WAYNESBORO, Ga. --- Pushed around a season ago early in its schedule, Burke County will not go through this year questioning its toughness.
Eric Parker's team will instead have to deal with some soaring expectations, because its spirits are flying after the first four games.
Terrell Brigham had 321 yards of offense and four touchdowns in Burke County's 36-26 win over Brunswick on Friday night. Burke County is 4-0 for the first time since 1991, recording four nonregion wins over larger-classification opponents. Brunswick was probably the best of that group, because the Pirates' only loss came to defending Class AAAA state champion Tucker in overtime.
Brigham, the reigning area player of the year, completed passes to eight receivers and finished 13 of 14 for 137 yards. He rushed for 184 yards on 28 carries, often taking the snap from the shotgun and smashing into the line for large chunks of yardage.
He threw touchdown passes to Montres Kitchens, Orlando Howard and Nick Bostic, none longer than 17 yards.
"Our offense works best when it's efficient. We're throwing short stuff, take our shots every now and then ... we're misdirecting, we're playing good football," Parker said. "We put up a lot of points. This wasn't a bad football team."
The teams combined for 27 points in the opening quarter, but only Burke County was able to score consistently after that. All but three of the Bears' eight possessions -- throwing out their final one, a one-play quarterback kneel down -- ended in touchdowns. They punted once. Burke County has scored at least 35 points in all but one of its first four games.
"They've been like that all year; it wasn't just against us," Brunswick coach Victor Floyd said. "They got a good squad. Quarterback's a good player, and the offense fits him."
It took Brunswick more than 20 minutes to score again after its first two possessions resulted in quick touchdowns.
"We started shooting ourselves in the foot ... the little things were just killing us," Floyd said. "That messed up the groove, and we never got going again. But they did some good things defensively."
Burke County went 2-2 last year against this same nonregion schedule, then was ousted in the second round of the playoffs by a team Parker felt out-toughed the Bears.
Burke County can no longer think that label applies, not after winning its first four games by an average of 12.8 points.
"Coming out being able to play at this level gives us a lot of confidence going into region play," said Parker, whose team begins its Region 3-AAA schedule next week at home against defending champion Baldwin.
"It doesn't do anything for getting us in the playoffs or giving us a seed. It just gives us confidence going in."
Reach Matt Middleton at (706) 823-3425 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
BURKE COUNTY 36, BRUNSWICK 26
PLAY OF THE GAME: Pick any of Terrell Brigham 's touchdown passes. His final one was a 2-yard jump pass to tight end Nick Bostic that looked straight out of the University of Florida's playbook.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Brigham accounted for four touchdowns and 321 yards of offense (184 rushing, 137 passing). He also broke up a pass on fourth down early in the second quarter that prevented a Brunswick first down.
WHY BURKE COUNTY WON: Its offense was unstoppable behind Brigham, moving the ball between the tackles and on the outside.
WHY BRUNSWICK LOST: It moved the ball well (22 first downs) but lost two fumbles in Bears' territory.
NEXT: Burke County (4-0) opens its Region 3-AAA schedule at home against Baldwin, Friday, 7:30 p.m.