I was able to attend the 70th meeting of the Bremen High Blue Devils vs the Bowdon High Red Devils on Friday night. The two teams have a very long history dating all the way back to 1936. According to GHSFA.org, they first played in 1936 and 1937, and have played every year since 1954. Bowdon was 43-26 in the 69 games coming into Friday night. A huge reason for this dominance is the 18 year span (1988-2005) where they won 20 games in a row vs Bremen.
As of late, the dominance has not been all Bowdon. In the last 10 games leading up to Friday, each team had won 5 games. Last year, Bowdon defeated Bremen 33-28. This first ever meeting was won by Bremen, 33-0.
My research tells me that Bowdon and Bremen is the second oldest and richest high school football rivalry in the state behind Gordon Lee and Trion, sorry Bowdon and Bremen fans. These two teams have played a total of 77 times, this year will be the 78th meeting. They started the rivalry in 1933, and have played every year since then besides 1943 and 1945 due to the war.
As you can see, a lot was on the line for these kids on Friday night in the 80 year anniversary of the first ever match up between the schools. Immediately upon arriving at the field, I knew that this game was going to be a thriller. The atmosphere was electric and the athletes provided an excellent game to watch.
The game started off with Bremen receiving the ball and the first drive consisted of a heavy dose of sophomore RB Tyran Dobbs. Sophomore Quarterback Wade Cartwright also hit sophomore receiver Jalen Dallas and Dallas scurried down the sideline for a gain of about 30 yards.
With this combination of running and passing, the Blue Devils moved the ball all the way down to the Bowdon 17 and were facing a 3rd and 2. Then, they were able to get Bowdon to commit a crucial offside penalty that gave them a new set of downs on the 12 yard line.
Shortly after, senior RB Kyle Bailey took it in for the score to give his team a 6-0 lead, the XP was missed. This capped off a 62 yard opening scoring drive and put the Blue Devils on the board with only a couple minutes ticked off the clock.
The opening drive for Bowdon did not start as well as it did for Bremen. The Red Devils started on their own 31 yard line. After a negative play and a sack, they were facing a 3rd and very long. Senior Quarterback Dylan Raymond, filling in for the injured starter Cason Parmer, scrambled out to try for the 1st on this 3rd down but was taken down hard in what looked like a horse collar. The referees did not throw the flag and the Bowdon coach was absolutely furious.
He let his emotions get the best of him and the referee threw a personal foul on the coach. Luckily for Bowdon, Bremen was caught with a defensive holding on the play, and this Gave Bowdon another shot on 3rd down. Unfortunately for the Bowdon fans, Raymond was sacked again and this forced a punt on 4th down.
Bowdon’s offense was only on the sideline for a short period of time as their defense gave them back the ball by recovering a fumble. However, they could not capitalize. In fact, they did the exact opposite. A bad snap forced Raymond to take a safety and this gave the Blue Devils an 8-0 lead over their cross-town rivals.
Bremen then took back over after the safety, but Bowdon’s defense gave them another chance after forcing and recovering their second fumble of the game. This was the last action of the 1st quarter.
This fumble led directly to points as it gave the Red Devils excellent field position. #4, Sophomore RB Aaron Beasley, received a big workload on this drive as well as the whole game. After multiple Beasley runs, The Red Devils were in prime position to take a shot at the endzone.
#2, Senior RB Tay Sheppard, capitalized on his opportunity as he made a play on the ball and caught a fade in the endzone amidst two Bremen defenders. This 19 yard touchdown and successful 2-PT conversion tied the game up at 8.
Bremen then took over but was forced to punt as they could not get anything going. This gave Bowdon the ball with 6:46 to play in the 1st half. The Red Devils got a big break as they tried a reverse pass that fell incomplete, but a pass interference was called on Bremen.
This penalty allowed Bowdon to move the ball to midfield. After three plays, Bowdon was facing a 4th and inches. Bremen’s defense came up huge on this play as they stuffed the Bowdon 4th down attempt and took back over with 4:11 left in the 1st half.
Bowdon’s defense then came in the clutch yet again as they intercepted a pass and took it 48 yards for a pick-6. #12, junior CB Kyle Franklin, read this play perfectly and jumped a screen pass to take it to the house. You could tell that the Bowdon coaches had their players ready for that play by watching film. After the 2-pt conversion attempt failed, Bowdon found themselves up 14-8 with 2:55 left to play in the 2nd quarter.
This was the last action of the 1st half as the two teams went into the break with Bowdon up 14-8. At halftime, Bremen had 115 yards of total offense and Bowdon had only 35. The difference was the three turnovers that Bowdon forced, one of which gave them a very short field on their scoring drive.
The third quarter started with Bowdon receiving the ball and keeping it for quite some time. They ate up almost 8 minutes off the clock on this drive and it moved them inside Bremen’s 10 yard line. The drive would have ended much earlier, but Bremen roughed the punter allowing Bowdon to extend it.
They faced another 3rd down later in the drive but Raymond connected with Sheppard for a 21 yard gain that moved them into the red zone. However, once finally inside the Bremen 10 yard line, Bowdon fumbled the ball and Bremen recovered.
QB Dylan Raymond was in shotgun formation as he received a high snap that he only got one hand on. This forced the ball up into the air and once it came down, there were a slew of Bremen defenders that had surrounded Raymond. This ended the almost 8 minute drive that resulted in zero points.
Bremen’s ensuing drive lasted into the 4th quarter and opened it up with a 3rd and 9. They could not convert on this 3rd down and were forced to punt the ball back to Bowdon. However, the Bremen defense then stepped up and forced Bowdon to punt the ball back to the Blue Devils with 9:10 left in the 4th quarter.
After a couple of plays, Bremen’s Kyle Bailey exploded up the middle, ran over multiple defenders, and then outran multiple defenders down the sideline for a 45 yard touchdown run. I must say, this was one of the greatest runs I had ever seen in person. Props to you, Kyle.
The chance to go ahead was missed as the XP sailed wide left, leaving the game tied at 14 with 6:27 left to play. Now, it was Bowdon’s turn to try to get the offense going and get some points on the board.
The Red Devils then went with what they had done all game, pound the ball to Aaron Beasley. Soon after taking over, Bowdon was on Bremen’s 28 yard line with a fresh set of downs and 4:15 to go in the game.
After using excellent clock management skills, the Red Devils got down within the 15 yard line. Then, penalties forced them backwards and into a 4th and 19 situation on Bremen’s 22 yard line.
A lot of pressure was on both teams before this play. If you are Bowdon, you can score and effectively put the game out of reach. If you are Bremen, you can stop them and give your offense the ball with under a minute, 3 timeouts, and 78 yards to go.
Bowdon’s coach utilized the size his receiver had on the defensive back as he dialed up another fade to the right corner of the endzone. #32, senior receiver Daniel Gibbs who is also a baseball star, became the hero for Bowdon that night as he out jumped the defense and came down with the ball for a Bowdon touchdown. This gave his team the 20-14 lead with only 31.6 seconds left. The XP was missed, and Bremen now had 80 yards to go with only half a minute remaining.
Nothing substantial really happened on this last drive for Bremen as the Bowdon defense only had to rush 3, giving Bremen little room for error. In what looked like the last play, Kyle Bailey caught a pass and was tackled near the Bremen sideline. The Bowdon students rushed the field, but were stopped by the coaches and ordered back to the stands as there was a flag on the play.
The penalty gave Bremen one last shot for a miracle, but their laterals backwards did not prove successful and Bowdon came out on top, 20-14.
Bowdon’s QB Dylan Raymond finished 6-of-9 with 95 yards and two touchdowns. Bremen’s QB Wade Cartwright finished 10-of-16 with roughly 90 yards and one interception. I say roughly because I was keeping my own stats this game, which I found to be very tough.
Bowdon had three running backs that carried the ball in the game. The majority of the workload was handled by Aaron Beasley who finished carrying the ball 18 times for roughly 70 yards. #3, senior RB Jamal Wyatt, had 4 carries for 15 yards and Tay Sheppard had 4 carries for only one yard.
Bremen’s Tyran Dobbs had the bulk of the carries for his team. He carried it 12 times for 57 yards. #32, senior RB Tee Brown, was the short yardage guy and he carried the ball 6 times for 29 yards. Kyle Bailey, the biggest and fastest of all the running backs on Bremen’s roster, carried the ball 6 times for 73 yards and two touchdowns. He was also a starter on defense, so I believe this is why his carries were limited.
Tay Sheppard did lead the Red Devils in receiving in the game as he caught 3 of Raymond’s 6 completions for 58 yards and one touchdown. All of his receptions were more than 18 yards, proving him to be the big play guy for Bowdon. Jamal Wyatt caught 2 passes for 15 yards and Daniel Gibbs caught one pass, the biggest of them all, for 22 yards and a touchdown. Bremen’s Jalen Dallas caught 4 passes for 34 yards and Kyle Bailey caught 3 passes for 33 yards.
The Red Devils improved their record to 44-26 all-time vs Bremen and 1-0 on the year. The Player’s Jug and the Warren P. Sewell Memorial Trophy (In Honor of the Greatest High School Football Rivalry in Georgia) will be housed in the offices of the Bowdon football staff for at least one more year.
Bremen falls to 0-1 on the year. Head Coach Robert Andrews of Bowdon is now 2-0 vs Bremen and Coach Davis Russell and the Blue Devils will have a chance to win their first game on their new field September 9th vs Trion.
Next week, Bremen will travel to Mt. Paran Christian High School in Kennesaw in search of their first win and Bowdon will travel to Troup County in LaGrange to take on the Tigers.
I had a great time attending this historic rivalry. The atmosphere of the stadium really made it more enjoyable to watch, and I’m sure more enjoyable to play. I look forward to attending another high school game next week.