Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Fitzgerald Is Wary of Charlton County; Indians Lost Showdown Last Year but Went on to Win Class AA Title

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Fitzgerald Is Wary of Charlton County; Indians Lost Showdown Last Year but Went on to Win Class AA Title

Article excerpt

Byline: JASON SCHNEIDER

Every coach wants to win every game, but Fitzgerald's Robby Pruitt might have second thoughts about beating Charlton County when the two football teams play tonight in Fitzgerald.

Pruitt coached against Charlton coach Rich McWhorter four times, losing three when he was the coach at University Christian in Jacksonville in 1990, 1991 and 1992, and beating McWhorter last season.

But after each loss, University Christian made it to the state title game, winning the championship in 1991 and 1992. And after Fitzgerald beat Charlton County last season, it was the Indians who went on to win a state title.

"It's kind of ironic," Pruitt said. "It almost seems like we're better off when we lose to them."

Last season, that might have actually been the case. Fitzgerald beat Charlton to claim the Region 2-AA title, but because of regular-season upsets, forfeits and the seeding, the regional champ had a more difficult road to reach the Class AA state title game than did the runner-up.

Fitzgerald's side of the bracket included three-time defending Class AA champion Buford and Dublin, one of the teams favored to win the state title. So while Fitzgerald lost to Dublin in the second round, Charlton played a Swainsboro team that finished the regular season with a .500 record.

Charlton didn't play a team ranked in the Top 10 until the semifinals, when the Indians beat Laney.

Dublin might not have been in the Purple Hurricanes' side of the bracket had it not been forced to forfeit two games in the 2004 season.

"I'm still not convinced that Rich didn't let us win that game," Pruitt joked. "He may have out-smarted me."

The brackets don't set up as kindly as they did last year for the Region 2-AA runner-up. If the playoffs ended today, the Region 2-AA winner wouldn't have to play a team currently ranked in the Top 10 until the quarterfinals, while the runner-up would have to go on the road for a game against a likely Top-10 team in the second round. …

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