Dacula flying high after dramatic playoff win

To Dacula head coach Kevin Maloof, it was something from another time, a simpler time, when communities and schools rallied feverishly around their football teams.

Saturday night, in the impossible-to-get-to hamlet of Kingsland, Dacula fans, parents and students showed up in droves to watch their Falcons upset the No. 1 Camden County Wildcats 10-7 to reach the semifinals of the Class AAAAA playoffs.

"The student body showed a spirit you saw back in the '60s," Maloof said. "And that was a great place to play a high school football game.

"Our fans showed up, our student body was unbelievable, our band and cheerleaders were there. Our entire student section, our parents, they were just unbelievable. Very rarely do I hear the crowd during the course of a game, but on Saturday night it was hard not to hear our crowd. ... I'm just so proud of our community and our school."

And of course his football team, which is in the semifinals for the first time since 1990, when Dacula was a Class A school.

Camden came into the game undefeated, averaging 45.5 points per game and 285 rushing yards per


The 12-1 Falcons were obviously far from intimidated.

They limited the high-scoring Wildcats to less than 200 yards of total offense in the win, including just 70 in the first half.

"We're not very big (on defense), but we matched up well with them," Maloof said. "We were as quick as they were. Their backs are fast, but everybody on our defense runs well.

"A lot of their plays start off east and west and then they find a seam. The key was not giving the wing backs the seam to get up in, and it allowed our pursuit to make plays."

Dacula came very close to pitching a shutout in fact. Punter Joe Carithers slipped on his own 19-yard line with less than five minutes remaining, and Camden scored on the very next play. Other than that, the Wildcats were kept out of the end zone all night long.

Not a bad effort from a Falcons' team that had to take a bus ride to Jacksonville on Friday night, spend all day Saturday in a Holiday Inn and then travel up to Kingsland to take on one of the top programs in the state.

"It was a great experience for our kids," Maloof said. "I'm just so proud of them that it was not a distraction. They knew why they were down there, and they handled themselves tremendously. You never know how 16-, 17-, 18-year-old kids are going to do dealing with that for the first time, but I just had a great feeling all day."

A great feeling that turned into a fantastic one a few hours later, when the Falcons put the finishing touches on one of the biggest wins in school history.