Georgia High School Football Review: Semifinals

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The state semifinals produced some expected and unexpected results as teams played for a spot in the state championship games in the Georgia Dome next weekend.

In Class 7A it was expected that Roswell and Grayson would advance and they both did by big margins.  Roswell eliminated Westlake 28-0 and Grayson took care of Mill Creek 44-26.  So the state title game sets up Roswell and Grayson who are no strangers there.  Roswell is back for the second consecutive year and last won it all in 2006.  Grayson won it in 2011.

The teams are 1-1 against each other with Grayson winning 24-14 in the 2009 playoffs.  Roswell beat Grayson 30-26 in last year’s semifinal round.

Milton’s Pick:  Grayson 42, Roswell 21

In Class 6A, Northside-Warner Robins and Tucker didn’t play one of their classic nail-biting games of the past in their series.  Northside did jump out to a 7-0 lead on Tucker but turnovers doomed the Eagles as Tucker returned a fumble 44 yard for a touchdown in the third quarter as Tucker won 22-7.  Valdosta’s defense held Dalton’s Ahmaad Turner to 57 yards rushing and took advantage of two muffed punts in the game to lead the Wildcats to a 27-6 win.

Tucker is in the state finals for the fourth time in eight years and looking for their first championship since 2011.  Valdosta is back in the final for the first time since 2003.  They last won it all in 1998.   Valdosta and Tucker have never played.

Milton’s Pick:  Valdosta 20, Tucker 16

The Class 5A semifinals turned out as expected as Buford once again showed their dominance in the semifinals as they defeated Kell 28-16 as Christian Tucker scored on a 3-yard run with 2:11 left to seal the win for the Wolves.  Buford is now in the state finals for the 10th straight season.  Rome defeated Stockbridge in the other semifinal game, 28-21 to play in their first state title game since the school opened in 1992.  Rome was created from a merger of East and West Rome high schools.

Buford and Rome have never met.  Rome enters the game with a 12-2 record.  Their two losses were to Harrison (22-20) and Kell (33-30) which started their season at 1-2.   Buford is 13-1.  They lost their season opener to Roswell 24-7.

Milton’s Pick:  As painful as this may be for me…..Buford 35, Rome 14  (This will be the battle of the Wolves)

In Class 4A, Cartersville and their all-world quarterback Trevor Lawrence dispatched Mary Persons (never liked that school name) 38-17.  Lawrence passed for 253 yards and four touchdowns.  Thomson beat Jefferson 27-6.

Cartersville is the defending state champions.  Thomson is in the state championship game for the first time since 2002.   In their only meeting, Cartersville defeated Thomson 21-13 in the 2012 Quarterfinals.

Milton’s Pick:  Cartersville 33, Thomson 14

The results in Class 3A were a little unexpected for me.  Both Peach County and Crisp County had been dominant teams during the season but Peach County could not solve Greater Atlanta Christian’s defense until the final two minutes as the Spartans hung on to defeat the Trojans 13-7.  Cedar Grove completely destroyed Crisp County 55-0.  The Saints jumped out to a 41-0 lead at halftime.   Cedar Grove’s win in Cordele was the largest margin of victory by a visiting team in the state playoffs.

Cedar Grove is in the state finals for the first time since 1991.  Greater Atlanta Christian advances to their third state final and seeking their first title.   Cedar Grove and Greater Atlanta Christian have never played.   They both played a common opponent in 2016 when they each played Westminster of Atlanta.  Greater Atlanta Christian won 19-16 in overtime on August 26th.  Cedar Grove lost to Westminster, 42-21 on September 23rd but haven’t lost a game since and haven’t allowed more than 21 points since the loss.

Milton’s Pick:  Cedar Grove 41, Greater Atlanta Christian 17

The Class 2A semifinals happened as expected with Benedictine knocking off Callaway 49-10 and Fitzgerald defeated Hapeville Charter 42-21 to advance to the state 2A title game.

Benedictine is in the state finals for the second time in school history.  They won it in 2014.  Fitzgerald is playing in their fifth championship game and seeking their first title since 1948.   The teams have met twice with Benedictine winning 51-7 in the 2013 playoffs.  Fitzgerald defeated Benedictine 54-28 in the state quarterfinals last season.

Milton’s Pick:  Fitzgerald 27, Benedictine 24  (overtime?)

It was totally unexpected in Class 1A  (public) that Clinch County lost at home to McIntosh County Academy 24-8.  Valentin Salazar made a 37-yard field goal in the first quarter to give the Buccaneers a 10-8 and they kept the Panthers out-of-synch the rest of the game for their first win in the semifinals.  Macon County dominated Emanuel County Institute for a 48-26 win.

McIntosh County Academy is playing in its first state title game.  Macon County is in the final for the first time since 1996.  The teams have never met.   Macon County has scored over 40 points in 10 games this season.  McIntosh County Academy’s coach, Robby Robinson, is 140-79-1 in 19 seasons of coaching.

Milton’s Pick:  Macon County 20, McIntosh County Academy 8

In the Class 1A (private) semifinals, Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy broke open a tight game in the third quarter and eliminated Tattnall 42-21.  Fellowship Christian had a 25-7 lead at halftime and hung on to defeat Prince Avenue Christian 31-28.

Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy is in the state final for the fourth time in five years.  They are the defending state champions from last season.  Fellowship Christian is in their first state championship game.   ELCA is 3-1 all-time in the series and won the last meeting 47-7 in 2009.

Milton’s Pick:  Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy 40, Fellowship Christian 12

Championship game fun facts:

  • The Wolves will win the Class 5A championship as both teams are known as the Wolves.
  • Purple Hurricanes will be blowing in the dome when Cartersville and Fitzgerald take the field.
  • Bulldogs will be barking for Thomson and Macon County
  • What’s a “Paladin”?  I guess we will find out when Fellowship Christian plays ELCA.
  • This will be the last time the games will be played in the Georgia Dome.  They are expected to move to the new Merceds-Benz Stadium in 2017 but nothing has been finalized.

All eight state championship games will be played in the Georgia Dome on Friday and Saturday.   They will be shown on Georgia Public Television and online at GPB.org.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Friday Flashback: 1966 Atlanta Falcons

Vic Stein

It was 50 years ago when the Atlanta Falcons played their first season in the National Football League (NFL).  They were granted an expansion team in June 1965 and played their first game on September 11, 1966 losing to the Los Angeles Rams 19-14.

The Falcons lost their first nine games until beating the New York Giants 27-16 for their first win in franchise history.  They would end up winning three games in their first season to finish 3-11 for seventh place in the NFL’s Eastern Conference.

The first head coach was Norb Hecker who had been the defensive backs coach for the Green Bay Packers.  Hecker continued coaching in various positions and retired after coaching the Amsterdam Admirals of the World League of American Football in 1995.

Randy Johnson started 11 of the 14 games at quarterback for the Falcons.  He passed for 1,795 yards with 12 touchdowns and 21 interceptions.  Johnson played for the Falcons until 1970.  He also played for the New York Giants, Honolulu Hawaiians of the World Football League, Washington Redskins and Green Bay Packers.

Junior Coffey was the team’s leading rusher with 722 yards and scored four touchdowns.   Coffey finished his career with 2,037 yards and 10 touchdowns.  After football, Coffey became a racehorse trainer.

Linebacker Tommy Nobis won the NFL Rookie of the Year Award and became the first Falcon named to the Pro Bowl.  Nobis played for the Falcons for 10 seasons before retiring after the 1976 season.   Today Nobis is a co-founder and board of directors member of the Tommy Nobis Center which helps to develop and provide job training, employment and vocational support for youth and adults with disabilities.

The Falcons would not have their first winning season until 1971 when they finished 7-6-1.   Their first playoff appearance came in 1978.

 

 

 

 

 

Driving 101: Patience

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If you asked me one thing that is a problem in traffic and I would immediately say it is impatient drivers.  Impatience causes a lot of frustrations on the roadway.

Yesterday was a good example as I was getting on the Interstate, another driver was tailgating me and flailing their arms at me because I wasn’t doing it fast enough.  The problem was that I had to wait for the drivers in front of me to do what they were going to do.  I couldn’t push them.  Once we got on the interstate, the driver behind me jerked their vehicle into the other lane and raced away.

I’m sure you have had your own experience with impatient drivers too.  Common examples are those who tailgate and trying to push you out of their way or drivers who fly by you on the left so they can cut in front of you to the exit or those who want to make two lanes before there are actually two lanes.

Most of these impatient moves actually don’t end up saving the impatient driver very much, if even a few seconds down the road.

Now I admit that I am not the perfect model for patience and I don’t like being delayed by slower drivers ahead of me either but some take their impatience to the extreme.  There is quite a driver arrogance when you honk legitimately at someone for being in the wrong and they either honk back at you or flip you off.     I had a guy do that one day when HE ran a stop sign and I honked at him.  He flipped me off and keep going.

Yes, we all have somewhere to be.  Unfortunately there are some who are not disciplined enough to leave in enough time to get to their location on time without having to use the roads as their personal NASCAR race to get to their destination.  When someone is impatient with me during the morning commute, I will make it a joke that THEY are the only ones who have to get to work.

Let’s all relax and take a deep breath.  Quit trying to one-up other drivers or force your way in traffic.  It’s a small world and we’re all trying to get somewhere.  Let’s get there safely.

Some places in Nashville that are in need of patience:

  • Drivers who are trying to get on I-65 North when other drivers are going straight on Rosa Parks.  I have seen people drive up on the sidewalk to get around.  It’s funny because they are in a hurry to get in line on I-65.
  • Drivers getting off the Broadway exit on I-40 who immediately try to make it two lanes before it actually has two lanes.
  • Drivers either entering downtown from I-40 exit ramp or those on the frontage road that insist on ignoring the red light.

Nearly ever time you drive, you will see another driver do something impatient or even reckless.  Take a deep breath and let it go.  None of us like injustice but be patient.   Being impatient will only make it worse.   Because there are so many people on the roads, we have the false sense of negativity of others and the idea that we will never see them again so we can act however we want.

Come on Nashville drivers!  Be patient!  They say we are one of the friendliest cities in America but there is little evidence of that on the highways.

 

 

 

Ottawa upsets Calgary in Canada’s Super Bowl

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While we are entering into the last month of the National Football League’s regular season, the Canadian Football League (CFL) crowned their most unlikely champion as the Ottawa Redblacks upset the Calgary Stampeders, 39-33 in overtime to claim the 104th Grey Cup in Toronto.

The Stampeders had dominated the CFL the entire season finishing with a 15-2-1 regular season record and easily dispatched of the British Columbia Lions 42-15 in the playoffs.

The Ottawa Redblacks were playing in just their third season since bringing at team back to Ottawa.  The Redblacks ended a 40-year championship drought for the City of Ottawa that involved three different CFL franchises.  They also became the fourth-fastest expansion team to win a championship.

The Redblacks finished the regular season with an 8-9-1 record which was good enough to win the Eastern Division title.

In the Grey Cup, the Redblacks jumped out to a surprising 27-7 lead and held a 33-23 lead with six minutes left in the game.  With under two minutes left to play, Stampeders’ wide receiver DaVaris Daniels scored a touchdown to close the lead to 33-30.  The Stampeders recovered the onside kick and drove to the two-yard line but had to kick a game-tying field goal as time expired to force overtime.

In the overtime, the Redblacks were on offense first and scored on a 18-yard pass from Henry Burris to Ernest Jackson.  Ottawa failed to convert on the two-point conversion but the Stampeders were unable to respond with a touchdown and an incomplete pass on fourth down sealed the win for the Redblacks.

Burris was named the Grey Cup’s Most Valuable Player.  He completed 35-of-46 for 461 yards and three touchdowns.  Burris became the oldest quarterback to lead his team to a Grey Cup win at 41 years old.

 

Experience at the Ryman

ryman2Last night I attended my first concert at the Ryman with my wife and daughter.  A few months ago, my wife and I had toured the Ryman but actually attending a concert in this historic venue was something totally different.  The concert itself wasn’t that spectacular in my opinion with Kacey Musgraves performing her Christmas tour but sitting in the same place where country legends have played was amazing.  At times, when you heard that country “twang” you could sense what it was like when Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn or the other country greats have performed.

I’m not a country music fan and about the extent of my country music knowledge came from watching episodes of Hee Haw growing up but you could feel the spirit of country music past in the Ryman.

With the Ryman having originated as a church in 1892, you first get the feel of a church when you sit in the church pews.  The building became the home of the Grand Ole Opry in 1925 and remained there until 1974 when the Grand Ole Opry House opened at what is now the location of the Opry Mills mall and Opryland Hotel.

Although we had seats in the very last row of the balcony (thanks to an unlucky draw in the lottery on the day I bought the tickets) we still had a good view of the stage.  The acoustics were good and the vocals were easy to understand as the sounds bounced off the walls and ceiling of the historic building.

Some other interesting facts about the Ryman:

  • The Country Music Awards shows were performed and broadcast live from the Ryman from 1968 – 1973.
  • Ringo Starr recorded his 72nd birthday concert at the Ryman on July 7, 2012.
  • Dolly Parton, Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn, Hank Williams and Patsy Cline made their Opry debuts at the Ryman.
  • The Johnny Cash Show was recorded and broadcast from the Ryman between 1969-1971.

Georgia High School Football Review: State Quarterfinals

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Two more state champions from last season were eliminated in the quarterfinals.  Colquitt County and Westminster came up short in their games this weekend.

Colquitt County’s run ended with a 49-21 loss to Grayson in a game which wasn’t really close.  Grayson ran out to a 49-7 lead as running back Kurt Taylor rushed for 198 yards and Jamyest Williams ran for 100 yards.  I told you to look out for this team when the playoffs started.  They are definitely on a roll now and will play Mill Creek in the semifinals.

Westminster was knocked out by Peach County, 27-17 as the Trojans had 500 yards of total offense.  Peach County is in their ninth semifinal and will play Greater Atlanta Christian.  Greater Atlanta Christian worked overtime to eliminate Liberty County 44-38.  Davis Mills connected with Trent Fowler in the third overtime on a 23-yard touchdown pass then held on for the win.

Mary Persons and Blessed Trinity played a solid game as it came down to a 28-yard field goal with three seconds left.  Blessed Trinity’s Books Hosea had made four field goals in the game but missed the game winner.  Mary Persons will now play Cartersville in the semifinals.   In their only previous meeting, Cartersville won 21-17 in the 1991 semifinals.

Westlake finally cooled off Lowndes’ high-powered offense but needed a 39-yard field goal by James Miller as time expired to give the Lions for their first trip to the semifinals.  Westlake, which is the school that produced Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, will play Roswell next week.

The Class 6A semifinals will feature another Northside Warner Robins-Tucker matchup.  If you have followed this series, you can expect just about anything.  Northside leads the series 2-1 but they have all been nail-biters.  This will be the third time the teams have met in the semifinals.

Valdosta beat Stephenson, 31-21, to advance to the semifinals for the first time since 2003.  The Wildcats will play Dalton which held on to beat Coffee 30-28.

Buford defeated Carrollton 34-27 to play in their 10th straight semifinal.  Buford will face Kell which had over 300 yards of offense to beat Woodland-Stockbridge 53-29.

In Class 2A, Dylan Johnson threw a 47-yard pass to Braylon Sanders with 17 seconds left to give Callaway a 35-24 win over Screven County.

Here are the semifinal matchups for each classification (last meeting):

Class 7A

  • Roswell at Westlake (first meeting)
  • Mill Creek at Grayson (Grayson 21-6, 2014 First Round)

Class 6A

  • Northside Warner Robins at Tucker (Northside 23-20, 2012 Quarterfinal)
  • Valdosta at Dalton (first meeting)

Class 5A

  • Stockbridge at Rome (first meeting)
  • Kell at Buford (first meeting)

Class 4A

  • Mary Persons at Cartersville (Cartersville 21-17, 1991 Semifinals)
  • Thomson at Jefferson (Thomson 42-20, Sept 2)

Class 3A

  • Greater Atlanta Christian at Peach County (first meeting)
  • Cedar Grove at Crisp County (first meeting)

Class 2A

  • Callaway at Benedictine (first meeting)
  • Hapeville at Fitzgerald (first meeting)

Class 1A (Public)

  • Emanuel County Institute at Macon County (first meeting)
  • McIntosh County Academy at Clinch County (Clinch County 32-7, Aug 26)

Class 1A (Private)

  • Tattnall at Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy (first meeting)
  • Fellowship Christian at Prince Avenue (Prince Avenue 42-14, 2009 Regular Season)

 

Friday Flashback:  1984 Boston College vs. Miami

It has been called one of the greatest finishes in college football history.  I remember watching this game on television in my bedroom at my parents’ home after I had just returned from my tour in Greenland.  In Greenland, we never saw the games live but usually two weeks later so it was a treat to see the game on live television for the first time in a year.  What a game I witnessed in this November 23, 1984 contest at the Orange Bowl in Miami.

Boston College quarterback Doug Flutie hurled up a last-second 64-yard pass that landed in the hands of Gerard Phelan for a 47-45 win over Miami.

The game was not a defensive battle to say the least.  Miami racked up 655 yards of offense while Boston College had 627 yards.

With 28 seconds left, Miami’s Melvin Bratton scored on a one-yard run that appeared to have given the Hurricanes a 45-41 win.  Starting at their own 20 after the score, Boston College got to the Miami 48 in time for the final play.

Boston College finished the season at 10-2 and a win over Houston in the Cotton Bowl.   They finished #5 in the final poll.  Miami finished 8-5 and lost to UCLA in the Fiesta Bowl.   They finished #18 in the final poll.

The Hurricanes were beaten by Maryland a week prior to their game against Boston College.   Maryland overcame a 31-0 deficit to win 42-40 for the biggest comeback in NCAA history.

See the game winning score below: