Archer students cheer on the Tigers prior to kickoff of the first-round of Class AAAAAA state playoff game between Archer and North Forsyth in Lawrenceville on Friday. The Tigers hosted their first-ever playoff game. (Staff Photos: Brendan Sullivan)
LAWRENCEVILLE — A light rain and temperatures in the 40s couldn’t keep Archer fans away Friday.
Not for this special night.
For a school that has celebrated many firsts over the last four years, this was different. When it comes to the South, high school football is special. It’s magnified even more in the state playoffs.
“This game is huge,” Archer athletic director Tim Watkins said. “We’ve had success with softball and wrestling reaching the ultimate prize last year, but there’s something about high school football in Georgia on a Friday night. Everyone in the community is excited.”
There was plenty to be excited about as Archer defeated North Forsyth 34-7 in the first round of the Class AAAAAA state playoffs.
“It’s awesome for our community,” Archer head coach Andy Dyer said. “We have great students and a great administration. It takes a lot to be successful.”
This is the fifth year for Archer, which sits on the east side of Gwinnett off New Hope Road. The school celebrated its first state championships in softball and wrestling last school year.
Now the football team is trying to become the fourth-straight Gwinnett school to win a state title in the highest classification.
“Everyone was excited for this game,” Archer cheerleader Courtney McKelvey said. “It’s our first-ever at home. We’ve had a great season. It’s a big accomplishment for Archer.”
Despite the monumental game, there was nothing special prior to the game. There was no pep rally, no special banners, it was just business as usual like the previous 10 games.
“We try to treat it like any other game,” Archer Touchdown Club President Darrell Bryant said. “There was no special hoo-rah. We want to keep everything the same.”
Friday’s playoff game was the first one at home, but the second time in three years the Tigers had reached the postseason. In 2011 they were the No. 4 seed from Region 8 and they had to face No. 1 seed North Gwinnett on the road. It wasn’t pretty as the Tigers lost 49-3 and finished the year with a 5-6 record.
“It’s a game we’ve put in the memory bank. We’ve moved on from that,” Bryant said.
Archer posted its first winning record at 6-4 last year, but missed the playoffs.
This season has been one to remember. The Tigers are 10-0 and Region 8-AAAAAA champions. That includes victories over perennial powers like Brookwood, Parkview and Grayson.
Everything has really come together this year,” Bryant said. “We’re finally making our mark. We’re 10-0 and the only undefeated team left in AAAAAA.”
Now with the first home playoff game in the books, the Tigers get to do it again next Friday. They will host North Gwinnett in the second round of the playoffs.
“We want to be playing another five weeks,” Bryant said.
Return to gwinnettdailypost.com.