CLASS AAA QUARTERFINALS: Canes have ‘will to win’

By Brendan Koerner - the walton tribune

Monroe Area’s Darrion Manuel (9) rushes for yardage in last Friday’s second-round win over Gilmer in the Purple Pit. The Canes will travel to Carver-Columbus this Friday for a GHSA Class AAA state quarterfinal contest. Kickoff is set for 7:00 p.m.  Brett Fowler | Brett Fowler Photography

After defeating the Gilmer Bobcats 42-24 last Friday, the Monroe Area Purple Hurricanes now prepare to travel to southwest Georgia the day after Thanksgiving for a matchup against Carver-Columbus.

Canes’ head coach Kevin Reach told The Walton Tribune that his team’s desire and effort made all the difference in Monroe Area advancing to the state quarterfinals.

“Our motto this year is ‘will to win’, because our players do have that will to win,” Reach said. “They’re resilient kids who play tough, hard-nosed football. They have that desire, and when you can see it in their eyes, you know you have a chance to win.”

Now, the Purple Hurricanes have to play the No. 9 ranked team in GHSA’s Class AAA.

The Tigers have a defense that is only giving up about 10 points per game, on average, and an offense that likes to give opposing defenses multiple different looks.

Reach acknowledged that Carver-Columbus will be similar to teams they have already seen this year.

“They’re a lot like Sandy Creek, the first team we played in the playoffs,” Reach said. “They’re athletic, and they can run with multiple talented skill guys, but it’s not going to be different than any other game we’ve played on our schedule. I like our chances if we can play our football and stick to the game plan.”

Reach further explained how the Tigers like to switch between a variety of formations on the offensive side of the ball.

“They’re a zone-read team, and they like to try to get the ball out on the perimeter,” Reach said. “One play they’re in a bunch set with trips out wide, and then the next play they’re in a power formation, so you just don’t know what they’re going to be in. It’s not like last week where we knew they were going to be in the same formation almost every play.”

Carver-Columbus is coming off of an 8-7 victory over Upson-Lee and are historically very competitive.

Since Tigers’ head coach Corey Joyner took over in 2018, the program has had six consecutive seasons in which its finished with nine wins or more; however, the Tigers have only made it past the quarterfinals once.

Even though these two programs have never played each other, Reach understands it will be a tough test. 

Reach is confident that his team can perform well a big win for the community and prove some people wrong.

“Going into this season, there wasn’t a lot of hope outside of the program. We won three, but then lost three, so people had their doubts,” Reach said. “But now, we’ve brought the group back together, and they’re playing their best football. It would mean a lot to get a win this Friday, because we don’t have one kid that does it all, we have a bunch of hard-workers that play for each other.”

Kickoff Friday will be at 7 p.m.  

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