The Wildcats (6-5), after starting the season 1-5, have won five straight games to not only close the regular season with a winning record, but they also finished second in GISA Region 1-A to earn a home game for the state playoffs.
Dawson Street will host Crisp Academy at 7:30 p.m. today in Hogansville, with the winner advancing to the final four.
After opening the year back in August with a 16-15 win over Arlington Christian, the Wildcats lost five straight before picking up their second win, which was the start of a five-game winning streak that capped a winning regular season .
Crisp comes into its game with a 6-4 overall record, 3-2 in its region.
This marks the first time Dawson Street has hosted a GISA playoff game.
“It’s big, it’s really big,” assistant coach Carlos Robertson said of playing at home. “The last six or seven years, we’ve been going on the road traveling four or five hours and it affected us. As a school and as a whole it’s real big. Everybody at the school is real excited. The parents are excited, the kids are excited and just the whole community is excited about it.”
Robertson said Crisp is a run-oriented team that lines up on offense in the wishbone, a look not many teams sport these days.
“The quarterback is a pretty good football player,” Robertson said. “As he goes, they go. I think their rushing attack is probably one of the tops in the region. I think we’re going to have to be on our P’s and Q’s and stop the run. I think as long as we can stop the run, we’ll do pretty good.”
Dawson Street is coming off a pair of hard-fought wins.
Two weeks ago, the Wildcats battled David Emanuel in a close game, coming out on top 12-6.
Last week in the regular-season finale, Dawson defeated Curtis Baptist 20-14 on the road.
Earlier in the season, Dawson scored a 54-0 shutout over Hancock Academy, then turned around and defeated Bethlehem Christian 46-12.
The Wildcats then downed Greene Academy 44-7.
Robertson believes if the defense can plug up the holes on the line of scrimmage, which would shift Crisp away from its bread and butter running game, chances for advancement to the second round would be greatly increased.
Still, Robertson said “it’s going to be a tough game.”
Dawson will be looking to a pair of players that have been instrumental all season in the team’s success.
They include senior Brandon Johnson and A.J. “Everything” Ferrell.
“It feels good to be on a winning team,” said Johnson, the leading tackler. “It feels good to be in the playoffs. We’ve had some great practices and we’re listening to the coaches so we can play hard.”
Senior running back Shaquille Tiggs has received a lot of kudos for his rushing efforts this season, including one game with more than 300 yards on the ground.
But it’s Ferrell, a cornerback and wide receiver, who Robertson said is most likely the best athlete on the team.
“I feel good and I hope we just come out and play good tomorrow night,” Ferrell, a junior said during a break in practice on Thursday. “I hope we can keep our composure and just come out with a victory. The team is going to do all it can to win.”
If Dawson Street wins, it would play the winner of another first-round game between David Emanuel and Frederica Academy.
If Frederica wins, the game would be on St. Simons Island.
If David Emanuel pulls off the upset, the game would be in Hogansville.