All three coaches admit it was one of the strangest situations any of them had been in.
At the end of the night, two of them left pleased with the turnout. The other walked off disappointed.
Fitzgerald and Cook punched their ticket to the GHSA state football playoffs, beating out Early County in a three-team tiebreaker Monday night in Sylvester.
The teams played two ten-minute games to determine who was in and who was out.
In the first game, Fitzgerald defeated Cook 3-0 to clinch their spot.
"The biggest thing is we've continued the tradition of Fitzgerald getting in the playoffs," says Purple Hurricane head coach Jason Strickland. "Our kids have battled and there's been frustrations and things like that. I want to commend our kids. They came out and played just good enough to get us in."
That left Cook to play Early County in a winner-take-all game.
The Hornets batted down the Bobcats Hail Mary pass as time expired to clinch the 7-0 win.
"Just happy to get in the playoffs again. Year number 14 for us straight," says Hornet head coach Ken Cofer. "Good for the Cook community, good for Cook High School."
On the other end of the spectrum, Early County is left on the outside looking in.
"One play, you know? One big first down, and you're behind," says Early County head coach Trey Woolf. "I thought this football team came further than any I've ever had. I never thought we'd be in this situation when the year started. We got better and better and better, and gave ourselves a chance to get in and it just didn't work out."
Both Woolf and Cofer admitted the Hornets may have gotten an advantage by playing the first game while the Bobcats sat in the locker room.
"You're keeping your sweat going, and you're asking the other team to come on and play ten minutes and that's it," says Cofer. "I hate it for Coach Woolf and Early County, but it's definitely an advantage."
"It probably could," Woolf says. "It's an interesting format to say the least."
Fitzgerald will be the region's three seed, and travel to play Dublin Friday night. Cook is the fourth seed. They head to Augusta to play Laney.
Seeding was determined by the two team's regular season head-to-head matchup.
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