OCILLA, GA (WALB) - The Irwin County Indians will take another shot at ending the program's four decade state title drought Friday afternoon when they battle Region 2-A foe Clinch County at the Georgia Dome.
Irwin dropped the 2014 title game to Hawkinsville, but head coach Buddy Nobles believes the experience in last year's championship will benefit the Indians this time around.
"I think our kids are going to walk out there, and the only kids that'll be star struck are the freshman. Our upperclassmen know what it's like to play in big games," Nobles says. "Hopefully, we can finish this deal this year because we feel like we left something on the field last year."
It will also help to have a good defense. Irwin just so happens to have one of those as well.
The Indians are allowing just over 11 points per game this season, and have three shutouts in their last seven games.
The defense says it's been all about effort.
"We want to win the ring," says senior LB/TE William Lewis. "That's all there is to it."
"I know some coaches preach get 11 players to the ball. That's unrealistic," Nobles says. "We say get seven, eight, nine to the ball. We feel like if we do that, we're going to be ok."
Friday's title game will be a rematch of Irwin's 28-12 win over the Panthers in Ocilla in September.
Nobles says both teams are much different than that night, and his team sounds like they believe it.
"We're just thinking of them as another team that we haven't played before," says senior OL Cortavious Paschal.
"We're going to play for the state championship. We don't care who we're playing," Nobles says. "We're playing a team just like us. They just so happen to be from our region."
Nobles likes the way his team has practiced so far this week, and he thinks they'll be ready when they take the field in Atlanta.
"I'm going to tell you our kids are fired up. Clinch may go up there and beat us," he says. "But it won't be because we haven't practiced well or we haven't played well the last few weeks."
Irwin County and Clinch County kick off at 1:00 Friday afternoon at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.