By Donald Heath
Special for the Effingham Herald
GUYTON – South Effingham flag football coach Turner Davis could tell his girls would play well in their showdown with Woodville-Tompkins last Thursday night.
“They had that look,” Turner said. “You could tell they were focused and were ready for the moment and we showed up. That might have been our best game of the year.”
The effort came at just the right time.
South defeated Woodville 13-0 at the Corral and advanced to the Division I (A-4A) state playoffs for the first time in the program’s three-year history.
The Mustangs (8-4, 6-3 Area 2), a No. 4 seed, will travel to Brooklet to play defending champion Southeast Bulloch in the first round on Dec. 5. If they win, they will play the winner of Jenkins-Jordan at the same site later in the day.
The quarterfinals and semifinals will be held on Dec. 7 and the state championship will be held at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, home of the Atlanta Falcons, on Dec. 11 at 2 p.m.
But before worrying about the state playoff itinerary, South had to beat Woodville, which entered the game mirroring a 5-3 record in area play.
A year ago, the Mustangs beat Woodville 6-0, but both teams fell short of the postseason. This season, both teams were better and had beaten and lost to the same area teams.
“The goal we had in mind was to make the playoffs,” Turner said. “This group was one game short and they didn’t want that to happen again.”
After a scoreless first quarter, South broke the deadlock when Malaya Signal took a rugby-like pitch from Valencia Collins and sprinted into the endzone.
Sage Collier caught the one-point conversion pass from Anna Elliott to make it 7-0 with 7:37 left in the first half.
South ran out of time inside the Woodville 5-yard line just before halftime, but the scoring opportunity became insignificant when Elliott gave the Mustangs a cushion with a short touchdown run on a quarterback keeper midway through the third quarter to make it 13-0.
Signal and Elliott both had interceptions to lead a stingy South defense that didn’t allow the Wolverines’ offense to get untracked.
Davis said the win was proof of a program headed in the right direction. The Mustangs have gone from one win in 2021, to six wins last season and now eight.
Davis, in his second year as coach, had about 40 girls come out for flag football. He kept 24 to field varsity and junior varsity teams.
“To make it to the playoffs for the first time is exciting,” Davis said. “I think it shows we have people who can play. It shows your team is established.”