Tag: Georgia High School Football

GHSA State Championship Games: It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

santaToday is an exciting day for me.

No need to panic and check your calendar.  It isn’t Christmas Day yet.

Today is the day of the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) football state championship games.  After the games were delayed due to the Atlanta United Major League Soccer (MLS) team hosting (and winning) the MLS Cup on Saturday, the state football championships will finally kickoff today at the Mercedes Benz Dome.

There are three teams playing today that I have an interest in.  The first one is Warner Robins who will be playing Bainbridge for the Class 5A title, Clinch County will play Irwin County for the Class 1A Public School championship and Northside Warner Robins facing Lee County for the Class 6A crown.  (Of all seasons for both Warner Robins and Northside to play for the title and they are in different classifications!  If you’ve ever attended a Warner Robins-Northside game, you would know what that would be like.)

I know to most people out there this doesn’t mean much to you but for anyone that knows me, this is a pretty big deal.  I am a huge Georgia high school football fan.  Even though I live in Nashville, Tennessee now, thanks to modern technology I can still keep connected to my teams through the SportsMic Radio website/app, Score Atlanta website, Georgia High School Football Daily emails as well as the legendary Tommy Palmer with his podcasts and high school football scoreboard show on Friday nights.

So why Georgia high school football?  How did this obsession get started for me?

My dad was a graduate of Clinch County High School and had played football for the Panthers during his day.  On November 11, 1975 he took me to my first football game at Waycross Memorial Stadium in Waycross, Georgia where Clinch County played Charlton County for the Region 2B title.  It was a cold night but shivering in the cold I was excited as I watched Charlton County edge Clinch County 6-0 in a defensive battle.   During the 1976 season we attended a few more games including the last regular season game when Clinch County played Jeff Davis.  Jeff Davis scored early to take a 6-0 lead and held onto that lead most of the game until the Panthers scored late in the game and made the extra point to win an exciting 7-6 game.

High school football was about the only entertainment I was allowed to participate in since my dad was a preacher and our church had some ridiculous rules against attending professional ball games.  I’m not sure why we never attended any college games but I was okay with being able to go to high school games.

When I started high school in Villa Rica, Georgia, dad would drop me off at the game and pick me up when the game was over.  I loved going to those games.  I remember the night that the football team beat Darlington 20-14 in overtime and then won the next two games to make the playoffs and dethroned the two-time defending state champions East Rome Gladiators in the playoffs.  I tried to play for the football team but my physical abilities were limited so when we moved before my junior year to Savannah, Georgia, I decided to stick to being a fan.  I finished my high school at Tompkins High School in Savannah, Georgia.  I never attended any of their games in person but I would listen on the radio on Friday nights.  Tompkins did pretty well in 1980 (my junior year) with Coach Joseph Turner who was a legend and coaching in his last season.  The team upset heavily favored Coffee County 24-21 in the region playoffs.  During my senior season, Tompkins wasn’t so good.  With a new coach, they dropped to last place.  I began tuning into Savannah Christian games on the radio.  The Raiders played in a strange private school league called the SEAIS which I believe was Southeastern Association of Independent Schools.  The most exciting game was when Savannah Christian scored on the last play of the game against Pinewood Christian and later went on to win the championship over Southland Academy.

My Georgia high school football was put on hold when I joined the United States Air Force (USAF).  In my first season without high school football, I was stationed in Abilene, Texas.  I attended my only game in the home opener for Cooper High School.  Although high school football is huge in Texas, it just wasn’t the same for me.  I had Georgia high school football flowing through my veins.  I spent the next season shivering in the cold at Thule AB, Greenland with my next assignment to be Robins Air Force Base in Warner Robins, Georgia.  A co-worker had been stationed at Robins and told me all about the Warner Robins football team winning national championships in 1976 and 1981 so I was looking forward to getting back to Georgia in 1984.

On November 30, 1984 I finally returned to attend my first football game when Warner Robins hosted the Valdosta Wildcats in the state quarterfinals.  Valdosta shutout Warner Robins that rainy night 28-0 but I was back.  From 1985 to 1991 I attended most of the Warner Robins’ home games and even had season tickets during many of those seasons.  When I got a job with the Macon Telegraph, I had to “work” on Friday nights at other games.  I had a chance to report on a variety of teams in our area although I have to admit that I had a hard time getting into the private school games.  I was excited when I was assigned a Warner Robins game, although I couldn’t show it.  I will tell you that I was scared to death to have to interview Warner Robins’ Coach Robert Davis but he was always nice to me and gave me some good quotes.  When the balance of power shifted to Northside, I would support them in the playoffs when Warner Robins was eliminated.  They had some exciting games too and it was good to see them finally win their first state title in 2006 after so many heartbreaking losses.

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Dad and I watching the 2010 State Championship Game

My dad was the reason I have followed these games over the years.  He passed away last month and before he passed we talked about his Clinch County Panthers and who they were playing in the playoffs.  It is special to me that the last game we attended together was the 2010 State Championship game at the Georgia Dome on December 12, 2010 when the Panthers defeated Savannah Christian 24-14.  That was a special memory and the last Georgia high school football game I attended in person.

Yes, it’s “just” high school football and the players are 16-17 years old playing a game but it has been a large part of my life.  On Friday nights I head back to my room to open my SportsMic app and play on my Bluetooth speakers.  That’s my thing.  Always has been.

Today, it will be a little different.  I will be at work but I will tune into the games and shoo off anyone that wants to bother me.  If the technology works right, I’ll watch the games online from Georgia Public Broadcasting and then turn the volume down to listen to Warner Robins and Northside on SportsMic.

I have come a long way since that first football game on a cold night keeping warm with my tiny hands wrapped around my hot chocolate in Waycross in 1975 but in many ways I haven’t.  I still love the excitement of the game.   Thanks dad for passing this on to me.

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Friday Flashback: Coldest Ever High School Football Game

Tonight in the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) state quarterfinals, The Warner Robins Demons will host the Clarke Central Gladiators.  This matchup takes me back to the 1985 State Championship game which was played between these two teams in Athens, Georgia.  In fact, I start shivering immediately when I think about it.  It was the coldest high school football game I have ever attended.  I had to pull up the weather history to find the exact temperature which was 29 degrees at kickoff.  That was cold.

The 1985 season was my first full season of attending Warner Robins football games.  The team finished the regular season undefeated at 10-0 which was capped with a thrilling 21-14 overtime win over crosstown rivals Northside.  Warner Robins defeated Southwest Macon 40-14 and then Northside again 27-0 in the region playoffs.  Warner Robins edged Lowndes 8-7 in penetration in the first round and then beat Bradwell Institute 28-14 in the semifinals.

I decided to make the two-hour trip to Athens for the game.  At the time I was a single 21-year-old man in the Air Force and I was able to convince a date to go with me to the game.  More on that later.  When I arrived at the game I had general admission tickets and the only seats I could find were the front row of bleacher seats in one of the end zones.  I had a blanket and attempted to keep warm but the cold weather made the blanket as stiff as a sheet of plywood.  The bleachers were also full of some Clarke Central fans – one of which would purposely yell in my frozen ear every time his team made a big play.  I might have moved had I not been frozen to the bleacher.  I think every part of my body was cold that night.  I certainly wasn’t a whimp to the cold weather since I had just been transferred to Robins Air Force Base from Thule, Greenland and it was a painfully freezing reminder of Greenland.

Although the game was statistically close, Clarke Central recovered three Warner Robins fumbles, turning the first two into a pair of field goals (31 and 41 yards) by John Kasay, who also put four of five kickoffs deep into the end zone to help keep the Warner Robins offense backed up. Additionally both Gladiator touchdowns were big plays, the first a 53-yard pass from Robbie Kamerschen to Tommy Stewart on the Gladiators’ first possession of the second quarter and the second a 54-yard run by tailback Richard Jewel on Clarke’s first possession of the third period.

In comparison, the Gladiators committed only one turnover, a fumble at their own 42 late in the second quarter. After recovering, the Demons moved to a first down on the 4-yard line, but the Clarke Central defense held on three straight running plays inside the 2 and took over on downs, preserving a 13-7 halftime lead.

Kamerschen and Jewel accounted for the majority of Clarke’s 291 yards total offense, as the senior quarterback completed four of eight passes for 122 yards while the senior tailback rushed 14 times for 108 yards.

Warner Robins, which totaled 245 yards offense and led 14-13 in first downs, got 101 rushing yards on 16 carries from junior Jeff Thompson. But 98 of those came in the first half. Warner Robins totaled just 53 yards and two first downs after intermission.

The game was a disappointment. I had to drive the long trip back home.  The only consolation was that my car had heat and I would be able to thaw out on the drive.  I also had my date with me.

About that.

On the drive back I got that “You’re a nice guy but I just want to be friends” line.  Ouch.  My football team and my dating suffered a bitter defeat that night. That night was cold on so many levels.

But, as they say, it all worked out for the best.  As for Warner Robins, it took three seasons before they captured the state title and demolished Brookwood in 1988.

No high school game was colder than that night in Athens.

Georgia High School Football Kickoff Weekend

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Warner Robins, Villa Rica and Clinch County kick off new season

It’s is hard to believe that the 2018 Georgia High School Football season kicks off this weekend.  I’m not sure I have fully recovered from last year’s Class 5A championship game but I have to shake it off and turn the page to a new season.  For the past two seasons I have had a weekly feature on Georgia High School football.  I’m going to do it a little differently this year but I’m defintely going to be tuned in to high school football games on Friday nights again this fall; however, I will have a few weeks that I will miss here in the early part of the season due to personal reasons.

With each season there are three teams I always follow.  They are Warner Robins, Villa Rica and Clinch County.  Why these three teams?

I’ll start with the first one in my personal timeline – Clinch County.  My father used to play football for the Panthers.  The first football game he took me too was a Clinch County game and that’s something special to me.  Homerville is that typical small, rural Georgia town where they close down the town on Friday Nights to go to the football games.  It is a great atmosphere.  When I started high school, I attended Villa Rica High School where I attempted to play on the football team.  (There may be a blog about this later)   Then, years later, I ended up in Warner Robins and from 1984 – 2010 I spent many Friday nights in the fall at International City (now McConnell-Talbert) Stadium in Warner Robins.  I adopted Warner Robins as my team and I still follow them today.

So, here’s a little preview of the three teams I follow:

Warner Robins Demons

The Demons’ were my surprise team last season as they rebounded from a 3-8 season in 2016 to 14-1 and an appearance in the Class 5A State Championship game.  Warner Robins returns experienced quarterback Dylan Fromm (Yes, his older brother is Jake).  Dylan made his own mark on the high school field last season with a school record 3,505 yards and 35 touchdowns.  His favorite target is his brother – Tyler Fromm – who had 43 receptions for 529 yards and five touchdowns.  The only question mark for the Demons is how they will replace seven starters on defense.  The schedule is going to be interesting as well.  The Demons open tonight against Tift County as well as Colquitt County on September 14.  My gut tells me that the Demons might go 7-3 this season.

Villa Rica Wildcats

The Wildcats finished 5-5 last season and if not for two Paulding County schools (East Paulding and Paulding County), they would have made the playoffs.  In fact, the Wildcats started 4-1 but the second half was brutal with losses to Carrollton, Kell and Rome.  Villa Rica opens the season tonight at Campbell and they still have Carrollton, Rome and Kell to contend with.  Friday Night Football magazine lists Villa Rica as a team on the rise in Class 5A.  I’d like to agree with that but this is a tough region.  I’m thinking a 6-4 record for the ‘cats in 2018.

Clinch County Panthers

The Panthers are looking to repeat as Class A Public school champions this season and they have a pretty good shot at it with All-State Trezmen Marshall in his senior season.  Marshall is the first Clinch County player to be named Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Preseason Super 11.  The Georgia commit can do it all – kickoff specialist, inside linebacker, nose guard, punter, quarterback and tailback.  The Panthers finished second in the region but defeated region champion Irwin County for the state title last season.  The Panthers open at home tonight against Hebron Christian Academy before a challenging three weeks with games against Brooks County, Dooly County and Irwin County but playing these heavyweights at home will help.  I’m expecting the Panthers to roll to a 10-0 record.

As we embark on another high school football season, let me share with you some of my resources I use throughout the season:

  • Georgia High School Football Historians Assocation
    • This is absolutely the best-ever resource for team records, histories and statistical information
  • Georgia High School Football Daily
    • This has been an amazing resource of information.  It is produced and owned by Todd Holcomb and Chip Saye.  I’m not sure what’s going on with it this year as it hasn’t been updated since August 1st.
  • Score Atlanta
    • Another good source of information and stories as well as game reports.  I am usually constantly checking the High School Scoreboard on Friday nights.
  • Tommy Palmer Media Group
    • Tommy Palmer is a legend and I consider him THE expert in Georgia High School football.  He does the Georgia High School Scoreboard Radio Show starting around 10 pm on Friday nights.  Palmer also does a couple of other podcasts such as “This Week’s Top Ten” and “This Week’s Top Games”.
  • GPB Football App
    • Georgia Public Broadcasting has improved this app over the years and it is a good place to go.
  • Sportsmic App
    • This is another app on my iPhone and one I use to listen to Warner Robins broadcasts.

So here are my preseason picks to win state titles in 2018:

  • Class 7A:  McEachern
  • Class 6A: Tucker
  • Class 5A:  Rome
  • Class 4A:  Cairo
  • Class 3A: Peach County
  • Class 2A: Thomasville
  • Class 1A (Private): Eagle’s Landing Christian
  • Class 1A (Public):  Clinch County

Georgia High School Football Weekly (12/20/17)

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Clinch County becomes sixth team in Georgia to win at least seven state titles.

After five of the state championship games were postponed due to the winter storm, the games were finally played last week at various locations around the state.  There were several coaches and school administrators who complained when they ended up having to travel; however, only two (North Gwinnett and Lee County) of the five home teams won the title game on their own fields.

Let’s take a look back at the games:

Class 7A:  North Gwinnett 19, Colquitt County 17 – If you missed this game, you will need to go to the Georgia Public Television site and watch the final two minutes of this game.  After Colquitt County was called for two illegal substitution penalties, they were also penalized for pass interference on the final play which set up a game winning 38-yard field goal from North Gwinnett’s Cameron Clark to win the game.  I believe Colquitt County Coach Rush Propst’s clipboard is still spinning in the sky somewhere.  North Gwinnett won their first state title in school history.

Class 6A:  Lee County 28, Coffee  21 (overtime) – Lee County QB Jase Orndorff connected with Drequan Garmon on an 11-yard TD pass in overtime then Tay Mayo secured Lee County’s first state championship with an interception on Coffee’s possession.  Coffee missed a 29-yard field goal at the end of regulation.  Coffee RB Jameon Gaskin scored three touchdowns in the game to put Coffee up 21-7 before Lee County rallied in the second half.

Class 5A:  Rome 38, Warner Robins 0 – Trai Hodges returned an interception 79 yards for a touchdown as Rome broke open the game in the second quarter.  They would take a 21-0 lead at halftime as QB Knox Kadum was 8-0f-12 for 90 yards passing and a touchdown.  He also rushed for 73 yards.  Warner Robins could never get anything going as they were held to 1 yard rushing.  Rome repeated as state champion.

Class 4A:  Blessed Trinity 16, Marist 7 – QB Jake Smith completed 11-of-12 passes for 111 yards and a 9-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter to give Blessed Trinity all they would need to defeat Marist for the school’s first state championship.  The Titans’ defense held Marist to 63 yards rushing in the game.

Class 2A:  Hapeville Charter 35, Rabun County 23 –  Playing in only their seventh season, Hapeville Charter won the state title.  QB Hajj-Malik Williams was responsible for all the scoring for the Hornets with three passing and two rushing.  Hapeville Charter led 35-10 and held off a late rally by Rabun County in the final two minutes.

Class 1A (Public):  Clinch County 21, Irwin County 12 – Trezmen Marshall and Charles McClelland combined for 249 yards and three touchdowns to lead Clinch County to their seventh state title.  The Panthers’ defense set up the offense for the score which sealed the win when Marshall had a sack and forced a fumble to give the Panthers the ball at the Irwin County 24 with less than three minutes left.

BLOWOUT OF THE WEEK:

I don’t want to talk about.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK:

North Gwinnett Kicker Cameron Clark kicked the game-winning 38-yard field goal on the last play to give the Bulldogs their first state title.  Clark had missed an extra point earlier in the quarter as Colquitt County took the lead later 17-16.  Clark responded to the pressure to kick the winning field goal.

NOTES:

  • Clinch County became the sixth school to win at least seven state championships.  They join the elite company of Valdosta (22), Buford (11), Lincoln County (11), Carrollton (7), and Americus (7).
  • Rome dominated their playoff competition this season.  Their average margin of victory was 46.2 in the playoffs.
  • Lee County-Coffee played only the sixth overtime game in championship history.  Buford won the first championship overtime game in 2010.
  • Lee County had never advanced past the second round before this season.
  • Blessed Trinity and Marist was the first state championship game played between Catholic schools.
  • Blessed Trinity coach Tim McFarlin became the 15th coach in Georgia history to win state titles at two schools.  He previously won a title at Roswell.

TEAM SPOTLIGHT:

ngwinnettThe North Gwinnett Bulldogs have played for 57 seasons.  They have a record of 307-283-9.  They have made the playoffs 15 times.  Their best season was in 2017 when they finished 14-1 and won their first state championship.  North Gwinnett played their first game on October 27, 1961 when they lost 38-0 to Duluth.  They won their first game on November 9, 1962 with a 12-0 win over Forsyth County.   Their biggest rival is Duluth.  They have an all-time record of 25-23-1.  Bob Sphire is the winningest coach in their history with 110 wins.  Their most notable players are OT Austin Shepherd (Minnesota Vikings), TE C.J. Uzomah (Cincinnati Bengals), OT Ja’Wuan James (Miami Dolphins) and TE Jared Cook (Tennessee Titans, St. Louis Rams, Green Bay Packers and Oakland Raiders).  The Bulldogs play at Tom Robinson Memorial Stadium in Suwanee.

REVIEW OF MY PREVIEW:

From my preview of the 2017 Georgia High School Football season, let’s take a look at my picks and what really happened in the season.  Correct predictions are in BOLD.

  • State Champions:
    • 7A – Roswell – finished 3-8. Lost to Hillgrove 49-7 in first round.
    • 6A – Dalton – finished 7-4.  Lost to Douglas County 13-6 in first round.
    • 5A – Kell – finished 5-6.  Lost to Flowery Branch 21-14 in first round.
    • 4A – Cartersville – finished 11-1.  Lost to Blessed Trinity 21-17 in second round.
    • 3A – Peach County – finished 13-2.  Lost to Calhoun 10-6 in state final.
    • 2A – Callaway – finished 11-2.  Lost to Brooks County 31-0 in quarterfinals.
    • 1A (Public) – Clinch County – finished 12-2.  Won state championship.
    • 1A (Private) – Prince Avenue Christian – finished 11-2.  Lost to Eagle’s Landing Christian 55-0 in semifinals.
  • Surprise teams:
    • 7A – Camden County – 2-7 in 2016 to 3-7 in 2017 after starting 2-1.
    • 6A – Johns Creek – 8-3 in 2016 to 3-7 in 2017.
    • 5A – Warner Robins – 3-8 in 2016 to 14-1 in 2017. 
    • 4A – Cairo – 11-2 in 2016 to 8-4 in 2017.
    • 3A – Liberty County – 11-2 in 2016 to 9-4 in 2017.
    • 2A – Thomasville – 5-5 in 2016 to 12-1 in 2017.
    • 1A (public) – Charlton County – 3-6 in 2016 to 9-3 in 2017.
    • 1A (private) – Tattnall Square – 12-1 in 2016 to 7-4 in 2017.

GEORGIA HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL STATE CHAMPIONS:

  • 7A: North Gwinnett
  • 6A: Lee County
  • 5A: Rome
  • 4A: Blessed Trinity
  • 3A: Calhoun
  • 2A:  Hapeville Charter
  • 1A (public): Clinch County
  • 1A (private): Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy
  • GISA-AAA: Valwood School
  • GISA-AA: Memorial Day
  • Glory for Christ (homeschool football):  East Atlanta
  • GICAA-Division I:  Crosspointe Christian Academy
  • GICAA-Division II: Holy Ground Baptist Academy

FINAL NOTE:

The 2017 Georgia High School football season is now over.  I want to thank all of my blog followers, visitors and those who liked these posts during the season.  It has been a lot of work for me but a lot of fun to keep you informed during the season.   I gather my information from several sources such the Georgia High School Football Daily, Georgia High School Football Historians (this is an awesome website), ScoreAtl, Tommy Palmer (The Professor of Georgia High School football) and several media websites.  Each week I have tried to give you any tidbits I have learned or researched for this blog.

The Agony of Defeat

I didn’t play a single play or coach in the game yet I sit here an hour after listening to my team lose the state championship game. It wasn’t even close.

I’m very familiar with this hollow feeling having experienced this same feeling in June when the Nashville Predators lost the Stanley Cup and before that in February when the Atlanta Falcons collapsed in the Super Bowl. That one nearly ended my sports life.

I will be okay tomorrow. I will move on. Right now it stinks.

Yes, my football team had an amazing season. If you had told me they would even be playing in the state championship game I wouldn’t have believed you. It was a good season. I will appreciate that more later but I’m not so much into reflection right now.

Life will go on. It’s just sports right? Why do I get so caught up in it? I don’t know. That’s just how I am. It’s the roller coaster ride I live.

None of this really matters in the grand scheme of things of my life. My life is not changed by it even if my team had won. So, I need to shake it off and finish my Christmas shopping.

I won’t have much time to recover from my sports blues with Georgia playing in the college football playoff, watching to see how the Titans finish the NFL season as well as a peek or two at how the Falcons finish. I’m inviting more misery aren’t I?

I need to write another football book with a happy ending. It seems fiction is the only way I’m going to experience the thrill of victory anytime soon on my sports rollercoaster.

Weeeeeeeeeeee!

Georgia High School Football Weekly (12/13/17)

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Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy and Calhoun Win State Titles before snow hits Atlanta

The high school football season is not over yet as a freak winter storm hit the Atlanta area last weekend with snow which forced the cancellations of six state championship games which were scheduled to be played inside of the Mercedes Benz Stadium.  Although the games were indoor, the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) postponed the games out of concern for players, coaches, students, parents and fans traveling to the game.  Only two games were played before the postponements were announced.  The postponed games reverted us back to the past when state championship games were played at the location of one of the participating schools.

Here’s a look at the games that were played:

Class 1A (Private):  Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy 41, Athens Academy 3

I don’t think anyone was surprised by this result as ELCA continued their domination of the 2017 season.  The Chargers jumped out to a 27-0 lead at halftime and held Athens Academy without a first down and just 22 yards.  ELCA’s average margin of victory in its four playoff games broke the previous record held by Warner Robins in 1976.  The Chargers won their 36th straight game and third straight state title.

Class 3A:  Calhoun 10, Peach County 6

In one of the most controversial games in recent memory, Calhoun’s only touchdown came when Brannon Spector intercepted a pass and returned it 45 yards for a touchdown with 23 seconds left in the first half.  The controversy occurred late in the fourth quarter when Peach County QB Antonio Gilbert connected with Noah Whittington on a 21-yard pass.  Whittington caught the pass and stretched for the goal line.  The ball popped loose when the ball came down on the goal line which was ruled incomplete.  This week Peach County had issued a statement that they would appeal.  Don’t expect anything to happen.  Appeals like this are rarely granted.  In spite of the controversy, the low scoring game was not expected.  Calhoun won its third state title in seven seasons.

Here are the games to be played this week:

Class 7A:  Colquitt County at North Gwinnett

  • Coaches:  Rush Propst (Colquitt County) 281-94, Bill Stewart (North Gwinnett) 54-27
  • Key Players:
    • Colquitt County:  QB Steven Krajewski has completed 184 of 282 passes for 2,211 yards and 22 touchdowns
    • North Gwinnett:  QB Jimmy Urzua is 12-0 as a starter since Cade Fortin went down with an injury early in the season.
  • Championship Game Records:
    • Colquitt County (3-2)
    • North Gwinnett (0-2)
  • OUTLOOK:  Colquitt County has no fear to play on the road.  They have won their last four on the road in the playoffs after losing their last two games of the regular season.  North Gwinnett has rolled along quietly after losing their opener against Walton.  They took down Grayson in the second round.  My prediction is:  Colquitt County 33, North Gwinnett 21

Class 6A:  Coffee at Lee County

  • Coaches:  Robby Pruitt (Coffee) 340-78-1, Dean Fabrizio (Lee County) 65-35
  • Key Players:
    • Coffee:  RB Jameon Gaskin has rushed for 1,242 yards and 17 TDs this season; QB Wade Sumner has passed for 2,106 yards and rushed for 413 yards on the ground.
    • Lee County:  The defense has held 11 opponents to 17 points or less this season; QB Jase Orndorff has passed for 3,099 yards this season
  • Championship game records:  First game for both teams
  • OUTLOOK:  Many are picking this game to be a low-scoring, defensive battle but I do not.  These two teams have some powerful offensive weapons.  It will come down to who has the ball last to win it.  My prediction is:  Coffee 30, Lee County 24

Class 5A:  Rome at Warner Robins

  • Coaches: John Reid (Rome) 152-50, Mike Chastain (17-8)
  • Key Players:
    • Rome:  DE Adam Anderson, DT Quon Griffin and DE Jamarcus Chatman are all college talent;  QB Knox Kadum has passed for 1,956 yards and 22 touchdowns.
    • Warner Robins:  QB Dylan Fromm is 277 of 443 passing for 3,437 yards and 35 touchdowns; WR Julius Cobbs has 1,123 yards in receiving and 12 touchdowns;  RB Jarius Burnett has 1,248 yards rushing
  • Championship game records:
    • Rome (1-0)
    • Warner Robins (4-1)
    • Last state championship game at home:  Warner Robins 33, Brookwood 7 (1988)
  • OUTLOOK:  Rome has not played a close game all season since winning their opener against Harrison (33-21).  The Wolves have rolled over their playoff opponents.  Warner Robins has a very potent passing attack and explosive running back in Jarius Burnett.  Rome has three Division I college prospects on the defensive line.  My prediction:  Rome 38, Warner Robins 14.  (Not the way I WANT it to go and I’m still glad they play the game.  Anything can happen.)

Class 4A:  Blessed Trinity at Marist

  • Coaches: Tim McFarlin (Blesssed Trinity) 155-53-2, Alan Chadwick (Marist) 364-67
  • Key Players:
    • Marist:  QB Chase Abner has passed for 1.577 yards and 12 touchdowns.  He has also rushed for 959 yards and 16 touchdowns.
    • Blessed Trinity:  QB Jake Smith has passed for 2,020 yards; RB Steele Chambers has 1,250 yards rushing; RB Elijah Green has 1,231 yards;  WR Ryan Davis has 1,213 yards.
  • Championship game records:
    • Marist (2-8)
    • Last state championship game at home:  Marist 21, Statesboro 6 (2003)
    • Blessed Trinity (0-1)
  • OUTLOOK:  Blessed Trinity has rolled through the playoffs.  The Titans shocked Cartersville in the second round.  They have a powerful offense that can score.  Marist has rolled through the season undefeated.  Marist always seems to be around at the end of the season but often has trouble winning the big game.  My prediction:  Blessed Trinity 21, Marist 17

Class 2A:  Hapeville Charter at Rabun County

  • Coaches: Winston Gordon (Hapeville Charter) 37-34-1, Lee Shaw (Rabun County) 152-91
  • Key Players:
    • Rabun County:  QB Bailey Fisher has passed for 3,145 yards and rushed for 1,175  with 67 touchdowns.
    • Hapeville Charter:  DE Kingsley Enagbare, CB Chris Smith, DL Caleb Kelley and LB Zyon Bagley lead a strong defense.
  • Championship game records:  First game for both teams
  • OUTLOOK:  Hapeville Charter is only in their seventh season back.  The Hornets’ defense has been difficult for their opponents.  They have only given up 21 point or more three times this season.  Rabun County has been piling up the points scoring 35 or more 12 times this season.  My prediction:  Rabun County 33, Hapeville Charter 14

Class 1A (Public):  Clinch County at Irwin County

  • Coaches: Jim Dickerson (Clinch County) 138-43-1, Buddy Nobles (Irwin County) 41-11-2
  • Key Players:
    • Irwin County:  RB D.J. Lundy has rushed for 1,170 yards and 22 touchdowns
    • Clinch County:  Charles McClelland and Trezmen Marshall lead the Panthers’ offense.
  • Championship game records:
    • Clinch County (6-2)
    • Irwin County (1-5)
  • OUTLOOK:  Irwin County is looking to finally winning it all after making the state final in three of the last four years.   Clinch County has a capable offense but will have to eliminate penalties and turnovers that have plagued them in their losses this season.  This should be a tough, defensive battle.  My prediction:  Irwin County 21, Clinch County 14

NOTES FROM THIS WEEK:

  • This is the first time since 2007 that championship games will not be held at neutral sites.
    • Lowndes 34, North Gwinnett 6 (at Lowndes)
    • Northside Warner Robins 20, Ware County 14 (at Waycross)
    • Carver-Columbus 16, Cairo 13 (at Cairo)
    • Buford 50, Lovett 0 (at Buford)
    • Emanuel County Institute 41, Wilcox County 21 (at Cordele)
  • North Gwinnett, Lee County, Irwin County and Rabun County have never hosted a state title game.
  • Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy is the first team to have a “three-peat” since Buford did it 2007-2010.  They join the exclusive club along with Valdosta, West Rome, Thomas County Central, Parkview and Charlton County.
  • Three of the state title games are between teams from the same region.  (Coffee-Lee County, Blessed Trinity-Marist, Clinch County-Irwin County.)
  • Warner Robins and Rabun County won coin flips to host the title games.
  • Wright Bazemore (Valdosta) won 14 state titles as head coach.

BLOWOUT OF THE WEEK:

Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy 41, Athens Academy 3.  The Chargers are no stranger to this category in 2017.  They have blown out 13 of their 14 opponents this season.  The closest game they played was a 21-14 win over Eagle’s Landing in the first game of the season.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK:

Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy WR Sean Queen had three catches for 81 yards and two touchdowns – both in the third quarter – in the Chargers’ win over Athens Academy.

TEAM SPOTLIGHT:

Irwin

The Irwin County Indians play in Ocilla, Georgia.  The school has fielded a football teams since 1952.  The team is 423-285-17 over 66 seasons.  They have qualified for the playoffs 32 times.  The Indians played their first game on September 19, 1952 when they lost to Mitchell County 27-0.  They won their first game on October 24, 1952 when they shutout Bacon County 31-0.    Their biggest rivalry is Fitzgerald.  They trail the all-time series 17-44-3.  Joe Compton is their winningest coach with 44 wins from 1983-1988.   Irwin County’s best season was in 1975 when they went 13-0 and won their only state championship over Jefferson.   Their most notable players were DB Jack Smith who played for the Philadelphia Eagles (1971) and DB Walt Sumner who played for the Cleveland Browns (1969-1974).

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.