The victory was noteworthy for Mar-Quon Medlock because none of his instincts directed him to an ailing area on his body.
He joined teammates ringing Richmond Academy's victory bell, accepted congratulations and never once stopped to examine his tender right ankle or his balky lower back. He was finally healthy. Armed with shiftiness for the first time since the week of Sept. 11, Medlock had helped lead Richmond Academy to its first state playoff win in 39 years, by six points over Glynn Academy.
"The old Mar-Quon," Richmond Academy coach Chris Hughes called him.
Medlock, a senior quarterback, rushed for 83 yards against Glynn Academy, on a blend of designed sweeps, draws and scrambles. He also threw for three touchdowns. In the previous two games, wins over Evans and Hephzibah, a cautious Medlock rushed four times for just nine yards.
"He played the best I have ever seen him play," said teammate Brandon Griswell, Medlock's teammate the past four years.
Richmond Academy (8-3) will depend on the running and throwing of Medlock again this week. It has one of the longest trips in the state for Friday's 8 p.m. second-round Class AAAA playoff game against five-time state champion Thomas County Central (10-1).
Medlock injured his back against Josey in the third game of the season and wasn't prepared to play a full game until he turned an ankle in the first half of a game against Cross Creek five weeks later. He sat out the majority of his team's surprise loss. He wasn't fully healthy during wins over Hephzibah and Evans, but recharged enough to gain 290 yards of offense in that first-round win over Glynn Academy. The victory left Medlock elated.
"I feel 110 percent," he said.
Medlock's ascension the past three games mirrors his team's rise. He was part of a large group of current seniors that arrived from Langford Middle School, lost one JV game in two years and thought nothing about sticking around to play football even though Richmond Academy had lost 17 games in a row and 36 of 40 between 2004-07.
"They stuck around because they're good character kids," Hughes said. "They knew that things would turn around. They're just good kids who love playing the game, and that's what we've tried to build the program around."
Said Medlock: "The group we had, I knew we were going to do something. That's why everybody stuck around. We had the talent, and we were going to go to work."
Medlock, who has rushed for 463 yards this year, will cross the 1,000-yard passing mark for the second consecutive season if he gets 35 yards against Thomas County Central. The Musketeers, of course, will need much more than 35 yards to defeat a team that dominated its region and hasn't lost since Aug. 28.
"The whole town shuts down to watch them play," Hughes said. "This is something our kids are not used to, but it's going to be exciting. We deserve to be here. We've played well enough to be here."
Reach Matt Middleton at (706) 823-3425 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
GEORGIA, TIMES AT 7:30 UNLESS NOTED
- Westside-Macon at Lakeside
- Richmond Academy at Thomas County Central, 8 p.m.
- Washington County at Peach County
- Thomasville at Jefferson County
- Swainsboro at Fitzgerald
- Eagle's Landing Christian at Lincoln County