Glennville Recreation Department’s 8U All-Star team traveled to Hawkinsville last Saturday, November 18, 2023, to compete in the Georgia Recreation and Parks Association (GRPA) District 1 Tournament. This tournament displays the best recreation teams in the area to battle for the chance to represent District 1 at the State Tournament. This year showcased ten teams that hoped to earn the right to call themselves the best team in District 1.
The start of the tournament was a real test for the players and parents alike due to two hours of travel and a cold, rainy forecast. Glennville's boys were matched up with host Hawkinsville for round 1. Despite these less-than-ideal weather conditions, Head Coach Chris Stanfield and the rest of the Glennville coaching staff did a great job of getting the Glennville 8U players fired up before kickoff. Glennville played extremely well in all phases of the game that led to a 24-0 victory over Hawkinsville in round 1.
The Glennville 8U All-Stars returned to Hawkinsville on Wednesday, November 15, for the semi-final round against Screven County. The winner of this game would secure a District Tournament Championship berth, a feat that no Glennville 8U football team has accomplished before. Screven County has always been a tough competitor in District 1 play and proceeded to be so with a win against Dodge County in round 1.
However, the Glennville 8U defense continued to be a force to be reckoned with by not allowing a single point for the second straight game. The offense, led by quarterback Caleb Thompson, continued to efficiently drive down the field to secure four touchdowns. When the clock hit zero, the scoreboard read “Glennville 27, Screven County 0.” The well-attended Glennville side erupted as they secured a spot in the Championship game.
On Thursday, November 16, the Glennville 8U travelled back to Hawkinsville to compete in what was likely one of the biggest games of their short athletic careers. Unlike the previous two contests, the weather was perfect. Fans were treated to a beautiful sunset as kickoff approached. The stage was set. Glennville is coming off of two strong wins, but they are facing a very talented Jefferson County team. Jefferson County has scored more points than any other team in the tournament to this point.
Jefferson County would get the ball first to start off the game. The next two plays would set off a roller coaster of emotions for both teams. Jefferson County led off with a misdirection run play that was blown up in the backfield by Jeremiah Harris for a loss of around five yards. However, on play number two, the momentum completely swung around as Jefferson County perfectly executed a reverse that ended in a long touchdown run. Instead of losing confidence from surrendering an early touchdown, Coach Stanfield and the coaching staff kept the boys motivated as evidenced by a quick score of their own by running back Karter McNeal. After a successful two-point conversion the score was even at 8-8.
After what appeared to be a shootout to start the game, both defenses put together some key stops that kept the score even until just before halftime. The halftime speech given by Coach Stanfield must have been legendary. The Glennville 8U boys played "lights out" the rest of the night en route to a 34-14 victory and make their mark as the best football team that District 1 has to offer. This marks the second straight year that Glennville has earned a district championship, with Glennville’s 10U team taking the title in 2022.
“I am immensely proud of these young men and their coaches. This accomplishment is setting the standard for those that come behind them. I cannot say enough to express my gratitude for the job that Coach Chris Stanfield, Coach Seth Edwards, Coach Confesor Diaz, and Coach Joseph Holloway have done to prepare our boys for the battles on the football field and in life. I also cannot say thank you enough to the parents of these young men. They made sure their athlete was at every practice and game in preparation for this achievement, even if it meant driving two hours to sit in the freezing rain on a Saturday! Lastly, I am very thankful for the young men who have been working their tails off the last two months, listened to coaches, and gave all their effort to this team. This was a memorable experience, but we’re not done yet!” said Glennville Recreation Director Logan McCullough.
The Glennville 8U All-Stars will play in the GRPA State Tournament hosted by Tift County Recreation Department on December 2 at 10 a.m. against District 3 Champion Dooly County.