The banners and blue that covered the home stands of Woodard-Tuggle Stadium on Thursday gave a glimpse of how the Model faithful will act when their Blue Devils take the field tonight.
With fans cheering and the marching band playing, Model head coach Gordon Powers was taking it all in from the football field.
“This is what community is about,” Powers said.
“We’ve got a great school and a great community. They’ve been hungry for a long time for a good football team and we’ve given them a good team for the last three or four years.”
Now they’ve given them their first home state playoff game in 36 years.
A community pep rally Thursday drew a large crowd to honor the Model football teams, both past and present, and officially kick off a “blue-out” for the Blue Devil’s first-round game against Wesleyan tonight.
Part of the program featured players from the school’s 1953, 1954 and 1979 state championship teams. The 1979 team defeated Lincoln County 24-21 on a 24-yard field goal from Norris Allen with two seconds left in the game.
While Model has been to the playoffs since then, that was the last time the Blue Devils played a postseason game in Shannon.
“We were a lot of guys who had a lot of desire, a lot of heart and a great coaching staff,” Allen said while addressing the crowd. “That’s the same thing that these guys have down here.”
Model (9-1) finished second in Region 7-AA with its only loss coming against region champ Darlington in a 28-22 thriller.
With quarterback Kyler Eldridge and running back Chris Dublin leading the way, the Blue Devils’ offense has been consistent and Model has scored 33 or more points in the last four games.
Wesleyan (8-2) nearly upset Greater Atlanta Christian for the Region 6-AA title last week and wound up third in the standings after a coin flip broke a three-way tie.
“Wesleyan has a great reputation on defense and we’re going to have to be consistent,” Powers said. “We’re going to have to be hard-nosed and take what they give us on defense.”
That could be a tall order considering the Wolves have only allowed more than nine points in a game three times this season.
Add to that quarterback Banks Ramsey, who threw for 389 yards and two touchdowns in Wesleyan’s 35-31 loss to GAC.
Powers said he knows they have their work cut out for them, but his players are prepared for it.
“They know everybody has a shot at the state championship and our kids are mature enough to understand what they have to do to get ready,” Powers said.
“We knew going in it didn’t matter who we were going to play because the top four in that region are all very good.”