When Your Team Loses

sad-sports-fan-609x419I am sitting here at my computer on another Friday night.  Tonight there are no high school football games for me to stream.  The season is over.  It came to a bitter end on Tuesday night when my team lost the state championship game in overtime 47-41 after rallying from a 35-7 deficit in the third quarter.

I hate to admit it but I take these losses hard.  I know I shouldn’t take it so personally but that’s just how I am.  It’s never fun when your team loses.  Believe me, I have endured many painful losses from the teams I have supported over the years.  Winning is fun.  Losing is not.

After my team lost Tuesday night, I was physically and emotionally spent.  I was in a fog for a couple of days.  It’s silly, I know, but a person feels what they feel.  Since Tuesday, I have reflected on some of the most bitter loses from my sports teams.

  1. (Football) Super Bowl LI:  New England Patriots 34, Atlanta Falcons 28 – Up to this game I had been a Falcons’ fan most of my life.  The Falcons blew a 28-3 lead in this game.  I have not really recovered from this game and have not followed the Falcons much since then.   I can’t remember taking a loss as bad as this one.  This one hurt BAD.
  2. (Baseball) 1991 World Series:  Minnesota Twins defeated Atlanta Braves 4 games to 3 – Georgia had some serious Braves’ fever and we all endured the late nights and close games during Atlanta’s incredible run.  Game 7 of the 1991 World Series when Gene Larkin’s single in the 10th inning still remains etched into my pain.
  3. (Football) 2018 College Football National Championship Game:  Alabama Crimson Tide 26, Georgia Bulldogs 23 – This one is still difficult to talk about.  Georgia finally made it the championship game and led the game at halftime 13-0 but I think we all knew that it wasn’t over.  Alabama came back and won it in overtime.
  4. (Hockey) 2017 Stanley Cup Final:  Pittsburgh Penguins defeated Nashville Predators 4 games to 2 – The city of Nashville was rocking as the Predators’ treated us to an incredible run as the eighth seed in the Western Conference playoffs and took us on a ride to the Stanley Cup final.  Game six was a scoreless tie until Patric Hornqvist scored with 1:35 left in the game. Nashville challenged for goaltender interference, but the on-ice ruling was upheld. Carl Hagelin added an empty net goal with 15 seconds remaining.
  5. (Hockey) 2018 Western Conference Second Round:  Winnipeg Jets defeated Nashville Predators 4 games to 3 – The Predators had the best regular season in the NHL and was poised to bring the Cup to the Music City but were dispatched by the Winnipeg Jets.  My wife and I watched every game of the season.  I didn’t want to hear about winning the “President’s Trophy” or division championship.  It didn’t mean much without winning the Cup.  I have just now been able to get back into the Predators.
  6. (Football) 1999 Georgia High School Association State Football Semifinal:  Lowndes Vikings 31, Northside Warner Robins Eagles 28 – Although Northside was the rival of my team, we were all supporting them in their hopes to win their first state championship.  In the state semifinals which were played at the Georgia Dome, the Eagles jumped out and dominated Lowndes 28-3 in the first half.  The Vikings rallied and handed Northside a bitter defeat.  I think we were all in shock.
  7. (Football) November 10, 1989:  Northside Warner Robins 7, Warner Robins 6 – Warner Robins was ranked #1 in the nation when they played their cross-town rivals in the regular season finale.  Warner Robins scored late but missed the extra point which could have tied the game.  I was at this game and remember rolling around on the ground in disbelief when the extra point went awry.

I could give you three more but it’s too painful.  Let’s just leave it at these.  These are the ones which stick out in my mind and still stir up that bile in my stomach when I recall those memories.  These were truly the agonies of defeat for a sports fan.  Yes, these did hurt and it took me a few days to recover but life goes on and I always seem to find myself back to following them again (except for the Falcons, sorry but that just pushed me over the edge).

Of course none of these bitter losses really affected my life much.  Even when they have won championships the thrill and excitement doesn’t last either.  It usually isn’t long before it’s time for another season to begin and you’re right back where you were before.  I know people who are the fair-weathered fans who support their teams when they are winning.  I’m always amazed at how many Dallas Cowboys fans are around when they are winning and seemingly hard to find when they are having losing seasons.  No, I’m not going to be one to only jump on the bandwagons of winning teams.  That’s no fun either.

Tuesday night is added to my list of being disappointed by my teams but last night I was in Bridgestone Arena watching the Nashville Predators once again and was back into feeling it again.  The energy and excitement is addictive.  It’s hard to give up.  My wife reminded me that sports is a distraction that we need sometimes.  A break from work and daily routines of our lives.

Which fans have suffered the most seasons without a championship?

  1. Arizona Cardinals (70 seasons)
  2. Cleveland Indians (70 seasons)
  3. Sacramento Kings (67 seasons)
  4. Detroit Lions (60 seasons)
  5. Atlanta Hawks (60 seasons)
  6. Texas Rangers (57 seasons)
  7. Minnesota Vikings (56 seasons)
  8. Tennessee Titans (56 seasons)
  9. Los Angeles Chargers (54 seasons)
  10. Cleveland Browns (53 seasons)
  11. Buffalo Bills (52 seasons)
  12. Atlanta Falcons (52 seasons)
  13. Toronto Maple Leafs (51 seasons)
  14. St. Louis Blues (51 seasons)
  15. Phoenix Suns (50 seasons)
  16. Cincinnati Bengals (50 seasons)

There’s always next season…..

 

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.

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

Twas the Day of the State Championship

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Twas the day of the state championship game, when all through my house,

No one else was stirring but me in the house;

My Demon shirt was worn with excitement,

In hopes that my Sports Mic app would be on soon;

I settled in my chair and not in the bed,

While visions of touchdowns danced in my head,

My wife could hear every cheer and groan,

And that was just the pregame show on.

When out on the lawn I hear something annoying,

I wondered aloud what was happening.

I sprang to my window like a Burnett touchdown run,

Burst out of the door and sacked a strange man.

He went down like a hit from Bobby Kelly,

I suddenly realized he had a big belly.

I should have been flagged so lively and quick,

I knew in a moment I had tackled St. Nick.

I helped him up as he brushed himself off,

He picked up his bag and gave a big cough.

I apologized profusely and tried a hail mary,

Like a pass from Dylan into the secondary.

As I drew my head and was turning around,

Santa smiled as he looked at the ground.

He sprung to his sleigh like Tyler on a fade route,

And away he flew on his way out

He shouted “Merry Christmas to you and goooooo Demons!”

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 (9/6/17)

 

Demons_FG

Eli Mashburn kicks game winning 34-yard field goal as time expires to give Warner Robins 38-35 win over Peach County

 

Here’s how the top-ranked teams in each classification fared last week:

  • Class 7A – Grayson (2-0) defeated McEachern 12-7.  Ronald Thompkins had 111 yards rushing and scored a touchdown for the Rams.  Grayson jumped out to a 12-0 lead and held off the Indians.  Grayson will travel to Louisiana to tangle with top-ranked John Curtis (1-0) this week.
  • Class 6A – Tucker (2-1) lost to Colquitt County 35-21.  The Tigers led 14-7 at halftime but could not withstand the Packer’s passing attack in the second half.  Tucker is off this week.
  • Class 5A – Rome (2-0) beat Drew 56-0.  Rome had 430 yards of total offense in the first half as they built a 42-0 lead in the first half.  Rome will host Kell (0-2) this week.  Kell beat Rome 33-30 last year.
  • Class 4A – Cartersville (3-0) defeated Calhoun 58-6.  Trevor Lawrence passed for 317 yards and four touchdowns.  It was the second year in a row that the Purple Hurricanes have blown away the Yellow Jackets.   Cartersville will play at Westlake (1-1) this week.  Cartersville won last year’s meeting 31-0.
  • Class 3A – Greater Atlanta Christian (2-0) was off, they will host Valor Christian (2-0) from Colorado this week.  Valor Christian is the defending Colorado 5A state champions.
  • Class 2A – Benedictine (2-0) beat St. Pius 41-13.  Rico Powers had 103 yards in receptions and three touchdowns for the Cadets.  Benedictine will play at Southeast Bulloch (0-2) this week.  Benedictine won last year’s game, 33-6.
  • Class 1A (public) – Clinch County (2-1) lost to Brooks County 17-14.  The Panthers lead at one point 14-0 in this game but turnovers were too much to overcome.  Quarterback Charles McClelland was held to 38 yards rushing and 61 yards passing in the game.  Clinch County is off this week.
  • Class 1A (private) – Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy (3-0) beat Knoxville Catholic 55-10.  Khaleb Hood had a big game with a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and 78 yards on two punt returns.  The Chargers will travel to Hart County (0-2) this week.  ELCA won last year’s contest, 45-0.

Here’s how the teams on my personal watch list performed this week:

  • Warner Robins 38, Peach County 35
    • This was one of the best games I have listened to in a very long time.  Peach County jumped out to a 10-0 lead but the Demons came back behind Quarterback Dylan Fromm who was 30-of-40 for 315 yards and three touchdowns.  Warner Robins connected on a 34-yard game-winning field goal from Eli Mashburn as time expired.    Warner Robins is off this week.
  • Brooks County 17, Clinch County 14
    • Clinch County always has a battle with Brooks County and this was nothing new or unexpected.  The Panthers looked good early as they jumped out to a 14-0 lead but three fumbles kept the Trojans in the game.  Clinch County is off this week.
  • Villa Rica was off
    • The Wildcats are 2-0 for the first time since 2010.   Villa Rica will play East Paulding (0-2) this week.  East Paulding leads the all-time series 4-2.

Blowout of the week

  • Cedartown 63, Gilmer 0

Upsets of the week

  • Wayne County 23, Valdosta 13 – This one kinda flew under the radar since it was a Thursday night game.  Wayne County was a 29-point underdog but won for only the 8th time in the 34-year history of the series and first win since 1954.
  • SW DeKalb 28, Creekside 0 – The Panthers were underdogs in this one but came away with a convincing win against Creekside which appears to be in a rebuilding process after several winning seasons .
  • Tift County 27, Glynn Academy 7 – This one surprised me as Glynn Academy has come off deep postseason runs in the past few seasons.

Notable News of the week

  • Montgomery County was the last team to play their first game last week.  They opened with a 26-6 win over East Laurens.
  • Hephzibah ended a 15-game losing streak with a 39-7 win over Westside-Augusta.

Top Players In Georgia

  1. QB Trevor Lawrence (Cartersville)
  2. QB Michael Barrett (Lowndes)
  3. DL Adam Anderson (Rome)
  4. QB Justin Fields (Harrison)
  5. QB Bailey Fisher (Rabun County)

Playoffs?  We’re taking about playoff already?

Would you believe the computer has updated their playoff and champions for each classification after only week 3?  Here are the current state champion projections:

  • 7A – Grayson over Colquitt County
  • 6A – Tucker over Lee County
  • 5A – Buford over Carrollton
  • 4A – Cartersville over Woodward Academy
  • 3A – Greater Atlanta Christian over Cedar Grove
  • 2A – Benedictine over Fitzgerald
  • 1A (public) – Clinch County over Irwin County
  • 1A (private) – Eagle’s Landing Christian over Prince Avenue Christian