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Eagles Are State Champions

The Vidalia Heritage Academy Eagles played their first varsity season during the 2017-18 school year, they didn't win a game. This season, just five years later, well, they not only went 10-1 on the year, but just brought home their first GAPPS 1A State Championship, and they did so in dominating fashion.

The Eagles of VHA averaged over 50 points a game this season on their way to that title. On Friday night of last week they traveled to Cumming to take on the Warriors of Horizon Christian Academy. Horizon were also the defending State Champions, and were averaging over 40 points a game this season. The game was played on the astroturf field at Pinecrest Academy, also in Cumming.

The Eagles had a good return to start the game and began at the 45-yard line. On the second play from scrimmage, Ethan Sikes broke free and went 52 yards for a touchdown. The twopoint try failed, but the Eagles had and early 6-0 lead.

Heritage got a stop on defense and took back over with just under seven minutes to go in the first quarter. They started the drive at their 7-yard line. On the second play again, Sikes went 81 yards for another Heritage touchdown. They again did not get in on the twopoint conversion, but were now up 12-0 with 7:19 left in the first.

The Eagles added a third touchdown on a 76-yard pass from Josiah Smith to John Smith with us over three minutes to go in the opening quarter. That made it 18-0.

Horizon got on the board with 2:43 to go in the first quarter on a long pass play. They kicked the extra point to close the lead to 18-7.

Horizon got an onside kick, but after putting the Warriors into a fourth down situation, Jacob Dean came up with a big sack for Heritage to give the Eagles the ball back with good field position. Ledger Curl picked up 10-yards, continued from page

and then a run by Josiah Smith to the 10-yard line set up another touchdown. Curl moved the ball down to the 1-yard line on the final play of the first quarter. On the first play of the second quarter Josiah Smith went in for the touchdown. They again failed on the two-point try, but were now on top 24-7.

Horizon had a big pass play for a touchdown just a few minutes later, and added the extra point to make it 24-14 with 9:47 left in the first half of the Championship Game. The Eagles started their next drive at their 44-yard line, and on the first play Sikes again found running room and went 66 yards for the touchdown. Heritage went in for the two-point conversion to increase the lead to 32-14.

With 5:10 left in the first half the Warriors again found the end zone as they were not going away. They added the PAT to make the score 32- 21.

On the Eagles' next possession James Hutcheson and Josiah Smith combined to move the ball to the Warriors' 39-yard line, and on the next play Sikes again found paydirt as he took it in for the touchdown. That made the score 3821 with 4:47 left in the first half.

The Eagles went for an onside kick, and Sikes recovered it for Heritage right at midfield. This time the Warrior defense got a stop and a bad snap gave Horizon the ball at their 42-yard line. They took advantage as they hit another pass for a touchdown. That closed it to 38- 28.

Sikes again scored on a big play on the Eagles' next drive as he went 60 yards for another touchdown. The two-point try was good to make the score 46-28. And that was the score at halftime.

In the second half of the game the scoring slowed, but both teams still found the end zone. In the third quarter Josiah Smith scored for the Eagles to put them on top 54- 28.

Later in the third quarter John Smith came up with a great catch and then ran for yet another VHA touchdown. That put the Eagles on top 6028 with 3:27 left in the third quarter.

There was a running clock in the fourth quarter due to the large lead of the Eagles. Josiah Smith had a long 60-yard run in the fourth with just over eight minutes to go in the game to push the VHA lead to 66-28.

The Warriors added a touchdown with just over three minutes left in the game, but the Eagles rolled to their 66-36 win for the State Championship.

VHA Head Coach Seth Sitzman said, “These kids have put in so much hard work. I am so proud of them. From taking it from 0-10 to a State Championship in just five years is just amazing. It has been a building process, but nobody would have guessed this. But with the work they have put in, they deserved it.

“We had a good game plan coming into this game, and they threw the ball better than we thought they could, but to hold them to just eight points in the second half was great for us. It was a tough drive up here, but the kids stayed focused the whole way, and now we are just living in this moment.

“As for our seniors, those three guys, they are just the type of kids that you hope you son grows into. They work hard on and off the field, and are real young men that are leading our program. They were there when we were getting beat by 70, and now to see them on the other side, it has made them stronger, and led to this moment.

“I want to thank everyone who came to the game, everyone back home that has supported us, everyone that has been a part of this season.”

Mason Beacham, James Hutcheson, and Josiah Smith are the three seniors on this team, and all have been key players on both sides of the ball for this State Championship team.

Sikes led the way with 296 yards and 5 touchdowns on just 11 carries, Josiah Smith added 238 yards on 16 carries with 2 touchdowns, Curl had 30 yards and Hutcheson ran for just 12 yards, but had several plays called back on penalties. Josiah Smith also threw for 109 yards and 2 touchdowns as the Eagles had 661 total yards of offense in the game. John Smith caught 3 passes for 97 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Ethan Sikes broke several big runs during the State Championship Game as he rushed for 296 yards and 5 touchdowns.

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