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.

 

100_0449f
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.

 

Advertisements

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.

Georgia High School Football Weekly (11/8/17)

towns
Towns County To Play In Postseason For First Time In School History

The regular season is over and it’s playoff time in Georgia High School football.  Let’s take a look at how the top teams in each classification finished the season:

  • 7A – Archer (10-0) beat Shiloh 49-0.  QB Carter Peevey passed for 266 yards and four touchdowns.  Archer will open the playoffs at home against Meadowcreek (7-3).  This will be the first meeting between to two schools.
  • 6A – Tucker (9-1) shutout Stephenson 38-0.  The Tigers jumped out to a 17-0 lead in the first quarter and never looked back.  Tucker will host Lakeside-Evans (2-8) this week.  This week’s first round game will be the first meeting.
  • 5A – Rome (10-0) defeated Woodland-Cartersville 62-0.  Jalynn Sykes had 102 yards rushing for the Wolves.  Rome will host Cedar Shoals (6-4) this week.   Rome defeated Cedar Shoals 26-17 in the first round of the 2000 playoffs.
  • 4A – Cartersville (10-0) won their region showdown with Troup 52-13.  Rico Frye rushed for 187 yards and Trevor Lawrence passed for 200 yards.  The Purple Hurricanes will begin their quest for another state title when they host Pickens (5-5).  Cartersville is 20-0 all-time against Pickens.
  • 3A – Cedar Grove (10-0) demolished Redan 73-0.  Jadon Haselwood had 55 yards receiving along with two touchdowns.  He also intercepted two passes.  Cedar Grove will host Adairsville (6-4) this week.  This will be their first meeting.
  • 2A – Benedictine (10-0) beat Jeff Davis 41-0.  Travis Blackshear had 76 yards rushing and three touchdowns.  The Cadets will host Berrien (4-6) this week.   Benedictine and Berrien will play for the first time.
  • 1A (Public) – Manchester (10-0) edged Macon County 22-20.  Garrett Brown threw a game-tying touchdown pass to Jon Ferguson with 15 seconds left then Kelvin Turner scored for the two-point conversion.  Manchester has a bye in the first round of the playoffs this week.
  • 1A (Private) – Eagle’s Landing Christian (10-0) beat Landmark Christian 69-7.  The Chargers dominated the game with 573 yards of total offense.  ECLA will have a bye this week.

NEWS FROM THE WEEK

  • There were 29 new region champions this season.  Only 27 of 56 region champions from last season were able to repeat.
  • Mini-games were needed in five regions to determine playoff spots.
  • Marietta qualified as this season’s 7A wildcard team.
  • Calhoun tied a state record with their 17th consecutive region title.  They tied Lincoln County (1982-1998).
  • Speaking of Lincoln County, they have the state’s longest streak of playoff appearances with 44.
  • Warner Robins won their region title and finished 10-0 after finishing 3-7 last season.  The biggest turnaround this season.
  • Howard (6-4) has qualified for the playoffs for the first time in school history.
  • South Effingham has the worst record (1-9) in the postseason.  They beat Statesboro last week to clinch a playoff spot.
  • Towns County has qualified for their first playoff in school history.  The school began playing football in 1969.
  • Jenkins (10-0) finished with their first undefeated regular season in school history.
  • Campbell was 0-10 last season.  They finished 4-6 and qualified for their first playoff game since 2006.
  • Walton (10-0) was 4-6 last year.
  • Americus-Sumter won their first region title in school history.  Americus merged with Sumter County in 2004.

BLOWOUT OF THE WEEK

Cedar Grove 73, Redan 0

POLL JUMPER OF THE WEEK

Aquinas (7-3) went from unranked to #6 in this week’s poll after their 30-27 win over Stratford Academy to win the Region 7 title.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK

John Paul of Aquinas ran for 103 yards and a touchdown, passed for 207 yards and two touchdowns and made five tackles in a 30-27 win over Stratford Academy.

PERSONAL WATCH LIST:

  • Warner Robins 35, Bainbridge 6 – The Demons only needed the first half to win their first region title since 2013.  Dylan Fromm was 28-of-35 passing for 310 yards and three touchdowns.  Warner Robins will host South Effingham (1-9) this week.  This will be their first meeting.  South Effingham’s only win this season was their last game where they defeated Statesboro 28-17 to claim the playoff spot.
  • Clinch County 32, Telfair County 13 – Charles McClelland had 94 yards passing and 112 yards rushing.  The Panthers will have a bye in the first round of the playoffs.
  • Villa Rica is playing basketball.

GHSA STATE PLAYOFF BRACKETS ARE HERE:

MILTON’S PREDICTIONS:

After reviewing all of the brackets, here are my final four teams for each classification.  My pick for state champions are in bold:

  • 7A – Brookwood, Archer, Lowndes, Grayson
  • 6A – Alpharetta, Tucker, Lee County, Harrison
  • 5A – Rome, Buford, Warner Robins, Wayne County
  • 4A – Marist, Woodward Academy, Cartersville, Mary Persons
  • 3A – Greater Atlanta Christian, Peach County, Cedar Grove, Calhoun
  • 2A – Brooks County, Rabun County, Thomasville, Benedictine
  • 1A Public – Manchester, Clinch County, Irwin County, Commerce
  • 1A Private – Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy, Prince Avenue Christian, Tattnall Square, Fellowship Christian

FIRST ROUND PLAYOFF SCHEDULE

Class 7A
Collins Hill at Milton
South Gwinnett at Brookwood
Newnan at Tift County
Roswell at Hillgrove
West Forsyth at Mill Creek
Meadowcreek at Archer
Colquitt County at Pebblebrook
North Cobb at Walton
Newton at Parkview
Mountain View at South Forsyth
Etowah at McEachern
Campbell at Lowndes
Norcross at Grayson
North Forsyth at North Gwinnett
North Paulding at Woodstock
Marietta at Westlake
Class 6A
Dalton at Douglas Co.
Gainesville at Alpharetta
Effingham Co. at Coffee
Drew at Evans
Hughes at Allatoona
Pope at Dacula
Northside, WR at Brunswick
Lakeside, Evans at Tucker
Lanier at Centennial
Sequoyah at Mays
Lovejoy at Grovetown
Richmond Hill at Lee Co.
Chattahoochee at Winder-Barrow
Alexander at Harrison
Heritage, Con. at Stephenson
Valdosta at Glynn Academy
Class 5A
Banneker at SW DeKalb
Cedar Shoals at Rome
New Hampstead at Bainbridge
Dutchtown at Starr’s Mill
Miller Grove at Jackson, Atl.
Paulding Co. at Buford
Harris Co. at Ware Co.
McIntosh at Stockbridge
Clarke Central at Carrollton
North Springs at Arabia Mtn.
Eagle’s Landing at Whitewater
South Effingham at Warner Robins
Kell at Flowery Branch
Columbia at Carver, Atlanta
Griffin at Jones Co.
Thomas Co. Cent. at Wayne Co.
Class 4A
Northwest Whitfield at Cedartown
Madison Co. at Marist
Spalding at Cairo
Salem at Burke Co.
Troup at Heritage, Ringgold
West Hall at St. Pius
Northside, Col. West Laurens
Richmond Acad. at Woodward Acad.
Oconee Co. at Blessed Trinity
Pickens at Cartersville
North Clayton at Thomson
Howard at Americus-Sumter
White Co. at Jefferson
Chapel Hill at Ridgeland
Baldwin at Eastside
Carver, Columbus at Mary Persons
Class 3A
Bremen at Lovett
Jackson Co. at GAC
Tattnall Co. at Cook
Jackson at Jenkins
Westminster at North Murray
East Hall at Morgan Co.
Monroe at Pierce Co.
Savannah at Peach Co.
Hart Co. at Dawson Co.
Adairsville at Cedar Grove
Pike Co. at Southeast Bulloch
Appling Co. at Crisp Co.
North Hall at Monroe Area
Pace Academy at Calhoun
Windsor Forest at Westside, Macon
Dougherty at Liberty Co.
Class 2A
Douglass at Callaway
Monticello at Rockmart
Vidalia at Brooks Co.
Butler at Dodge Co.
Temple at B.E.S.T. Academy
Chattooga at Rabun Co.
Fitzgerald at Toombs Co.
Washington Co. at Screven Co.
Banks Co. at Pepperell
South Atlanta at Heard Co.
Harlem at Dublin
Jeff Davis at Thomasville
Coosa at Elbert Co.
Spencer at Hapeville Charter
Southwest at Jefferson Co.
Berrien at Benedictine
Class 1A (private)
Strong Rock Christian at Calvary Day
Wesleyan bye
Hebron Christian at Savannah Christian
Eagle’s Landing Christian bye
Walker at Whitefield Academy
Prince Avenue Christian bye
Mount de Sales at Darlington
Aquinas bye
Brookstone at Savannah Country Day
Mount Pisgah Christian bye
Tattnall Square at First Presbyterian
Athens Academy bye
Fellowship Christ. at George Walton
Stratford Academy bye
Our Lady of Mercy at Mount Vernon
Mount Paran Christian bye
Class 1A (public)
Telfair Co. at Marion Co.
Mount Zion-Carroll bye
Chattahoochee Co. at Wash.-Wilkes
Manchester bye
Dooly Co. at Trion
Clinch Co. bye
Turner Co. at Schley Co.
Mitchell Co. bye
Towns Co. at Pelham
Macon Co. bye
Taylor Co. at Lincoln Co.
Irwin Co. bye
Montgomery Co. at Charlton Co.
Commerce bye
Miller Co. at Jenkins Co.
Emanuel Co. Institute bye


TEAM SPOTLIGHT

The Rabun County Wildcats are currently 10-0 and ranked #5 in Class 2A.  The Wildcats haverabun played football since 1949 and have compiled a record of 361-327-13.  They have had three seasons when they finished the regular season undefeated (1957, 2016, 2017).   Rabun County has now qualified for the playoffs 25 times in their 69 year history (last six seasons).  They have advanced to the quarterfinals three times (1998, 2015, 2016).  Frank Snyder is their winningest coach with a 91-51-7 record from 1950-1964.  Their most notable player was TE Charlie Woerner who played at Georgia in 2015.   The home field is Frank Snyder Stadium located in Tiger, Georgia.

Friday Flashback: Georgia Dome hosting State Championships (2008)

dome

This weekend is the last time Georgia high school football state championships will be played in the Georgia Dome.  The dome has hosted the championship games in all classifications since 2008.  Prior to that season, semifinal games were played in the dome and championship games were played at the host school.

Personally I have never been a fan of playing the championship games in the dome.  I have always felt that the games lost a little of their magic taking it away from the communities that have supported their teams the entire season.  The only state championship game I attended at the Georgia Dome was when Clinch County defeated Savannah Christian in 2010.

In the first title games played in the dome in 2008, the results were:

  • Wesleyan 33, Emanuel County Institute 21
  • Buford 45, Calhoun 21
  • Cairo 28, Flowery Branch 14
  • Tucker 15, Marist 3
  • Camden County 21, Peachtree Ridge 14

There were five classifications in 2008.  Today there are eight with a new classification (7A) added this season.

Like the 2008 games, both Buford and Tucker are playing for state titles this season.   Grayson coach Jeff Herron was the coach for Camden County in 2008.

The games may move to the new Mercedes Benz Stadium next season but no plans have been finalized.  If the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) is intent on playing the championship games at a centrally-located, neutral site, they should consider Mercer University’s football stadium in Macon, Georgia.

When the final game has been played and the lights go out in the Georgia Dome, eight state champions will be crowned and in the end it will not matter where they played the game.

 

 

Georgia High School Football Review: State Quarterfinals

1125_masp_mary_persons_ct_009

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)

 

Georgia High School Football Review: First Round State Playoffs

lowndes

It was a wild night in the first round of the Georgia high school football state playoffs.  If you are a high school football coach, how can you prepare your team for winning or losing in a game that ends with a basketball score?   The Lowndes Vikings defeated Hillgrove 92-61.  Yes, I had to look at that score more than once and then verify it was not a typo.  The 153 points scored in the game is the highest scoring game in state history.  The previous record was held by Douglas A&M in their 144-0 victory of Ocilla in 1922.

Banks County had the easiest game in the first round as they defeated KIPP Atlanta by forfeit.  KIPP officials decided they would forfeit the game when their players were involved in a huge brawl in their final regular season game.  If you were wondering about this KIPP school, it stands for Knowledge is Power Program which is a tuition-free, public school in West Atlanta with college prep courses designed to push students to college.  It would have been KIPP’s first-ever playoff game.

Of the 14 first-time schools in the playoffs, three were able to claim their first playoff wins:

  • Arabia Mountain 34, Villa Rica 14
  • Hapeville Charter 42, Monticello 0
  • North Murray 28, Jackson County 14

Some of the nail-biting finishes:

Sandy Creek 23, Marist 20 (ot) – The Patriots rallied from a 17-point deficit at halftime to defeat Marist.  Sandy Creek quarterback Bryant Walker connected with Parker Mallett for the winning touchdown pass in overtime.

Westlake 24, Etowah 23 – James Miller kicked a 22-yard field goal with three seconds left for the win.  Westlake advances to play South Gwinnett in the second round.

Woodstock 35, East Coweta 34 – Woodstock overcame a 27-point deficit and scored on a 47-yard halfback pass from Louis Hall to Noah Frith with 2:19 left.

Northgate 20, Centennial 16 – Northgate scored on a 7-yard run by Ton Evans with 1:48 remaining to win the game.  Northgate will play at Valdosta in the second round.

Upsets in the first round:

  • Heritage-Ringgold 37, Stephens County 30
  • West Hall 24, Troup 21
  • Savannah 27, Cook 3
  • Clarke Central 35, Carver-Atlanta 32
  • Northwest Whitfield 31, Oconee County 20

 

 

Georgia High School Football Review

62286

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.   It’s playoff season!

Georgia teams finished up their regular season schedules as teams either packed up their gear or got into position for a state playoff berth.

In one of the most interesting matchups with playoff implications was with Houston County.  The previous #1 team and all-world quarterback Jake Fromm needed to beat Valdosta to get into the playoffs.  They were unable to hold on to a 24-7 lead in the third quarter as the Wildcats came back for a 28-24 win.  Fromm was held to only 174 yards passing in the game.

Dalton finished the season at 10-0 with a thrilling 24-22 win over defending 6A champions Allatoona.  Allatoona scored in the final minute but Dalton stopped a two-point conversion to hold on for the win.  One of the amazing stats from the game was that Dalton had minus 11 yards rushing in the game.

Crisp County defeated Worth County 28-20 for the Region 4 championship in 3A.  Crisp County QB Patrick Felton tossed a 62-yard touchdown pass on the first play.  The Cougars never trailed in the game.

This week there were some very high scoring games:

  • Parkview 67, Central Gwinnett 43
  • Alexander 49, Douglas County 42
  • East Hall 71, Fannin County 58
  • Johnson County 54, Hancock Central 36
  • Liberty County 56, Pierce County 46
  • River Ridge 55, South Cobb 30
  • Trion 57, Mt. Pisgah Christian 39

Islands defeated Groves 51-12 to qualify for the playoffs for the first time in school history.   They will travel to Cordele to play Crisp County in the first round.

Lincoln County defeated First Presbyterian 55-27 and may have continued their streak of playoff appearances.   They lead the state with 42 consecutive seasons.  Class A playoff qualifications and pairings will be determined this week.

In a battle of North vs. South, North Gwinnett will playoff South Gwinnett in the first round.  It will be their first meeting since 2005.  The all-time series is tied 6-6.

On a personal note, I will have my eyes on the Class 5A first round matchups Warner Robins at Griffin and Villa Rica at Arabia Mountain.  I attended Villa Rica High School (1977-1980) and lived in Warner Robins and attended several games (1984-2009).   If those teams win, they will meet in the second round.  I would love to see it but both have huge tasks ahead of them.  Warner Robins is 3-7 and travels to Griffin (9-1).   Warner Robins leads the all-time series 3-1 including at 34-0 win in the 1976 state championship game.  Villa Rica (5-5) faces Arabia Mountain (8-2) for the first time.   This is also the first time Arabia Mountain has been in the playoffs.