the championship, both teams remained undefeated and it was poised to be one of the best championship matchups this region has seen. It was a long season and it all came down to this. Both teams played a hard fought game and it was ECI’s first hard fought game all year and in the end the Bulldogs gutted it out with the 14-13 win.
This win made it back-to-back championships in the region and three in the last four years. What a season! Head Coach Greg Kennedy had this to say about this years team, “This group has put in the work since June and they have learned to battle through adversity and that paid off when we faced a really good Toombs County team. We fell behind, took the lead, and then had to play together to hold them off. It was a great team effort by a great group of boys. I’m so proud of the way they fought for four quarters.” Coach Kennedy and his staff has done a phenomenal job during his time as head coach. The Crossroads Chronicle congratulates the ECI Middle School Football team and Coach Kennedy on this outstanding season!