Great coaching, size, experience, and a 12-game winning streak. Johnson County will bring all those and more to the Dome this Friday when the Trojans from Wrightsville meet our Red Devils in the first Class A semi-final. Kickoff will be at 3:00, between the Class AA and Class AAAA games.
While Lincoln County will extend its own state record and set a new mark of seven Dome games by a school, Johnson County will be playing its first game inside. With their experience and coaching, the "gee-whiz" of playing in the Dome will wear off fast as the Trojans do battle with our Devils for the right to play the winner of Saturday's Bowdon-vs-Washington-Wilkes tussle.
The Trojans' leading college prospect is Jeremy Martin. The 6'4", 230-pound senior is an outstanding defensive end and offensive lineman. Current UGA center Russ Tanner is a recent Johnson County alumnus. He and Hershel Walker both have their jerseys retired by the Trojans.
The Trojans return 13 starters, including 8 on offense. Cordele Johnson (5'8", 175, 4.6) is the lone returning senior on defense, and also plays quarterback. He's completed 63 of 136 attempts for 1,221 yard with 14 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He's their second leading rusher with a 4.7 yards per carry average based on 121 carries for 563 yards with 13 TDs. Kelvis Whitley (5'8", 165) leads the Trojans with 852 yards on 157 runs with 7 trips to the endzone. The offensive line is anchored by Phillip Whitley (6'0", 248) and Chaz Tanner (5'8", 235).
Johnson County Coach Bill Bonds is 108-46 after winning his 100th game earlier this year against defending Class A Co-Champ Hawkinsville 20-14. Bonds is in his second stint as the Trojans head coach, as he coached them in 1992 and 1993 before being the head coach at Hart County for 3 years. In 1993, Johnson County was 14-0 and came to Lincolnton for the Class A Championship game, which the Devils won 24-14 after jumping to an early lead.
The next season, the Trojans upset the Devils 25-13 in Wrightsville to hand Lincoln County its first road loss in nearly 10 years (54 games). That loss was also Larry Campbell's first regular season loss to a Class A team. The Devils and Trojans met again that year in the first round of the playoffs with a different outcome: LC 28-20. Johnson would win again in 2002 14-13 in Lincolnton when the Devils lost 5 turnovers, twice inside the Trojan 20.
The GAVSV Power Ratings, based on strength of schedule and other factors, ranks Johnson County at 92.18, the second best in Class A. Washington-Wilkes is first at 94.89 with Bowdon third at 91.86. Our Red Devils are sixth, 86.38. Obviously those early season losses had a significant effect as those numbers were crunched. Click here for the full Class A Power Ratings list.