AAA blog: Once a regular pairing, 8-AAA final now a rare treat

Stephens County and Gainesville are only about 40 miles apart, and one would think the two teams would make for a natural rivalry. Recent history hasn’t worked out that way.

Up until 1988, it seemed they played each other all the time. Nine times between 1971 and 1988, they played twice in the same season, but they’ve squared off just once since then.

According to the Georgia High School Football Historians Association website, Gainesville and Stephens played each other twice in 1971, 1972, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1981, 1982, 1986 and 1988. Gainesville won the second meeting in six of those.

This year’s Region 8-AAA finalists last played in the state playoffs in 2002, when Gainesville took a 22-9 win on its way to the state semifinals.

“We’ve scrimmaged them a couple of times, but we were in different regions, and when we got in the same region this time, the only way were going to play was in this play-in game,” said Gainesville coach Bruce Miller.

It was happenstance that they didn’t play a regular-season cross-over game, according to Stephens County coach Travis Noland. “We drew names out of a hat,” he said.

The two north Georgi powers get a chance to make up for lost time Friday night. There are similarities. Both started with a season-opening loss and have reeled off eight straight wins since then. Both have red and black color schemes.

But the game will be a contrast in styles, featuring two of the most potent players in the class.

Behind quarterback Deshaun Watson (1,890 yards passing, 25 TDs, 5 INT), Gainesville throws it more than 20 times a game and gets big plays through the air. The Red Elephants, who have allowed just 59 points since their 49-0 loss to Buford in week 1, are gunning for their fourth straight region title.

“They’re very big and very fast,” said Stephens County coach Travis Noland. “We’re definitely going to have our hands full.”

Stephens County, which last won a region championship in 2007, has allowed the fewest points in the region and gets big offensive production from RB Chaz Thornton (1,785 yards rushing, 25 TDs), who exploded for 266 yards against North Hall last week. The Indians have only attempted 14 passes all year.

“They scare me to death,” said Miller. “They’ve got speed and talent. This ought to be a great games. Both teams are very equal.”

Coming Thursday: Region championship games galore …

15 comments Add your comment

Slinger

November 1st, 2011
12:27 am

I was there for their 2nd meeting back in ‘86 – The Red Elephants avenged a loss from a few weeks earlier. Both games were at The Reservation that year.

HS football fanatic

November 1st, 2011
12:41 am

The last game in ‘02 was a great match up. This one could be equally as good…

sportsnut

November 1st, 2011
2:14 pm

DREW IS COMING.. DREW IS COMING.. DREW IS COMING..

C-town

November 1st, 2011
6:45 pm

sportsnut give it a rest , no one is scared of Drew. They are coming off just being shut out, so im sure they feel like they have plenty to work on. Save the hype for the possible top-10 boys/ girls bball teams.

bigdaddy65

November 1st, 2011
9:47 pm

C-town where is the love stop with the hate. Grant it what you stated is true we was shut out but don’t state it as if we was blown out the score was 7-0. Don’t hate on sportsnut if he has love for his team. You can hitch a ride on the wagon with us we have a little space left but hurry 1st come 1st get on the wagon (LOL). DREW is up and coming but whether you on board or not they all will REMEMBER THE NIGHT THEY PLAYED THE TITANS!!!!!!!!

C-town

November 1st, 2011
11:36 pm

bigdaddy65: Actually Im an Eastside fan so we got history somewhat with Drew, sportsnut is a Lovejoy fan from what I gather from the other blogs. He just on Drew cause they from Clayton Co I guess. Not really hating, but everyone knows about Drew now. They have have had a great season and they have a ton of talent. Looks like they will finish 2nd and host Washington Co., probably the best 3 seed in the AAA playoffs. I dont think they win that game IMO. I think the 1st state playoff appearance against an established state power is too much for these guys. I could be wrong but good luck to Drew.

mhc tiger

November 2nd, 2011
7:38 am

147 years ago today (Nov 2, 1864) Gen U. Grant authorized the “March on Savannah.” Many in Lincolns cabinet including Lincoln himself didn’t believe Sherman’s unconventional methods would work; but, Grant believed and gave the order. Shortly thereafter on November 15, Sherman with 60K troops would begin the famous march!

Many don’t believe in Stocbridge either, yet I have given the executive order. The March has begun…

Go Bridge!

therunningcreek

November 2nd, 2011
12:03 pm

So mhc, you are the coach or the president? Either way, in order to reach your goal you must cross the creek. and the waters very deep. Remember I saw you play, your team can`t swim. Your guys will quit by half time. We thought about just having our bands battle, then maybe your team would have a small chance. You just don’t have enough anything: Heart, Desire, Will, Confidence or Spirit. and if thats not enough for you, then you definitely know you can`t match our talent. PERIOD.

ridingwiththeCreek

November 2nd, 2011
12:09 pm

So mhc, you are the coach or the president? Either way, in order to reach your goal you must cross the creek. and the waters very deep. Remember I saw you play, your team can`t swim. Your guys will quit by half time. We thought about just having our bands battle, then maybe your team would have a small chance. You just don’t have enough anything: Heart, Desire, Will, Confidence or Spirit. and if thats not enough for you, then you definitely know you can`t match our talent. PERIOD.

old carrollton fan

November 2nd, 2011
2:52 pm

Hey Im pulling for Drew.Carrollton (if they win round 1)plays the winner of Drew/WACO.I have seen the WACO program-I has rather take chances with the new or unknown.However I think WACO is only a light favorite in the game.

Trojan94

November 2nd, 2011
4:26 pm

@ old carrollton fan Because of the history between carrollton and washington co. i would rather play waco in round two because the’ve beaten us out of a couple of championships. I still think we would have won state had we been able to upset them back in “94″

because the’ve beaten us out of a couple of championships

Trojan94

November 2nd, 2011
4:28 pm

oops! sorry my bad!

old carrollton fan

November 2nd, 2011
7:27 pm

Trojan94: you are probably right,if you are going to advance in the playoffs youve got to win the tough ones.

cchswildcat86

November 2nd, 2011
11:18 pm

[...] 8: Stephens County (8-1) at Gainesville (8-1)It’s a classic air vs. ground matchup. Gainesville QB Deshaun Watson has 1,890 passing yards and 25 touchdowns against 5 interceptions. [...]