GENERALS FALL JUST SHORT

GENERALS+FALL+JUST+SHORT

Scott Lane

Greyson Harris, Sports Editor

After two chances to make school history as the first football team at Heritage to make the State playoffs, the Generals walked away somewhat empty-handed and yearning for more. A crushing home loss to Gilmer and a narrow defeat in the mini playoffs now put new head coach E.K. Slaughter in a position to move forward with the program.

A win against Gilmer at home on senior night would not have only been a fantastic way to send the class of 2015 out, but it would have all but guaranteed a spot in the State playoffs, a tournament that has eluded the Generals since they opened their doors seven years ago. I say “all but guarantee” because Heritage would have needed a little help from Northwest. To book their ticket to State, Northwest would need to defeat Southeast, and Heritage would need to handle their business against Gilmer.

Gilmer struck first, putting seven points on the board with 6:43 left in the first quarter. Heritage would answer right back pulling a play straight from the 2013 playbook as Luke Grant caught the screen pass, then turned and fired to a wide open Blaine Loveless down the middle for the easy touchdown. I couldn’t help but get flashbacks of the famous Christian King wave. At the end of the first half, Gilmer led Heritage 20-13 with momentum favoring the Generals. Soon into the second half, the Generals made it a tie game at 20 apiece. This score would stand until the final minute of the game when Gilmer caught a pretty lob pass into the endzone giving them the lead and eventually the win. Crushing, heartbreaking, upsetting, whatever you want to call it, Heritage knew they missed a golden opportunity; however, maybe destiny wasn’t quite through with them yet. Southeast lost their game to Northwest meaning Heritage, Southeast, and Northwest would participate in the first mini playoff series that I’ve ever heard of for a chance to become the fourth seed in the Georgia State playoffs.

The mini playoff consists of two five-minute halves with kickoffs and all the rest. Southeast won the coin toss giving them the first game off. Heritage and Northwest squared up in the first round for a chance at Southeast. Northwest tried their hardest to put away the game early, striking first by putting the ball in the endzone in the first half. The most important play of the game soon followed when they failed to convert the PAT. At the end of the first half, Northwest lead Heritage 6-0. In the second half, Corbee Wilson and Christian King connected on one of the most athletic catches you’ll see in this area of high school football. Plain and simple, if King was not over six feet tall with a ridiculous vertical leap, their season may have ended right there. Jorge Ramos knocked through the extra point to give Heritage the 7-6 lead and eventual victory.

Southeast ran all over Heritage in the regular season. The Generals defense simply could not contain their shifty running back. This game had a different story, however. Heritage dominated most of the game, but missed opportunities came back to haunt the program that was plagued by their mistakes in the regular season. At the end of the first half, the Generals failed to punch the ball in from the goaline, leaving the score tied at 0-0 at halftime. On the ensuing kickoff, Heritage could not handle the fumble from Southeast which would have given them optimal field position. On third and twenty-two, Southeast managed to bomb the ball downfield for a huge gain and a first down, keeping their drive alive. Southeast would eventually score, and a Generals’ interception would lead to the end of the game and their season.

As a student and huge fan of the football program, I can assure that any synonym of heartbreak would suffice in describing how I and many others felt about the outcome of what seemed to be a promising season; however, it is very important to note that this team still made history. They are the first football team at Heritage to ever win a postseason game. No, it wasn’t State, but Coach Slaughter has obviously laid down the new traditions of Heritage football. They will get their chance again, and don’t be shocked if it comes sooner than you think.