Richmond Academy coach Chris Hughes knows the way to South Georgia.
"It's almost like you go to the end of the earth and hang a right," he said. "It's a long way away."
Hughes is hoping the Musketeers are not making travel plans late Friday night. What's on the line in Richmond Academy's Region 3-AAAA game against Evans on Friday is clear: the loser hits the road for a long playoff trip against a team from the southern part of the state; the winner plays host to a first-round game.
"That makes this game a big deal," Hughes said. "It will be a big deal for us."
It will also be a big deal for the winning school's booster club, which stands to gain hundreds of dollars. A first-round playoff game usually means a large gate, which is split among teams after expenses (visiting team travel, officials' cost) are paid and a 12 percent cut is given to the Georgia High School Association. But the schools get to keep booster-run concession stand revenue, which coaches said will easily exceed $1,000 on a playoff night. In front of a large crowd against Lakeside this season, Hughes said the gate exceeded $14,000 and the school sold out of some concession items by halftime.
With a loss, Richmond Academy likely would be staring down a trip to Ware County, the probable Region 2-AAAA champion. Waycross, Ga., is 175 miles from downtown Augusta. Hughes said his team will rent two charter buses if that trip is needed.
The Musketeers are counting on avoiding such a trip, after their 35-13 win over playoff-bound Hephzibah last week. Richmond Academy outscored the Rebels 21-3 in the second half, taking advantage of two turnovers deep in Hephzibah territory.
"They responded to adversity," Evans coach Marty Jackson said. "They made big plays whenever they had to."
Evans, meanwhile, hasn't lost since Lakeside's 17-0 win on Sept. 4. A Knights win this week likely means Lakeside and Evans would finish tied atop the standings at 8-1, though the Panthers would earn the region's top playoff seed because of their head-to-head win. Evans, since it beat Hephzibah, can finish no worse than third in the region. A loss to Richmond Academy would probably give Evans a first-round playoff trip to Brunswick.
Evans routed Cross Creek 49-18 last week and has scored at least 28 points in every game this season outside of the Lakeside shutout.
"Watching them on film, they're playing better than anyone," Hughes said.
Reach Matt Middleton at (706) 823-3425 or firstname.lastname@example.org.