The Turbulent Flight Of A Falcons’ Fan


I watched the Atlanta Falcons defeat the Seattle Seahawks in Saturday’s National Football League (NFL) playoffs.  It was a lot of work.  It’s pretty sad when you can’t relax and feel confident that your team can hold onto a 16-point lead in the fourth quarter.  

That’s the plight of being a lifelong Falcons’ fan.  Frustration.  Disappointment.  Finding defeat in certain victory.  

The first season I really followed the Falcons was in 1977.  That was the first year of the “Gritz Blitz” and a defense that set a record at that time for only allowing 129 points during a 14-game season.  

There have certainly been some bright spots along the way.  

The biggest moment was when Morten Anderson kicked the game winning field goal against Minnesota in the 1998 National Football Conference (NFC) championship to put the Falcons in their first Super Bowl.  I was a very elated fan.  

That elation was soon turned to another disappointment when the Falcons lost to the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl. 

Other disappointments that have conditioned me to be cautious over the years:

  • Dallas Cowboys 30, Atlanta Falcons 27 (1980 NFC Playoffs)
  • San Francisco 28, Atlanta Falcons 24 (2012 NFC Championship Game)
  • Green Bay Packers 48, Atlanta Falcons 21 (2010 NFC Playoffs)
  • Dallas Cowboys 20, Atlanta Falcons 17 (1978 NFC Playoffs)

So even with the victories, the Falcons have never had that “mojo” that a team needs to win consistently – especially in the playoffs.  The image of Danny White leading the Cowboys back in the 1980 playoffs is still burned into the memories of Falcon fans.  My stomach gets upset every time I see that game. 

So forgive me if this seems a little negative.  It isn’t just negativity, it has been my reality for the past 40 years. Expect disappointment but always hopeful.  

I mean, the Cubs did win the World Series so anything is possible right?

Please don’t call Matt Ryan “Marty Ice” because that will mean a pick six is going to happen.  I try not to be negative.  Really I’m not.  

When my wife asked me if I was excited about watching the Falcons’ game Saturday, I honestly answered “No” because it’s never easy.  Watching the Falcons is a lot of work.  I was physically worn out after the game. 

That’s the life of a Falcons’ fan.  

So now after a big win over the Seahawks, the Falcons will play again next week.  I don’t care about who they play.  It really doesn’t matter.  I know it’s going to be another three hours of work.  

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)

 

Georgia High School Football Review: Second Round

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In the first round Lowndes defeated Hillgrove 92-61 so going into the second round, you had to wonder how the Vikings would respond to Norcross.   I expected a close, defensive battle but Lowndes didn’t miss a beat as they won 57-21.  They will play Westlake this week in the quarterfinals.  It will be the first-ever meeting between the two teams.

The Colquitt County Packers lit up the scoreboard in their second round game as they took out Brookwood 66-35.   Colquitt County quarterback Jay Saunders threw five touchdowns and 374 yards along with 74 yards rushing.  The Packers scored on all eight possessions of the first half.  Colquitt County will play #1 ranked Grayson in the quarterfinals.  The Packers are 2-1 against Grayson, winning 21-6 in their last meeting in 2013.

Valdosta 35, Northgate 0 – The Wildcats outgained Northgate 315-190 in total yardage and overcame some of their own mistakes to advance to the quarterfinals against Stephenson.  In their only previous meeting, the Wildcats defeated Stephenson 31-28 in the 2001 quarterfinals.  Valdosta is in the quarterfinals for the first time since 2010.

Mays 35, Lee County 22 – Mays rallied from a 22-8 deficit at halftime.  The Raiders shut out Lee County in the second half then sealed the win when Ferlando Jordan intercepted a pass and went 48 yards with 1:17 left to play.  Mays will play Tucker in the quarterfinals.  Tucker is 6-2 against Mays.  Tucker has won the last five times.   This is their first meeting in the playoffs.

Glynn Academy 47, Allatoona 7 – In a rematch of the 2015 Class 6A state title game, the Red Terrors got their revenge in a big way as quarterback DeeJay Dallas rushed 14 times for 123 yards and two touchdowns.  He also connected on touchdown passes of 44 and 58 yards.   Glynn Academy will host Northside Warner Robins this week.  Northside is 2-0 against Glynn Academy.  They won 31-7 in the 2014 quarterfinals.

Carrollton 41, Thomas County Central 14 – The Trojan defense shut down the Yellow Jackets as they built a 27-0 lead in the second quarter and cruised to an easy win.  Carrollton quarterback DeOndre Sullivan had 110 yards passing and 58 yards rushing in the game.   Carrollton will play at Buford in the quarterfinals.   It will be their first meeting.

Blessed Trinity 21, Carver-Columbus 17 – The Titans held on as Carver overcame a 24-7 deficit then forced the Tigers to turn over the ball on downs with under two minutes to play.  Blessed Trinity moves on to face Mary Persons this week.  It will be their first meeting.

Crisp County 30, Lovett 29 – Crisp County quarterback connected with Quay Walker on a 25-yard pass with 37 seconds left to knock off Lovett.  The Cougars will host Pierce County in the quarterfinals.   Crisp County is in the quarterfinal round for the first time since 2001.

Tattnall 13, Stratford 7 – In a battle of city rivals, Ahmad Barron scored on a 22-yard run early in the third quarter as the Tattnall defense kept Stratford off the scoreboard in the second half to advance. Tattnall will play in Savannah at Calvary Day next.   Tattnall is 2-1 all-time against Calvary Day.  They lost 20-19 in their last meeting in 1987.

 

Georgia High School Football Review: First Round State Playoffs

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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

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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.