The season didn’t end like they had hoped, but Douglas County High and Lithia Springs coaches praised the efforts of their squads.
Both teams’ seasons ended last Friday with second-round playoff losses on the road.
Douglas County’s loss, 42-13, to Northside-Warner Robins while Lithia Springs was defeated 49-33 by Whitewater.
“To be honest, I thought our kids fought hard throughout the year,” Douglas County coach Johnny White said. “We only had five returning starters at the beginning of the season. We had a lot of guys to step up, and I’m very proud of that.”
The season begin with some adversity as returning all-region lineman Tyler Fairley died two days before fall practice was scheduled to start.
Douglas County dedicated the season to Fairley’s memory, and finished at 8-4 overall and reached the state playoffs for a second straight season.
Lithia Springs reached the state playoffs for a third straight season and advanced to the second round for the first time in school history.
The Lions were the No. 3 seed from the region.
“We knew we could have a pretty decent season,” Lions coach Corey Jarvis said. “We had some players with some game experience. I think playing a tough, non-region schedule prepared us for the playoffs. Overall, it was a good season.”
Whitewater had 356 rushing yards and seven touchdowns in the game.
The Lions were led by all-region quarterback Jai’que Hart, who passed for 415 yards and four touchdowns in Friday’s loss. On the season, the junior threw for 3,082 yards and 30 touchdowns.
Jarvis praised Hart for the progress that he made throughout the season, especially the team’s last five games.
During that stretch, Hart threw for 1,256 yards and 16 touchdowns with no interceptions. He finished the season with 11 total interceptions while completing over 50% of his passes.
“He showed a lot of growth,” Jarvis said. “We are excited about his future.”
Douglas County was down 14-0 after the first quarter, and 35-7 going into halftime.
Sophomore quarterback Sire Hardaway finished with 241 yards passing and two touchdowns.
The Tigers could only muster 69 yards rushing in the contest.
Despite the loss, White said his young team gained some valuable experience heading into next season.
“That is huge,” White said. “Now the kids understand what it takes. We gained a lot of experience. We got some holes to fill in some spots, but I like the team we have coming back.”