TIGER — The No. 2 ranked Rabun County Wildcats put on an impressive performance on both offense and defense on Friday night, shutting out the visiting Model Blue Devils 35-0 in the second round of the Class AA state playoffs on a cold and wet night at Frank Snyder Stadium.
“We advanced to one more round so it’s a work in progress,” Blue Devils head coach Jeff Hunnicutt said in a phone interview. “This is one of the berst groups I’ve been around. When you have kids who are holding kids accountable and coaches are in that mindset, from a leadership standpoint and the character of these seniors, it was portrayed a lot tonight.”
Quarterback Gunner Stockton, a University of South Carolina commit, led the way for the Wildcats, passing for three touchdowns and running for another. The 6-foot-1, 215-pound junior got Rabun County on the board just three minutes into the game, throwing a 54-yard touchdown pass to Adriel Clark to cap off a 72-yard opening drive. Cesar Armenta’s PAT made it 7-0 with 9:24 left in the first quarter.
The Wildcats (11-1) forced Model to punt on its first drive, and when Rabun County took over again at midfield, the offense marched 50 yards in nine plays, finishing it off with a 12-yard touchdown run by Stockton. The PAT made it 14-0.
Model (7-5) reached the Rabun County 7-yard line on a drive early in the second quarter, but the Wildcats snuffed out a fourth-down run that turned out to be the Blue Devils best scoring opportunity of the night.
Rabun County took over at their own 48 with less than a minute to go before the half, and the Wildcats made the most of the good field position. Stockton threw a 50-yard touchdown pass to Clark as time expired to make it 21-0 at the break.
The Wildcats scored in the third quarter on a 16-yard touchdown pass from Stockton to Clark to increase the lead to 28-0. The final score came with six seconds left in the third period, when tailback Lang Windham ran it in from 11 yards out.
Model finishes with a winning record for the first time since 2016, and Hunnicutt said the season as a whole is something to build on.
“We’ve got to continue to build on this and that starts right back in the weight room Monday morning,” Hunnicutt said. “When COVID hit, we never experienced a true offseason with our kids.”
Model football now says goodbye to a sizable senior class, which leaves Model High School with 12 wins in their final two years.
“We’re going to sit down with each one of them one-on-one,” Hunnicutt said. “I’m going to be that backbone they can talk to outside of their parents and just stress the importance of some of those characteristics we’re trying to build and how to go about life with them.”
Rabun County will advance to host Bleckley County in the quarterfinals in Tiger next week.