By Alvin Richardson
The orange-clad Hart County Bulldogs will pay a visit to Bill Corry Stadium this Friday night and there will be a lot on the line. Because the race is so close there will also be another factor in play – the three way region tie-breaker (between Morgan, Hart and Monroe Area) – and that could lead to some interesting decision making. Without going into all the specifics it boils down to these possibilities: (1) If Morgan County wins the game they will get the second seed. (2) If Morgan County loses the game by less than nine points they will still get the second seed. (3) If Morgan County loses the game by nine points or more they will be the third seed.
With those scenarios in mind consider this. What if Morgan County is behind late in the the fourth quarter by a score of 19-10 and are on the Hart County one yard line? Do they kick the field goal to get the score under the nine point break point? That would mean sacrificing a possible touchdown and a better opportunity to win the game. That’s just one of a myriad of possibilities that could come into play.
Another strange factor that could make for interesting decision making is this: Monroe Area and Franklin County will be playing at the same time. If Monroe Area loses to Franklin County the three-way tie-breaker is no longer in play and no points will be in play for the Morgan / Hart County game. That means that the straight up winner of the contest will be the second seed. It’s going to be difficult for the MCHS coaching staff to keep up with the progress of a game in Carnesville while trying to decide on strategy for the game they are playing.
In talking to Coach Bill Malone this week he’s going with the idea that Monroe Area (the solid favorite) is going to win their game versus Franklin County but will try to keep tabs on the score as best he can.
Can’t say that I’ve ever run into this sort of thing so we’ll see how things turn out.
Nonetheless here’s a rundown on the Hart County Bulldogs.
The orange-clad Dogs are 7-2 on the season and 3-2 in region play. They have posted wins over Elbert County (39-7), Stephens County (26-13), Commerce (40-20), Madison County (32-9), Jackson County (56-13), East Jackson (49-0) and Franklin County (28-7). They have lost to Jefferson (28-23) and Monroe Area (28-21).
On the flip side Morgan is 7-2 overall and 4-1 in region play with wins over Loganville (38-17), Greene County (28-15), Walnut Grove (35-14), Monroe Area (27-17), Jackson County (20-17), Franklin County (35-16) and East Jackson (45-31). Their losses have come at the hands of Oconee County (34-6) and Jefferson (47-12).
Statistically Hart County averages 34.8 points per game and allows 13.9 while Morgan scores 27.3 points per game and gives up 23.1.
The two schools have played 23 times since 1948 (including 3 games vs Hartwell High School) and Morgan leads the all-time series 12-11. Morgan has won the past three games with victories in 2016 (46-14), in 2017 (20-7) and last year (35-34). Hart won nine of ten games between 1996 and 2015.
Hart is led by Coach Rance Gillespie who has posted a stellar record of 133-68-0 (.662) in his career. Gillespie has coached at Banks County, Peach County and Valdosta and won a pair of state titles at Peach County as well as a region title at Valdosta. Gillespie is in his third season at Hart County and has a record of 14-17 to date.
The end result of all this is that the number two seed will be able to host a playoff game which looks to be versus Haralson County of Region 6AAA. The third seed will have to go on the road with the most likely opponent being Calhoun.
The Morgan County / Hart County game is set to begin at 7:30 p.m. Friday night.