By Kevin Price
912 Sports will name a Coastal Pines Technical College Player of the Week each week during the 2020
high school football season.
Meet the winner of this week’s award:
No one who calls Pierce County home will ever forget the significance of Dec. 30, 2020. And,
Daytin Baker will certainly always remember what he was doing on that day.
Baker will quickly be able to tell anyone who doesn’t know what that date means to the folks in
Blackshear that he was helping the community’s high school football team win its first-ever state
championship on the next-to-last day of the calendar year.
Baker, a junior safety for the Bears, intercepted a pass on the first play of overtime which led to
the game-winning touchdown by Pierce on the very next play to send the Bears to a dramatic 13-
7 victory over Oconee County which was followed by a jubilant celebration among all those who
made the trek from South Georgia to Georgia State’s Center Parc Stadium in Atlanta in hopes of
seeing their Bears capture the Class AAA state crown.
The interception by Baker in overtime was his second one of the afternoon. He also picked off a
pass by Oconee quarterback Jacob Wright at the Pierce County 42-yard line late in the second
quarter which helped keep the game scoreless at halftime.
In the opening quarter, Baker also tipped a pass which was intercepted by teammate Allen
Boatright to stop an early scoring threat by the Warriors.
Baker also was credited with two solo tackles, three assists and a quarterback hurry in the victory.
For his overall performance and key plays made, Baker has been chosen as the Coastal Pines
Technical College Player of the Week presented by 912 Sports.
“He’s made plays all year and been close to making a lot more,” said Pierce County head coach
Ryan Herring who just completed his second season with the Bears. “He’s grown up so much. I’m
just so proud of him. He’s such a great kid which makes what he did in the state championship
game so much sweeter for me.”
The Player of the Week award was presented to an outstanding player in the 912 Sports
coverage area each week this season for 17 straight weeks from the opening games through the
state finals last week.
Pierce County players won the last three awards as the Bears made their march to the state
championship. Senior quarterback Jermaine Brewton won the honor for his performance in the
team’s quarterfinal win and senior linebacker Austin Jernigan was named for the award after
returning a fumble for a late game-winning touchdown in the semifinals against Crisp County.
Both the Bears and Warriors took high-scoring offenses into their championship confrontiation,
but both teams also brought seriously strong defenses to the battle, too. Herring was actually
anticipating a low-scoring game with the defenses controlling the action for the most part and he
was spot on as it turned out.
Oconee’s defense was giving up 9.8 points per game going into the title contest while the Bears
were allowing only 9.9.
The Bears finished with 265 total net yards against the Warriors which was well below their
342.5 season average while the Warriors managed only 164 yards against Pierce after averaging
just over 308 yards a game going into the state final. The Bears picked up 10 first downs on the
afternoon while the Warriors finished with eight.
Neither team allowed a point through three quarters . Oconee broke the scoreless tie less than
two minutes into the fourth period on a 13-yard touchdown pass from Wright to Jacob Johnson
and added the extra-point for the 7-0 lead.
Pierce answered the Oconee score on its next offensive series, driving 80 yards in seven plays
and tying the game with 7:23 left on a 5-yard run by D.J. Bell. The drive’s key play was a 45-yard
pass from Brewton to Zay Plummer on on third-and-13 that kept the series alive and moved the
ball from the Pierce 17 to the Oconee 38.
Bell had the biggest day by anyone playing offense as he carried 29 times for 158 yards for the
Bears. He ran for 45 of the Bears’ 68 yards in the first half before running 17 more times for 113
yards after halftime while taking direct snaps from center.
Bell scored from the 15-yard line on the Bears’ first offensive play in overtime following Baker’s
interception, looking to go inside before bouncing outside and racing around the left end and
into the end zone for the winning score.
And Baker set up the touchdown by playing perfect defense when Oconee attempted to throw
toward the end zone on the very first snap of the overtime period.
The Warriors set up on offense first after Pierce won the coin toss and elected to play defense to
start. Wright, their quarterback, was in the shotgun, and the Warriors sent their lone running
back in motion to empty the backfield.
They used Johnson, their 6-foot-6 tight end, as a decoy on the play, sending him up the field from
the left side of the formation. Running what football folks like to call a Rub route, the Warriors
brought another receiver underneath Johnson and wanted to throw a pass to him over the
middle for a possible touchdown.
Pierce was ready for that very play, though. Defensive coordinator Swane Morris drew up the
play for the Bears during pregame, and the Bears were prepared when they pulled it out of the
playbook to start the extra frame.
Baker, knowing it was his assignment to cover the intended receiver, baited the Oconee
quarterback into throwing the ball, came underneath his man, and left his feet to intercept the
ball at the 3-yard line.
“Daytin didn’t fall for the eye-candy,” Herring said. “He undercut his guy and made the play. It’s a
touchdown if he’s not there.”
It was fitting that Baker was there for the Bears who then needed either a field goal or a
touchdown to walk off with the state championship trophy after the junior safety’s interception.
“His biggest asset is that he’s coachable,” Herring said of Baker. “He’s always eager to learn and
do what it takes to win. That’s part of why we won it all. We have a bunch of kids that want to
win. We don’t have the tangibles that some of the other teams have, but we have the
intangibles, things you don’t always see. He’s a perfect example of that.”
Something people might not have seen after the championship game was the photo on social
media that showed Baker wearing his father’s old No. 9 jersey, the one he wore when he played
football at Ware County.
Baker’s dad lost his life in a motorcycle accident, but Baker had his jersey and would always carry
it with him to games. Baker wore No. 9 for the Bears for the first time this season.
And the No. 9 in White last Wednesday is a big reason why the Bears can proudly proclaim they
are No. 1 today.
Players of Week
Week 1 - Shaquan Brooks (Richmond Hill)
Week 2 - Thomas Castellanos (Ware County)
Week 3 - Tony Cobb (Charlton County)
Week 4 - Trent Johnson (McIntosh County Academy)
Week 5 - Mason Mikell (Bacon County)
Week 6 - Tyrease Jones (Brunswick)
Week 7 - Bryson Benton (Appling County)
Week 8 - Jeremy Butler (Ware County)
Week 9 - Nathan Vickers (Richmond Hill)
Week 10 - Ryan Seay (Glynn Academy)
Week 11 - Jordan Triplett (Frederica Academy)
Week 12 - TJ Lewis (Glynn Academy)
First Round - Trevin Wallace (Wayne County)
Second Round - Thomas Castellanos (Ware County)
Quarterfinals - Jermaine Brewton (Pierce County)
Semifinals - Austin Jernigan (Pierce County)
State Finals - Daytin Baker (Pierce County)
By Kevin Price
Bailey Holland committed to play collegiate softball at Georgia Southern University back in early
September, and that announcement was certainly a big moment for the Vidalia standout and her family.
But the rest of the 2020 season had more memorable moments for Holland who also figures to be
headed for a big senior season next fall with the Lady Indians before going on to play for the Eagles in Statesboro.
Helping Vidalia to a huge season this fall that included a berth in the Class AA Final Four, Holland was
named the Region 2-AA Player of the Year following the 2020 campaign. And this week, 912 Sports
has chosen the Vidalia junior for its Coastal Pines Technical College Female Athlete of the Week honor
in recognition of the big season Holland had with the Indians this fall.
“Bailey is exceptional player and an even better teammate,” said Vidalia head coach Brad Thompson.
“Not only is she region player of the year, she has stats to make an argument for player of the year in
(Class) AA. She is the epitome of Indian Pride and scores very high on our Core Values test. Her
presence played a huge role in our success this season.”
In the pitching circle, Bailey was dominant for the Lady Indians. She posted a perfect 6-0 record while
recording a .427 ERA. She struck out 167 batters and walked only 23 in 114 innings while also giving
up just 23 runs and 53 hits on the season. Opponents batted .131 against her for the season.
At the plate, Holland swung a bit bat for the Lady Indians, too. She batted .413 with 45 hits in 109 at-
bats. Holland had 10 extra-base its, scored 30 runs and drove in 28 runs for the Lady Indians.
Vidalia, which won the Region 2-AA championship, finished the season with a 32-6 overall record that
included a 14-1 mark in the league. The Lady Indians swept Lamar County, Jefferson County and
Banks County to win each of their first three best-of-3 state series at home to earn a trip to Columbus
as one of the last four teams standing in Class AA.
The Lady Indians toppled Bremen 8-3 in their opening game in Columbus before falling 3-2 to Heard
County and then 2-0 to Lovett which eliminated them from the state title chase. Heard ended up
beating Lovett for the state crown.
Holland was one of seven Vidalia players who made the all-region team. Thompson was also named
Coach of the Year for the region.
The state players of the year and all-state teams will be named in early December.
Athletes of Week
Week 1 - Avien Trull (Ware County, Softball)
Week 2 - Cheyenne Ryan, Tyler Phillips (South Effingham, Cross Country)
Week 3 - Rebecca DeLoach (Pierce County, Softball)
Week 4 - D’Najah Boyd (Ware County, Volleyball)
Week 5 - Kamari Strozier (Bacon County, Softball)
Week 6 - Natalie Herrin (Pierce County, Softball)
Week 7 - Lily Hidalgo (Glynn Academy, Volleyball)
Week 8 - Savannah Jeffers (Ware County, Softball)
Week 9 - Paige Carter (Jeff Davis, Softball)
Week 10 - Zoie Marchant (Jeff Davis, Cross Country)
Week 11 - Candace Kieffer (Effingham, Cross Country)
Week 12 - Bailey Holland (Vidalia, Softball)