My 33 Years of Warner Robins Football

100_0444This week as the Warner Robins High School football team prepares for the state championship game against Rome on Friday, I wanted to take a look back at my 33 years of following the team.  Some would say I’m not your typical fan since Warner Robins High School is not my alma mater but I adopted them as my high school team when I moved to Warner Robins, Georgia in 1984.

IN THE BEGINNING….

As most of you know through either following my blog or knowing me personally, I am a huge fan of Georgia High School football. My dad took me to Clinch County football games growing up and later I followed Villa Rica when I attended school there from my 8th to 10th grades.  Although I live in Nashville, Tennessee now, I still keep up with my pigskin obsession thanks today’s social media and technology.

When I left Villa Rica High School before my junior year, my parents moved to Savannah where I finished high school at Tompkins High School. I never got into the football team at Tompkins.  It was nothing like it had been at Villa Rica.  Even if I had followed the Tompkins Wolverines, I would be a football orphan now since the school closed in 1989.

After graduation, I left home for the Air Force. After tours in Abilene, Texas and Thule, Greenland, I found my way back to Georgia in 1984 when I was stationed at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia. I already knew about the reputation of Warner Robins football.  They had were state and national champions in 1976 and 1981.  They were up there with the top football programs in the state.  Naturally, I was excited to attend my first game on November 30, 1984 when Warner Robins played Valdosta in the state playoffs. Although Warner Robins lost the game 28-0, I was hooked and couldn’t wait until the start of the 1985 season.

I had officially adopted the Warner Robins Demons as my football team.

MY FIRST SEASON…

I attended every home game the next season. I took my first road trip with the team to Lowndes when Warner Robins played the Vikings and won a hard fought 8-7 game in the playoffs.  The next week I wasn’t able to attend the state semifinal game against Bradwell Institute due to being out in the field for a military exercise; however, I managed to tune into the game on the radio while I was huddled around a pot belly stove in a tent. Warner Robins won and the next week I drove to Athens to attend the state championship game against Clarke Central. That was the coldest game I believe I have ever attended. I also took a date with me that night.  A Clarke Central fan yelled at our heads every time their team did anything positive on the field.  Warner Robins lost the game 21-7 and it was a long drive back home. It was another loss in a personal way as the date I took to the game informed me that she was interested in someone else on the drive back to Warner Robins.  Ouch.

UPS AND DOWNS…

The next time Warner Robins played in the state championship game was in 1988. It was a great season and an exciting atmosphere for the game. Tickets were hard to get and I ended up bringing a blanket although I stood the whole time as Warner Robins beat Brookwood for the title.

Winning was always fun. Warner Robins has done that a lot. The next season, the Demons continued their winning ways and even found themselves as the top ranked team in the nation in USA Today as they entered the final game of the regular season.  The final game was the annual rivalry game against Northside Warner Robins.

If winning was fun, the sting of a defeat was hard to take but none more than that night. Northside stunned Warner Robins 7-6 in that game. Warner Robins scored late but missed the extra point. I remember literally rolling around on the ground in disbelief along with the fans around me. That was a tough one to take even though Warner Robins beat Northside a week later in the region playoffs.  No one ever talks about that one.

Of course, I ended up becoming a season ticket holder and had the best seat I could possibly have to watch all the home games at Imternational City Stadium (now known as McConnell-Talbert Stadium a.k.a. “The Mac”). I had also moved to a house which was in easy walking distance of the stadium.  Those were some of the best years.  I loved that walk to the game.  And, if you don’t know me, you have to understand that I HAD to be in my seat before kickoff.  I never liked being late.  Someone once told me that they would still start the game even if I wasn’t there.  That’s true but I always had to be there and that person was just a hater anyway.

When Northside was having their championship years I would go to their games when the season was over for Warner Robins.  I supported them as they represented the city but I never considered myself a fan.  I was happy when Northside finally shook off the years of choking and finally winning their state titles.  I have always hoped that Warner Robins and Northside would meet one day in the state championship game.  It almost happened in 2011 but they both lost in the semifinals.

THE DEMON MASCOT…

So what about that nickname?  The Demons?

Most of my church were Northside fans and I got a lot of grief at times for supporting a team called the “demons”. Some even went as far to claim people were worshipping the Demon who shot out fireworks after the team scored.  No, that doesn’t happen.  People need to lighten up.  Nobody is worshipping demons at the games.   I will admit that I never liked the name Demons but I certainly don’t cheer a demon. I have always supported the players not what their mascot is and I don’t go overboard with Demon stuff.  There is something about hearing the P.A. announcer declaring:  “Touchdown Demons!” and seeing that demon in the end zone shooting fireworks from his pitchfork.  Okay, I know how that sounds but no one is worshipping demons.

FROM SPECTATOR TO REPORTER…

In the mid-1990s, my attendance of Warner Robins’ games was limited when worked a part-time job as a sports writer for local newspapers.  I began with the Macon Telegraph then briefly with the Warner Robins Daily Sun and finally the short-lived Herald.  Instead of watching Warner Robins’ games, I was covering both public and private schools.  I can say it now that covering private school games in the GISA was nothing like Warner Robins football.  Fortunately, I did have an opportunity to cover a few Warner Robins’ games during my sports reporter days.  I remember my first time and how excited I was to interview Warner Robins Coach Robert Davis.  But I won’t lie to you, I felt pretty intimidated to get the chance to interview a coaching legend like Davis.  I knew better than to ask any stupid reporter questions.  In that first post-game interview, it turned out that there was a feud going on between Davis and the Daily Sun.  The Sun had reported some negative news about some players that week.  When I joined the Sun’s reporter to interview Davis, Davis refused to answer the Sun but, instead, looked directly at me and answered my questions.  I was pretty smart to not ask anything about Mazzio’s Pizza and his football players. Yes, that was a hot topic then.  My last Warner Robins’ game as a reporter was covering the 1995 semifinal game at the Georgia Dome.  Warner Robins lost to SW DeKalb that night 7-0 and I walked with the players as they exited the field to a barrage of insults from the SW DeKalb fans.  I can’t repeat what they said to the players.

BACK TO NORMAL…

I eventually went back to my fulltime job and got back into being a regular fan at Warner Robins’ football games.  In 1997, I braved the rain as Central Macon ended Warner Robins’ 64-game winning streak over Macon schools.  As I was sitting there under my rain soaked poncho in anguish, one of the coaches’ wives asked who did I have playing in the game.  Of course, I had no one.  I was just a crazy fan.  Some would say I still am.

THE FASTING SEASON…

Perhaps the strangest season for me was the 2004 season.  The team had come off a disappointing 6-4 season where they had missed the playoffs for the first time since 1978.  Before the season started, I got caught up in some religious teaching about fasting.  Most of the time fasting related to going without food for spiritual reasons but a preacher had taught that fasting wasn’t just from food but from anything a person is willing to sacrifice.   Yes, you know where this is heading.   I decided to “fast” Warner Robins football games for the 2004 season.  I didn’t watch or listen to the games.  Of course, that was the year Warner Robins won their last state championship.   So if you are wondering if the “fasting” worked?  It did although the results did not come immediately.  But, I never “fasted” any games ever again.

MY LAST GAME…

The last Warner Robins game I attended in person was on October 30, 2009.  It was the annual Warner Robins-Northside game.  Northside came into the game undefeated while Warner Robins was 5-3.  Northside jumped out to a 20-0 lead.  All seemed lost but the Demons rallied in the fourth quarter and late in the game the quarterback heaved a pass downfield that was caught for a touchdown and a thrilling 21-20 win.

 

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My last Warner Robins game – a thrilling 21-20 win over Northside in 2009

 

VIRTUAL FAN…

Due to changes in my life, I have not been able to attend another football game but I have tuned in almost every game on either the radio or the Internet broadcast of the games.  I am thankful for modern technology because I can follow the team even living here in Nashville, Tennessee.  I have listened to every broadcast again this season.  My wife laughs at hearing me and the ups and downs of “attending” the games in my office.  The 2017 season has been a very exciting season.  Warner Robins will be playing for their 5th state championship on Friday.  The game will be played at 3:30 p.m. my time so I am either going to have to take off from work or have the game in my ear while I’m working.

That has been my life for the past 33 seasons of following the Warner Robins Demons football team.  I thought moving away would change things but it hasn’t.  There is just something about Warner Robins football on Friday nights in the fall.  It’s something that will always be a part of my life.  Yes, it’s high school football but this is just my thing.  Win or lose on Friday, I will being looking ahead to the 34th year.

 

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Georgia High School Football Weekly (12/6/17)

lee-glynn
Lee County overcomes 38-21 deficit in 4th Quarter to defeat Glynn Academy in semifinals

It is championship weekend at the Mercedes-Benz Dome in Atlanta as each classification will be crowning champions.  Here are the results from last week’s semifinal games:

  • Class 7A
    • Colquitt County 31, Brookwood 14
    • North Gwinnett 38, McEachern 17
  • Class 6A
    • Coffee 14, Tucker 3
    • Lee County 42, Glynn Academy 38
  • Class 5A
    • Rome 45, Buford 7
    • Warner Robins 31, Carver-Atlanta 7
  • Class 4A
    • Marist 35, St. Pius X 14
    • Blessed Trinity 28, Mary Persons 7
  • Class 3A
    • Peach County 28, Greater Atlanta Christian 23
    • Calhoun 14, Cedar Grove 6
  • Class 2A
    • Rabun County 23, Brooks County 12
    • Hapeville Charter 28, Heard County 21
  • Class 1A (Private)
    • Eagle’s Landing Christian 55, Prince Avenue Christian 0
    • Athens Academy 14, Mount Paran Christian 7
  • Class 1A (Public)
    • Clinch County 23, Mount Zion-Carroll 20
    • Irwin County 38, Emanuel County Institute 35

Here is the schedule for this week’s state championship games:

  • Class 7A – Colquitt County vs. North Gwinnett (Saturday at 8 pm)
    • Colquitt County probably shocked a lot of Atlanta area folks with their win over Brookwood.  The Packers outscored the Broncos 21-0 in the second half.
    • Colquitt County is seeking their fourth state championship.  They last won it in 2015.
    • North Gwinnett is looking for their first title.
    • Colquitt County leads the series 2-1.
    • Last year:
      • Colquitt County lost to Grayson in the quarterfinals
      • North Gwinnett lost to South Gwinnett in the first round.
    • Championship Game Records:
      • Colquitt County (3-2)
        • 1991 – lost to LaGrange 17-16
        • 1994 – defeated Valdosta 23-10
        • 2010 – lost to Brookwood 52-38
        • 2014 – defeated Archer 28-24
        • 2015 – defeated Roswell 30-13
      • North Gwinnett (0-2)
        • 2007 – lost to Lowndes 34-6
        • 2013 – lost to Norcross 31-14
  • Class 6A – Coffee vs. Lee County (Friday at 8 pm)
    • Coffee took advantage of key Tucker turnovers to advance to their first state championship game.  Lee County trailed 38-21 in the fourth quarter but four turnovers by Glynn Academy helped the Trojans make a dramatic comeback to win.
    • Coffee leads the all-time series 4-2.  The two teams come from the same region.  Lee County won their regular season meeting 23-7.
    • Last year:
      • Coffee lost to Dalton in the quarterfinals
      • Lee County lost to Mays in the second round
    • Championship game records:  First game for both teams
  • Class 5A – Rome vs. Warner Robins (Friday at 4:30 pm)
    • Rome ended Buford’s state record of 10 semifinal wins as they dominated the Wolves.  Warner Robins had key interceptions, the final one by Ke’Shawn Duvall for a 55-yard touchdown.
    • Warner Robins is looking for their fifth state title.
    • Rome won the title last year.
    • Rome has outscored its opponents 223-30 in the playoffs.
    • Warner Robins won the only meeting between the schools in the 2004 quarterfinals.
    • Last year:
      • Rome defeated Buford for the state title
      • Warner Robins lost in first round
    • Championship game records:
      • Rome (1-0)
        • 2016 – defeated Buford 16-7
      • Note:  Rome was created in 1992 merging East and West Rome.
      • Warner Robins (4-1)
        • 1976 – defeated Griffin 34-0
        • 1981 – defeated Newnan 21-0
        • 1985 – lost to Clarke Central 21-7
        • 1988 – defeated Brookwood 33-6
        • 2004 – defeated Statesboro 34-13
  • Class 4A – Marist vs. Blessed Trinity (Saturday at 4:30 pm)
    • Marist broke open a tight game in the second half when QB Chase Abshier connected with Matthew Houghton for a 55-yard TD pass.  Blessed Trinity continued their amazing roll through the playoffs since their upset over Cartersville by avenging their loss to Mary Persons in last year’s quarterfinals.
    • Marist is playing in their 11th state final.  They have won two titles (1989 and 2003).
    • Blessed Trinity is playing in their second state final.  They lost the 2015 title to Westminster.
    • The all-time series is tied at 1-1.  Marist won the regular season meeting 25-24.
    • Last year:
      • Marist lost to Sandy Creek in first round
      • Blessed Trinity lost to Mary Persons in quarterfinals
    • Championship game records:
      • Marist (2-8)
        • 1948 – lost to Lanier (Macon) 15-14
        • 1979 – lost to Redan 17-14
        • 1980 – lost to Woodward Academy 14-10
        • 1983 – lost to Mitchell County 21-13
        • 1984 – lost to Thomson 27-17
        • 1987 – lost to Worth County 26-15
        • 1989 – defeated Worth County 30-8
        • 2003 – defeated Statesboro 21-6
        • 2006 – lost to Northside (Warner Robins) 30-6
        • 2008 – lost to Tucker 15-3
      • Blessed Trinity (0-1)
        • 2015 – lost to Westminster 38-31
  • Class 3A – Peach County vs. Calhoun (Friday at 1 pm)
    • Peach County jumped out to an early lead over Greater Atlanta Christian as QB Antonio Gilbert passed for over 300 yards.  Calhoun ended Cedar Grove’s 23-game winning streak.  Both teams a very familiar with playing in December.
    • Peach County is playing in their eighth state title game.  They are 3-4.
    • Calhoun is playing in their 10th having won the title in 1952, 2011 and 2014.
    • Calhoun won the only previous meeting – a 20-14 win – in the 2015 second round.
    • Last year:
      • Peach County lost to Greater Atlanta Christian in semifinals
      • Calhoun lost to Cedar Grove in quarterfinals
    • Championship game records:
      • Peach County (3-4)
        • 1992 – lost to Thomas County Central 14-13
        • 1998 – lost to Dougherty 27-7
        • 2003 – lost to LaGrange 16-7
        • 2005 – defeated Dougherty 35-14
        • 2006 – defeated Shaw 28-7
        • 2009 – defeated Gainesville 13-12
        • 2011 – lost to Burke County 28-14
      • Calhoun (3-6)
        • 1952 – defeated Fort Valley 19-14
        • 1953 – lost to Hawkinsville 27-6
        • 2005 – lost to Charlton County 27-21
        • 2008 – lost to Buford 45-21
        • 2009 – lost to Buford 13-10
        • 2010 – lost to Buford 31-24
        • 2011 – defeated Buford 27-24
        • 2012 – lost to Jefferson 31-14
        • 2014 – defeated Washington County 27-20
  • Class 2A – Rabun County vs. Hapeville Charter (Saturday at 1pm)
    • Rabun County QB Bailey Fisher connected with Austin Jones on a 74-yard touchdown pass with 3:25 left to put the game away against Brooks County.  Hapeville Charter’s Marcus Carroll scored on a TD run with five seconds left in their win over Heard County.
    • This is the first state title appearance for each school.  This will be the first meeting between the schools.
    • Last year:
      • Rabun County lost to Fitzgerald in quarterfinals
      • Hapeville Charter lost to Fitzgerald in semifinals
    • Championship game records:  First game for both teams
  • Class 1A (Private) – Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy vs. Athens Academy (Friday at 11 am)
    • ELCA dominated Prince Avenue Christian on the ground with 458 yards and seven touchdowns.  Their passing game – not so great with two attempts for -3 yards and one interception.  Athens Academy broke up their semifinal game with Mount Paran Christian in the third quarter scoring two touchdowns within 26 seconds.
    • ELCA is looking for their third straight title and fifth overall.
    • Athens Academy is playing for their first title.
    • ELCA won their only previous meeting in the 2009 playoffs.
    • Last year:
      • ELCA defeated Fellowship Christian for state title
      • Athens Academy lost to Mount Paran Christian in second round
    • Championship game records:
      • ELCA (4-2)
        • 1996 – defeated John Hancock Academy 41-23
        • 1997 – lost to Bulloch Academy 21-20
        • 2012 – defeated Prince Avenue Christian 33-0
        • 2014 – lost to Mount Paran Christian 49-7
        • 2015 – defeated Aquinas 35-14
        • 2016 – defeated Fellowship Christian 34-27
      • Athens Academy (first appearance)
  • Class 1A (Public) – Clinch County vs. Irwin County (Saturday at 11 am)
    • Clinch County blocked a field goal attempt by Mt. Zion in the closing seconds to win their semifinal game.  Irwin County got a 10-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter then held on for the win over ECI.
    • Homerville will shutdown once again as Clinch County will be playing in the state finals for the ninth time.  The Panthers have won it six times (1988, 1991, 2002, 2004, 2010 and 2015).
    • Irwin County last won the state title in 1975.  This is their seventh appearance in the final.
    • Irwin County leads the all-time series 21-20-1.  They won the regular season meeting 21-7 on September 15th.   Clinch County beat Irwin County 24-7 in the 2015 state championship game.
    • Last year:
      • Clinch County lost to McIntosh County Academy in semifinals
      • Irwin County lost to ECI in quarterfinals
    • Championship game records:
      • Clinch County (6-2)
        • 1980 – lost to Greenville 12-10
          • Note:  Clinch County lost this game in the closing seconds when Greenville won on the high school version of the “immaculate reception” when pass was deflected off a defender into the hands of a Greenville receiver who raced to the end zone.
        • 1988 – defeated Palmetto 34-14
        • 1991 – defeated Lincoln County 11-8
        • 2002 – defeated Dooly County 50-14
        • 2004 – tied Hawkinsville 14-14 (GHSA counts this as a win)
        • 2006 – lost to Lincoln County 21-14
        • 2010 – defeated Savannah Christian 24-14
        • 2015 – defeated Irwin County 24-7
      • Irwin County (1-5)
        • 1953 – lost to Model 25-19
        • 1968 – lost to Roswell 32-6
        • 1975 – defeated Jefferson 39-13
        • 1997 – lost to Manchester 28-7
        • 2014 – lost to Hawkinsville 15-6
        • 2015 – lost to Clinch County 24-7

BLOWOUT OF THE WEEK:

Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy 55, Prince Avenue Christian 0 – ELCA rushed for 458 yards and scored seven touchdowns.  ELCA is looking for their third straight title.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK:

Lee County QB Jase Orndorff had 355 yards passing in their dramatic win over Glynn Academy.

NOTES FOR THE WEEK:

  • Warner Robins is the 28th team to make it to the state finals after a losing season.  In 1986, Villa Rica did it after going 4-5-1 the previous season.
  • Colquitt County began the 10th team in history to win four state playoff games on the road and advance to the state final.
  • Coffee, Lee County, Rabun County, Hapeville Charter and Athens Academy are making their first appearance in the state finals.
  • Lee County overcame a 31-14 deficit at halftime to defeat Glynn Academy.  Dashawn King returned a fumble 78 yards for the winning touchdown with less than three minutes left.
  • Rome and ELCA are the only remaining teams that are attempting to repeat as state champions.
  • ELCA will be going for their third straight title.  Buford was the last team to win it as they won four straight from 2007-2010.
  • This first GHSA state champion was Lanier in 1947.
  • Valdosta has won the most state titles (24).

TEAM SPOTLIGHT:

coffee

The Coffee Trojans started playing football in 1970 under coach John Stephens.   They won their first game on September 25, 1970 over Groves (12-7).  The Trojans are 286-224-6 in their 48 seasons of football. Coffee has made the playoff 22 times.  Before this current season, their best finish was in 1981 when they made it to the semifinals losing to Warner Robins.  The Trojans’ biggest rival is Ware County.  They have played each other 45 times.  Coffee leads the series 26-19.  Bonwell Royal is the team’s winningest coach with a record of 165-105-5 over 26 seasons (1972-2004).   The most notable players are WR Tyreek Hill now with the Kansas City Chiefs and LB Willis Crockett who played with the Dallas Cowboys in 1990.  The Trojans play at Jardine Stadium in Douglas, Georgia.

THANKS TO THE GEORGIA HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL HISTORIANS WEBSITE FOR SOME VALUABLE STATISTICS.

If I Were In Charge Of The College Football Playoff…

cfpWhat is college football without some controversy?  Even with a weak playoff system, there remains controversy.  This year Alabama slips into the College Football Playoff even without  having won the SEC Championship.  Yes, I know the arguments.  Strength of schedule, quality of opponents, etc.  I think college football would benefit greatly by simply adding four more teams to the playoffs and making it a criteria that the conference champions get automatic bids.

I am not in charge of anything but I’d like to imagine what I would do if I were the king of the college football world.  No, I don’t have a degree in college football playoff management or anything important but I have a pretty good idea on how to fix this issue with the playoff selections.

Here’s how it would look if the five major conferences were given automatic bids to my playoff system:

  • ACC:  Clemson
  • Big Ten:  Ohio State
  • Big 12:  Oklahoma
  • SEC: Georgia
  • Pac-12:  USC

Based upon the current rankings, these teams would get the three at-large bids:

  • Alabama
  • Wisconsin
  • Auburn

If my playoff system were in effect, then the quarterfinal round matchups would be:

  • Clemson vs. Auburn
  • Oklahoma vs. Wisconsin
  • Georgia vs. Alabama
  • Ohio State vs. USC

I am well aware that even with my system that there would still be controversy regarding the at-large bids.  Penn State and Miami would be arguing that they should be in; however, making the conference champions mean something would go a long way to making the playoff system better as well as adding at-large teams who would still be quality teams to get into the playoffs.

When you look at this eight-team playoff idea, it really doesn’t add much more to the season.

The Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) also includes five other conferences such as the American Athletic Conference, Mountain West, Conference-USA, SunBelt and MAC but these guys should have their own division and their own playoff.  The only way you could include these guys would be if you expanded the playoff field to 16 teams but I don’t think that is something we are likely to see.

Arguments will abound on Alabama getting in without winning their conference championship and Ohio State being left out in spite of winning the Big Ten but giving all conference champions a berth in the playoffs would help.

 

Georgia High School Football Weekly (11/29/17)

MtZion
Mt. Zion-Carroll Advanced To First Semifinal Appearance In School History

The games get bigger as we trim the number of teams left down to the final four for each classification.  Here’s a look at last week’s scores and the games scheduled for the semifinal rounds:

Class AAAAAAA
Quarterfinals
Brookwood 35, Tift County 28
Colquitt County 12, Archer 7
McEachern 43, Parkview 28
North Gwinnett 51, Marietta 41

Semifinals
Colquitt County at Brookwood
McEachern at North Gwinnett

Class AAAAAA
Quarterfinals
Coffee 28, Alpharetta 14
Tucker 20, Allatoona 12
Lee County 34, Mays 14
Glynn Academy 31, Harrison 7

Semifinals
Coffee at Tucker
Glynn Academy at Lee County

Class AAAAA
Quarterfinals
Rome 59, Starr’s Mill 10
Buford 20, Stockbridge 17
Warner Robins 63, Carrollton 24
Carver, Atlanta 26, Jones County 21

Semifinals
Buford at Rome
Carver, Atlanta at Warner Robins

Class AAAA
Quarterfinals
Marist 28, Burke County 6
St. Pius 35, Woodward Academy 31
Blessed Trinity 43, Thomson 13
Mary Persons 51, Jefferson 32

Semifinals
St. Pius at Marist
Blessed Trinity at Mary Persons

Class AAA
Quarterfinals
Greater Atlanta Christian 51, Jenkins 14
Peach County 45, Westminster 15
Cedar Grove 28, Pike County 0
Calhoun 31, Liberty County 7

Semifinals
Peach Co. at Greater Atlanta Christian
Calhoun at Cedar Grove

Class AA
Quarterfinals
Brooks County 31, Callaway 0
Rabun County 56, Screven County 14
Heard County 28, Thomasville 14
Hapeville Charter 31, Benedictine 17

Semifinals
Brooks County at Rabun County
Hapeville Charter at Heard County

Class A (private)
Quarterfinals
ELCA 55 Calvary Day 0
Prince Avenue 31, Darlington 18
Athens Acad. 38, Sav. Country Day 14
Mount Paran 14, Stratford Academy 7

Semifinals
Prince Avenue Christian at ELCA
Mount Paran Christ. at Athens Acad.

Class A (public)
Quarterfinals
Mount Zion, Carroll 10, Manchester 6
Clinch County 21, Mitchell County 0
Irwin County 21, Macon County 15
ECI 49, Charlton County 25

Semifinals
Mount Zion, Carroll at Clinch County
Emanuel County Institute at Irwin Co.

BLOWOUT OF THE WEEK:

Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy 55, Calvary Day 0 – ELCA piled up 426 yards of offense in the game.  RB Josh Mays scored three touchdowns.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK:

QB Dylan Fromm of Warner Robins was 25-of-34 passing for 357 yards and three touchdowns.  He also scored three touchdowns on the ground in their semifinal win over Carrollton

NEWS AND NOTES:

  • Heard County, Lee County, Mt. Zion (Carroll) and Rabun County have advanced to the semifinal round for the first time in their school’s history.
  • The 63 points scored by Warner Robins against Carrollton are the most they have ever scored in a playoff game.  The previous record was 56 when they defeated Wayne County 56-7 in the 1976 semifinals.
  • Two more defending champs fell short this week as Macon County and Benedictine were eliminated.
  • Buford has an 18-3 record in semifinal games.
  • North Gwinnett, Lee County, Buford, Marist, Greater Atlanta Christian, Rabun County, Eagle’s Landing Christian and Clinch County are favored to win their classification titles of the teams that are remaining.
  • Blessed Trinity is making their third semifinal appearance in four seasons and looking for their first state title.
  • Coffee’s last semifinal appearance was a 31-6 loss to Warner Robins in 1981.
  • McEachern started the season 0-2 but have been 10-1 since then.
  • Lee County has now won 12 games – the most in the school’s history.  Previous bests were 10 wins in 2005 and 2013.

PERSONAL WATCH LIST:

  • Warner Robins 63, Carrollton 24 – This certainly wasn’t what I had expected.  It was a close game at halftime as Warner Robins led 21-17 but the Demons blew it open in the third quarter.  Julius Burnett had 142 yards rushing.  QB Dylan Fromm accounted for 357 yards and six touchdowns.  Warner Robins will host Carver (Atlanta) in the semifinals.  This will be the first meeting between the two teams.  Carver last played in the semifinals in 1968.  Warner Robins is 5-8 in semifinal games.  The Demons lost to Lovejoy in 2011.
  • Clinch County 21, Mitchell County 0 – Trezmen Marshall put the Panthers up 14-0 with a touchdown run before halftime as the Panthers controlled the game in the second half for the win.  The Panthers will host Mt. Zion (Carroll) in the semifinals. The teams have never met.  Clinch County is 8-7 in the semifinal round.  The Panthers lost to McIntosh County Academy last season.

TOP FIVE GAMES THIS WEEK:

  • Colquitt County at Brookwood – This is a rematch from September 15th when Brookwood won 42-25.  The Broncos have a 13-game winning streak at home.  The Packers have won their last 7 away playoff games.  Brookwood leads the series 4-2
  • Glynn Academy at Lee County – Leesburg will be rocking in their first semifinal appearance in school history.  The teams have never played.
  • Buford at Rome – Two monster powerhouse programs will meet in the semifinals this week.  This will be a rematch of last year’s state title game where Rome defeated Buford 16-7.
  • St. Pius X at Marist – These two teams know each other really well.  This will be their 53rd meeting.  Marist leads the all-time series 32-17-3.   Marist has won the last two games including a 17-14 win on September 8th.
  • Calhoun at Cedar Grove – Here is another matchup of two power teams.  The series is tied 1-1 with Cedar Grove winning 47-21 in the quarterfinal round last year.

TEAM SPOTLIGHT:

HeardThe Heard County Braves have fielded a football team for the past 46 seasons.  Their record over that span is 253-237-3.  They have qualified for the playoffs 26 times.  Their first game was played on September 8, 1972.  They were coached by Danny Pounds.  They lost to Mt. Zion-Carroll 35-6.  Their first win came against Taylor County on September 21, 1973.  The longest winning streak has been 11 games from November 6, 1987 to November 4, 1988.  Their best seasons came in 2006 & 2012.  The teams won 11 games and lost in the second round of the playoffs.  Their biggest rival is Greenville but they are 8-23 in the all-time series.  The current coach is Tim Barron who is the Braves’ all-time winningest coach (129-56-0).  Their most notable players were RB Dontavius Jackson who played at Georgia and RB Carlos Brown who went on to Michigan.  The Braves play at Staples Stadium in Franklin, Georgia.

Georgia High School Football Weekly (11/22/17)

Blessed Trinity Shocks Cartersville In The Second Round

Last week was the week for huge upsets in the Georgia High School Association playoffs.  Two more defending champions went down to defeat (Grayson and Cartersville) in addition to one of the highest scoring teams of the season (Lowndes).   Here are the scores from last week and this week’s schedule for the quarterfinals:

Class AAAAAAA
Second round
Brookwood 28, Milton 23
Tift Co. 31, Hillgrove 24
Archer 16, Mill Creek 10
Colquitt Co. 28, Walton 21
Parkview 48, Mountain View 13
McEachern 36, Lowndes 31
North Gwinnett 35, Grayson 28
Marietta 38, Woodstock 28
Quarterfinals
Tift Co. at Brookwood
Colquitt Co. at Archer
Parkview at McEachern
Marietta at North Gwinnett
Class AAAAAA
Second round
Alpharetta 24, Douglas Co. 21
Coffee 55, Evans 21
Allatoona 14, Dacula 13
Tucker 28, Northside, Warner Robins 7
Mays 48, Centennial 41
Lee Co. 38, Grovetown 6
Harrison 45, Winder-Barrow 17
Glynn Acad. 34, Heritage, Conyers 26
Quarterfinals
Coffee at Alpharetta
Allatoona at Tucker (A)
Mays at Lee Co.
Harrison at Glynn Academy (GL)
Class AAAAA
Second round
Rome 56, Southwest DeKalb 0
Starr’s Mill 49, Bainbridge 28
Buford 48, Jackson, Atlanta 0
Stockbridge 10, Ware Co. 7
Carrollton 44, Arabia Mountain 0
Warner Robins 26, Eagle’s Landing 23
Carver, Atlanta 33, Flowery Branch 19
Jones Co. 26, Wayne Co. 21
Quarterfinals
Rome at Starr’s Mill
Buford at Stockbridge
Carrollton at Warner Robins (MT)
Jones Co. at Carver, Atlanta (G)
Class AAAA
Second round
Marist 31, Cedartown 18
Burke Co. 41, Cairo 23
St. Pius 43, Troup 35
Woodward Acad. 42, W. Laurens 31
Blessed Trinity 21, Cartersville 17
Thomson 35, Americus-Sumter 34
Jefferson 28, Ridgeland 21
Mary Persons 39, Baldwin 14
Quarterfinals
Marist at Burke Co.
St. Pius at Woodward Academy
Blessed Trinity at Thomson
Jefferson at Mary Persons
Class AAA
Second round
Greater Atlanta Christian 38, Lovett 21
Jenkins 35, Cook 34
Westminster 59, East Hall 57
Peach Co. 34, Pierce Co. 14
Cedar Grove 58, Dawson Co. 13
Pike Co. 26, Crisp Co. 25
Calhoun 28, Monroe Area 20
Liberty Co. 21, Westside, Macon 0
Quarterfinals
Greater Atlanta Christian at Jenkins (P)
Westminster at Peach Co.
Pike Co. at Cedar Grove (GO)
Calhoun at Liberty Co.
Class AA
Second round
Callaway 40, Rockmart 35
Brooks Co. 35, Dodge Co. 17
Rabun Co. 35, B.E.S.T. Academy 2
Screven Co. 34, Toombs Co. 20
Heard Co. 41, Pepperell 28
Thomasville 44, Dublin 22
Hapeville Charter 56, Elbert Co. 10
Benedictine 70, Jefferson Co. 21
Quarterfinals
Callaway at Brooks Co.
Rabun Co. at Screven Co.
Heard Co. at Thomasville
Hapeville Charter at Benedictine (SS)
Class A (private)
Second round
Calvary Day 17, Wesleyan 10
ELCA 54, Savannah Christian 0
Prince Avenue 33, Whitefield Acad. 7
Darlington 33, Aquinas 14
Sav. Country Day 20, Mount Pisgah 17
Athens Acad. 56, First Presbyterian 7
Stratford Acd. 36, Fellowship Christ. 22
Mount Paran 53, Mount Vernon 12
Quarterfinals
Calvary Day at ELCA
Darlington at Prince Avenue Christian
Sav. Country Day at Athens Academy
Stratford Academy at Mount Paran
Class A (public)
Second round
Mount Zion, Carroll 20, Marion Co. 12
Manchester 58, Washington-Wilkes 20
Clinch Co. 48, Dooly Co. 35
Mitchell Co. 22, Schley Co. 21
Macon Co. 41, Pelham 28
Irwin Co. 28, Lincoln Co. 14
Charlton Co. 42, Commerce 14
ECI 55, Jenkins Co. 26
Quarterfinals
Mount Zion-Carroll at Manchester
Clinch Co. at Mitchell Co.
Macon Co. at Irwin Co.
Charlton Co. at Emanuel Co. Institute
NEWS AND NOTES:
  • Blessed Trinity shocked heavily favored Cartersville 21-17 as QB Jake Smith connected with Ryan Davis with a 26-yard pass with 12 seconds remaining.  The win ended Cartersville’s 41-game winning streak and a bid for a third-straight state title.  This is the second time in three seasons that Blessed Trinity has beaten a top-ranked team in the playoffs.
  • Lee County and Pike County have advanced to the quarterfinals for the first time in school history.
  • I was two years’ old the last time (1966) Jenkins played in the quarterfinals.
  • McEachern overcame a 31-14 deficit late in the game against Lowndes as Carlos Del Rio, a freshman, threw a 31-yard TD pass to Genuine Potts for the winning score with 54 seconds left.
  • North Gwinnett broke a 28-28 tie with Grayson late in the fourth quarter with a 15-yard TD run by Tyler Goodson.
  • Warner Robins and Carrollton have 11 state titles between them.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: 
QB Matthew Downing of Alpharetta had a season-high 324 yards passing in a 24-21 win over Douglas County last week.
PERSONAL WATCH-LIST:
  • Warner Robins 26, Eagle’s Landing 23 (ot) – Wow.  This one was back-and-forth and drove me out of my mind.  An injured and hobbled Jarius Burnett willed his way into the end zone on a fourth-and-1 in overtime to give the Demon’s the winning score.  Warner Robins is now in the quarterfinals for the first time since 2013.  The Demons will host Carrollton this week.  Carrollton is in their third straight quarterfinal round.  These teams have never met but both have storied histories.  Carrollton has won seven state titles and Warner Robins has four state titles.  Carrollton (10-2) has lost two games this season to Rome (45-24) and Hiram (41-14) but have won their last five.  Warner Robins has won 12 straight.
  • Clinch County 48, Dooly County 35 –  The Panthers were outgained 488-474 but QB Charles McClelland passed for 179 yards and ran for 84 to help his team to advance to their second straight quarterfinal appearance.  Clinch County will travel to Camilla to play Mitchell County (10-1).   The Panthers lead the all-time series 4-2.  The Panthers defeated Mitchell County 54-12 in the second round last season.

TOP GAMES THIS WEEK:

  • Colquitt County at Archer – This is a rematch of the 2014 state championship game when Colquitt County won 28-24.  Archer comes into the game 12-0 and primed to eliminate the Packers but Colquitt County always seems to find a way to win on the road.
  • Allatoona at Tucker – Allatoona (9-3) won the state title in 2015 while Tucker (11-1) came up short to Valdosta in the championship game last season.
  • Carrollton at Warner Robins – This is a game between two schools with storied football traditions meeting for the first time.  Warner Robins has problems on offense the last couple of games with turnovers and penalties.
  • Blessed Trinity at Thomson – Blessed Trinity toppled the Goliath known as Cartersville and QB Joey Lawrence last week.  It will be interesting to see how they respond this week at Thomson.  These teams have never met previously.  The Titans are 10-2 with their two losses some to Marietta and Marist.  Thomson is 10-1 with their only loss to Burke County on October 27th.
  • Macon County at Irwin County – Macon County (8-3) is the defending 1A (Public) champions but they lost to Irwin County earlier in the season 36-28.  Irwin County enters the game at 10-1 with their only loss to Fitzgerald.   The all-time series is tied 2-2.
  • Charlton County at Emanuel County Institute –  These teams aren’t as dominant as they have been in past years but should be a good matchup.  Charlton County is 9-2.  ECI is 10-1.  This will be the first meeting between the schools.

TEAM SPOTLIGHT: 

The Blessed Trinity Titans have played football since 2001 when they started at 0-3.  They haveblessed not had another winless season since then.  The Titans are 121-65-1.  Their best season came in 2015 when they finished 13-1-1 and came up short to Westminster in the state final in overtime.  Blessed Trinity has qualified for the playoffs 10 of their 17 seasons.  Tim McFarlin is the teams’ winningest coach with a record of 71-19-1 from 2011-present.  The Titans have had 19 First Team All-Star Players in their history.  Most recently, RB Steele Chambers in 2016.   Their most common opponent has been Westminster.  The all-time series is tied at 7-7.  The Titans play at Blessed Trinity Stadium in Roswell.

My Georgia Dome Memories

DOMEPHOTO2As the Georgia Dome was imploded this week and finally gave way to another new shiny sports facility, I remember the handful of times that I actually attended events at the Georgia Dome.  I wasn’t a frequent visitor and my experiences are limited compared to others but I enjoyed my times of walking inside of Georgia’s first domed stadium.   Honestly, when they first announced that they were building a domed stadium in Atlanta, I thought it was silly since Georgia wasn’t exactly the coldest place to need such a facility but as time went on, I saw that it was a huge success for Atlanta.   The Georgia Dome has been home to the Atlanta Falcons, Peach Bowl, SEC Championship Game, NCAA Men’s Final Four and the 1996 Summer Olympics.

During the Georgia Dome’s 25-year existence, I believe I have been inside four times – all football games – here is a recap of my times in the Georgia Dome:

  • October 9, 1994
    • Atlanta Falcons 34, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 13
    • This was the first-ever NFL game I attended.  I went with my co-worker from the newspaper as we were there to cover the game.  The press box was nothing like the high school games I had covered.  People gave you stats and you got all the information you could ever want to write about the game.  After the game, my job was to interview Atlanta Falcons’ Running Back Craig “Ironhead” Heyward.  I was in a group of reporters asking questions of Heyward who was the leading rusher in the game with 87 yards and two touchdowns.  The unique thing about this game was that Sam Wyche, who was the Buccaneers coach at the time, elected to go for a 38-yard field goal trailing 34-10 at the end of the game.
  • December 24, 1994
    • Atlanta Falcons 10, Arizona Cardinals 6
    • I returned two months later with my co-worker to cover the final regular season game.  The Falcons finished 7-9 that season.  My job was to interview Atlanta Falcons’ Wide Receiver Andre Rison because there were rumors that it was going to be his last game with the team.  I joined a group of reporter – a large group – gathered around his locker only to learn that Rison had ducked out and left.
  • December 9, 1995
    • SW DeKalb 7, Warner Robins 0 (State Semifinals)
    • I returned to the Georgia Dome a year later working for a different newspaper and covering the Warner Robins Demons in their semifinal playoff game against SW DeKalb.  This was when the Georgia High School Association were playing the semifinal round games at the Dome.  On this trip, I actually had the chance to walk down on the playing field and sideline.  It wasn’t at all like I had expected.  The turf wasn’t very good at all.  It was a hard fought game but SW DeKalb was led by Quincy Carter at quarterback.
  • December 11, 2010
    • Clinch County Panthers 24, Savannah Christian Raiders 14 (State Championship Game)
    • This was the first time I had ever attended a game at the Georgia Dome as a fan.  It was probably the most memorable one for me because I attended with my father.  He played at Clinch County and is a big fan.  We both joined in with the fans as the game was tight early but a punt return broke the game open on their way to the state title.

Of course, I have watched many games that were played there.  It’s was one thing to see it on television but an entirely different experience to go in person.  Like many people, I was in awe the first time I walked into the place.  I can’t imagine what it would be like to walk inside the new Mercedes-Benz Field next door to it.   As for the Georgia Dome, I left there happy 3 of the 4 times I was there.  Thanks for the memories.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

American Football In Israel Kicks Off 11th Season

ifl2
Jerusalem Defeats Petah Tikva In Israel Football League Season Opener

The American version of tackle football kicked off its 11th season today. Eight teams throughout the middle eastern country participate in the Israel Football League which is backed by New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and his family.  Kraft, who is Jewish, has been heavily invested in Israel, both financially and emotionally, and is close friends with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.   This past summer, Kraft took a group of Pro Football Hall of Famers to Israel for “Touchdown Israel II”.  The group included Jim Brown, Joe Greene, Joe Montana, Roger Staubach and others as ambassador of the sport.

The current season started with the following teams:

  • Haifa Underdogs
  • Jerusalem Big Blue Lions
  • Tel Aviv Pioneers
  • Beersheva Black Swarm
  • Judean Rebels
  • Rama HaSharon Hammers
  • Petah Tikva Troopers
  • Mazkeret Batia Silverbacks

The teams play on various soccer fields but starting this season, the Kraft Family opened the Kraft Family Sports Campus in Jerusalem.  The 25-acre, multi-sports venue includes the first three regulation-sized football fields in the Middle East.  The 10-game regular season schedule runs from November to March.

The Israel Bowl is the leagues’ championship game.  The Jerusalem Lions beat the Tel Aviv Pioneers last season for the Israel Bowl X title.    The Lions are again favorites to win the title.  Here were the final standings last season (2016-2017):

North Division

  • Petah Tikva Troopers (9-1)
  • Tel Aviv Pioneers (8-2)
  • Ramat HaSharon Hammers (5-5)
  • Haifa Underdogs (2-7-1)

South Division

  • Jerusalem Lions (9-1)
  • Efrat Rebels (6-4)
  • Be’er Sheva Black Swarm (2-7-1)
  • Mazkeret Batia Silverbacks (0-10)

Playoffs:

  • Wildcard games:  Efrat 36, Ramat HaSharon 14, Tel Aviv 68, Be’er Sheva 40
  • Division Championships:  Jerusalem 48, Efrat 40, Tel Aviv 44, Petah Tikva 32
  • Israel Bowl X:  Jerusalem 44, Tel Aviv 36

American’s version of football isn’t as popular as it is in the United States but the sport is growing as there are currently 1,350 active football players in the country.  Kraft’s late wife, Myra, was also responsible in promoting the sport to women as she had donated millions of dollars to women’s flag football in Israel.