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Twice as nice: Indians relish second-straight title, Trojans left to wonder ‘what if’

Published: Dec. 29, 2020 at 6:45 PM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Emotions ran high, and so did the drama, but at the end of the day, it was the Irwin County Indians who held off the Brooks County Trojans, 27-19, to win their second straight state title.

For Irwin, the offensive game plan looked the same as it has all year: Get the ball to Gabe Benyard, and good things will happen.

The senior tailback and do-it-all man for the Indians racked up three touchdowns in the first half alone, but defensively is where Irwin shined, bottling up Nitavion Burris, Omari Arnold and the rest of the Trojans’ lethal roster of talent.

In the regular season, Irwin was not just the only team to beat Brooks, but hold the Trojans under 20 points and last night, they did it again.

“You’ve got to tackle well against that group. If [Arnold] gets out in the open, it’s a touchdown and both games we tackled him pretty well. The one we didn’t tackle him he busted out of there and scored, but as long as we tackle well on defense, we talk about it every day, practice it every day, we’re good,” Indians head coach Casey Soliday said following the victory.

On the other sideline, the 25-year title drought will continue for Brooks, the Trojans falling short in their second straight trip to Atlanta.

Head coach Maruice Freeman admits that his team made mistakes you simply can’t make in games like this, but that this one game will not be how he or anyone else should remember a squad that’s overcome so much.

“Fighting hard, going through some great days and some bad days and just listening, doing what the coaches are saying and not one day, not one time, not one instance did these young people embarrass brooks county. I’m so proud of them, it’s ridiculous. It’s just sad we had to come out on the short end of the stick,” Freeman said.

So, the topsy-turvy high school football season that was 2020 has come to an end with only one champion in our area, the Indians, who took home the gold Monday night.

In all area teams that were in the finals, Rickards, Brooks and Irwin, there’s clearly a lot of pieces there, and even for those who lost in the semi’s or beyond.

We’re going to have a lot of great football coming up here next fall.

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