FORT VALLEY, Ga. -- All good sports stories end with a winner and a loser. The great stories get a second chapter.
That's the case for the Peach County football team as it has the rare opportunity to avenge a state championship loss just one short year later. After falling to Calhoun in controversial fashion in the GHSA 3A state championship last year, the Trojans and Yellow Jackets are set to square off this Friday night in the semifinal round.
The Trojans have been hoping this day would come all season long.
"It gives you something to work to," senior center Dylan Perry said. "After last year, and all that happened, kind of left a bad taste in your mouth."
While the players recognize the significance of this redemptive rematch, the coaching staff is just trying to view it as the next game on the schedule.
"It just happens to be who it is," head coach Chad Campbell said. "Our goal has been to win a state championship, and they're on our side of the bracket."
Even with the extra fuel to the fire, Peach County came out of the gate in 2018 a little slower than hoped for. The Trojans went 2-2 in their first four games -- with losses to Lee County and Mary Persons -- which showed the team there was plenty of room for improvement.
"At first, we may have came in a little too big headed, we got humbled down pretty quick," Perry said. "Once everybody realized we were beatable, we had to work to get better, and I think we've matured a lot and gotten better."
The schedule would certainly agree -- Peach County has won its last nine straight games by an average of 33 points. The Trojans went undefeated in region play and have carried all of that momentum into the playoffs, reminding all of Georgia that they are still a force to be reckoned with in 3A.
While most of the state is anxiously awaiting this highly anticipated rematch, the Trojans are just focused on getting win number ten.
"You can't focus on what happened in the past," Campbell said. "You've gotta concentrate and focus on your preparation, and what's in store for you."
Peach County's 2017 season ended in heartbreaking fashion at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. In 2018, they have the chance to exact revenge against the team that won round one of this budding rivalry -- and they have the chance to do it in Calhoun's house.
"(It would be) the best feeling ever," Perry said. "Especially to go up to their place and beat them, it's probably the best thing I could think of to get revenge for it."
Peach County and Calhoun are set to kick off at 7:30 p.m. at Calhoun High School, with the winner advancing to the 3A state championship.