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Patriots Roll, Finish Regular Season 9-1

Conyers — If Friday was any indication of how the Heritage football team is going to play in the postseason, teams throughout Class AAAA better watch out. Sophomore quarterback Ryan Sutton passed for 184 yards and a touchdown as the Patriots finished the best regular season in school history at 9-1 with a 35-18 victory over Madison County.

The Heritage win, coupled with Clarke Central’s 38-35 win over previously-unbeaten Flowery Branch in Athens sets up a unique situation in Region 8-AAAA. All three teams finished 9-1 and will share the region’s regular season championship. The playoff seeding for the top three teams (Habersham Central is the No. 4 seed) will be determined Saturday morning at 7:30 a.m. at Loganville High School as the school’s principal, and region president Nathan Franklin will pull the names of the three schools out of a hat, and the first name pulled will be the league's No. 1 seed.

“We’re just excited to have the opportunity to be in this position. It’s fun,” said Heritage coach Chad Frazier, who is the first coach in school history to both win a region title and take teams to the state playoffs in consecutive seasons. “First of all, being a region champion is huge for these kids and our school, our program, and then that is worth taking the chance on being a three (seed), that’s the worst case scenario. To me it’s still worth being a region champion, so I’m excited.”

Heritage jumped on top right away with a 14-point opening quarter. Sutton found Quami Stanley streaking down the field for a 44-yard touchdown early in the first quarter to give the Patriots the first lead of the game, then Hakeem Lewis had 29 all-purpose yards on four touches during a quick drive that ended with the senior fullback’s one-yard touchdown plunge.

On the first play of the second quarter, Lewis scored again, this time from five yards to make it a 21-0 game. Late in the first half, Steven Everson made a circus catch down the sideline to set the Patriots up at the Madison 15. With one second to play, Sutton connected with Tyler Weaver for a 15-yard score and a 28-3 halftime cushion.

Jakeem Martin had a memorable senior night, scoring from three yards early in the third to put Heritage up 35-3.

Madison County, which finished 2-8, scored twice late in the game when Alex Jordan threw touchdown passes to Cody Harbin (six yards) and Trey Burton (60 yards).

The last Patriots squad to win as many regular season games was the 2002 team, which went 8-2 under current Madison County head man Randell Owens. The Conyers school also reached the nine-win plateau for the first time since 1986. Now, the Patriots will try to reach double digit wins for the first time in school history when the state playoffs begin November 11. First, though, they've got a shot at a top seed.

"We'll all meet at 7:30 (at Loganville)," Frazier said.