One more step: First title within reach for Gainesville, Ware County

Here are five questions that will be answered in the Georgia Dome next week in the Class AAAAA final:

Which team will win its first title? Either Gainesville or Ware County will take home its first state championship when they meet at 8:30 p.m. Friday. This is the third trip to the championship game for Ware County, which lost to Northside-Warner Robins in 2007 and Carrollton in 1961. Gainesville will be making its seventh trip to the final and its first since losing to Peach County 13-12 in 2009. Neither coach – Ware County’s Ed Dudley nor Gainesville’s Bruce Miller – has ever won a state championship.

Can anyone stop Deshaun Watson? Gainesville’s quarterback continues to put up staggering numbers. He surpassed 5,000 combined yards passing and rushing for the season in a 28-14 victory over Whitewater on Friday with 227 yards passing and 94 rushing, according to the Gainesville Times. Those numbers increase his season totals to 3,707 yards passing and 1,356 passing, and he has had a hand in 69 touchdowns. Gainesville is averaging 45.1 points per game for the season and 48.5 in the playoffs.

Will Zach Stanford be watching? Stanford, who was Metter’s quarterback from 2001-2004, holds the state record for career passing yards with 9,062. But not for long. Watson has 9,046 (unofficially) after Gainesville’s victory over Whitewater and needs just 17 to break the record. And if he doesn’t get the record in the championship game – Watson is averaging 265 yards per game this season – he surely will put it pretty far out of reach next year in his senior season.

Can Ware County’s defense do it one more time? If anyone can slow down Gainesville’s offense, it might be Ware County. The Gators’ defense ranks among the state’s best, allowing an average of 8.6 points per game with five shutouts. Ware County limited Stephenson to 63 yards of total offense in a 14-0 victory in the quarterfinals, then held Northside to a season low in points in a 24-17 overtime victory in the semifinals on Friday. Richmond Hill’s 24 points were the most scored against the Gators this season.

Will Ware County get some respect? Ware County has been one of the most under-the-radar region champions in AAAAA this season. The Gators have won 13 consecutive games since a season-opening loss to AAAAAA Coffee but haven’t been ranked higher than No. 6. In fact, Ware County has been ranked higher than fifth for only two weeks week since losing in the state final to Northside in 2007 and finishing No. 2 that year. The Gators have reached at least the second round of the playoffs every year since 2007.

63 comments Add your comment

jokurone class of 65' Red Elephants

December 8th, 2012
10:06 am

How about more kudos for the mighty Red Elephants? I watched GHS play Waycross in 1960 state AA championship at City Park we lost 49-0 52 years later we are finish the drill! Go Big Red

jvillebil

December 8th, 2012
10:15 am

No one gave Ware a chance against NSWR and the 17 points they got was because Ware went into a prevent defense as the ball was on NSWR 10 yard line with 3 minutes to go down 17-7. I think NSWR was stunned at how quick and fast the Ware team was. Tobler is an amazing athete and when NSWR shocked everone with that amazing comeback to send it into overtime, the life got sucked out of the stadium for the Ware fans and Tobler stepped up and put the team on his back. It should be a great game as Gainesville is high powered and Ware is quick an agile on defense.

B-Town

December 8th, 2012
10:26 am

pulling for North GA……. come om Gville

Coffee HS fans

December 8th, 2012
10:34 am

It was a great game for both teams. Ware has great coach, players and fans that never gave up…Pulling for Gators to win it all.

Camden74

December 8th, 2012
10:40 am

Guess Stephenson and NSWR should have stayed in the highest classification huh…….. :-)

My dad is a tv repairman. I can fix it.

December 8th, 2012
11:49 am

Classic matchup: high octane no huddle offense against a nasty hard nosed defense. Do many ware players play both ways? Dont sleep on the gville D, very quick and opportunistic. Like bart scott said “cant wait!”.

chilidawg

December 8th, 2012
11:51 am

Should be a great game. I hope it doesn’t come down to a field goal for the elephants because Coach Miller doesn’t know what a field goal is.

Waycross Alum

December 8th, 2012
11:53 am

Waycross kicked the crap out of Gainesville in 1960, and Waycross is going to kick the crap out of them AGAIN in 2012! Gainesville stinks — in football and literally!

Old Golden Lion

December 8th, 2012
12:18 pm

@Red elephant 65 guess you missed the 68 championship vs St Pius. Gainsville didn’t even get a first down, not even in warm-ups. It was played in a driving rain storm. Heck the lightning was going but they never stopped that game. Today everyone would of been sued. Just a little friendly needeling going on here I know all about the Red Elephants firepower. Glad to play you in those scrimmage games a few years back.
The game will be played indoors thats good because I see Atlanta is getting rain all week. This is a great weekend for Ga High school good luck to everyone. PS Red Elephants beWare you are playing against another St. Pius guy.

Northside Dawg

December 8th, 2012
12:21 pm

Congrats to Ware County for putting the kibosh on Northside’s spread option. Go get’em Gainesville.

SRS

December 8th, 2012
12:24 pm

I am an avid Northside of Warner Robins fan/graduate and watched the game on the WCHS web last night. I would just like to say the announcers were some of the best I have ever heard. They gave NHS such praise during the entire game. Thanks WCHS and I wish you well in the championship game.

57Cat

December 8th, 2012
12:42 pm

I agree, SRS. Thats the first time I’ve heard the Ware announcers and they may be better than Colquitt’s.

Ware Class of 92

December 8th, 2012
1:04 pm

I have nothing but respect for the players and fans of NSWR sure hope my gator’s can keep it going and give Gainesville a run for their money.Last night was one of the best games i have seen in really long time if you were not there you missed a heck of a game.

Dum-Bass

December 8th, 2012
1:36 pm

Agree on the Ware Co announcers, they were pretty good, but they got “giddy” and were talking about making motel reservations in Atlanta with about 4 mins. to go. Almost had egg on their faces. They are right up there with the Colquitt Co. guys on their knowledge and expertise about HS football. BTW, if that game had been in Warner Robins NS would have won it easily. Never should have been played in Waycross. As an opponent of the coin toss, it has to be dumped. Regular season record should mean something. A team who is undefeated should never have to travel to an opponent’s park who has one loss. Ware Co. should consider themselves very “lucky”!

TXDawg3

December 8th, 2012
1:38 pm

Just because a team from South GA doesn’t get media coverage doesn’t mean they aren’t a good football team (if that we’re true, the SEC would have never grown to be the BEST in college football in the country…it would still be the media darlings such as USC, ND, Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, etc)

…just because a team loses early in the season doesn’t mean they aren’t a good football team (you might want to refer to UGA this season; & too many others to list here)

…what happened 50 years ago will have absolutely nothing to do with the upcoming state championship game

The game will be played by a team with no big media coverage from South GA that has been shown little respect for their stellar defense and tenacity to fight as a team verses a team that should win simply because the media knows and promotes them as the latest, greatest team to come out of the metro Atlanta area with some goof athletes including a record setting quarterback. If we listened to the inference of media writers, the trophy should already be awarded and the formality of the game would simply be a early Christmas gift for the future memory of the boys that are surrounded by slash pines, live oak trees and prehistoric animals that continue to reside in the Okeefenokee Swamp.

The winner of the game will be the one that has fought the hardest, made the least amount of turnovers, played together as a team and who has the most points when the clock winds down to zero in the fourth quarter.

Please don’t misunderstand my point…the media is important…however, it’s purpose is to report, and even provide human interest perspectives, not to generate presuppositional perspectives that disrespect a team of young developing men that just happen to live in a more agrarian area of the state.

TXDawg3

December 8th, 2012
1:45 pm

Correction: paragraph 4, line 5, should read “good” athletes.

jvillebil

December 8th, 2012
2:15 pm

I’m not sure what team Dum-Bass was watching or listening to, but it wouldn’t have matter, where NSWR & Ware played last night. Ware dominated the game except for the last 3 minutes when they went into their prevent. Get over the fact that there is a coin toss. You strap it up and play it on the field. Oh and your stupid comment about Ware county being Lucky, there was no luck involved my friend just a good ole South Georgia Butt Whippin!!!!!!!!!

My dad is a tv repairman. I can fix it.

December 8th, 2012
2:36 pm

Big red a metro atl school? Hardly. Gainesville is a solid 55 miles away from atl. Really duznt matter. Dumass quit yo bitchin bout the darn coin flip! Kinda wudda liked to play the eagles just to have been the ones to quiet all the obnoxious nswr posters – montano – where ya at? Ware took care of the eagles. Now its gator stompin time!

eaglenationrising

December 8th, 2012
3:27 pm

The Gators simply brought it. Those young men deserve praise and all the well-wishes going into the State Championship. I did not hear the announcers, but I am very proud of our Northside Eagles (again). 13-1 may bring criticism on this board and I know that people in Warner Robins have lost a sense of reality about Northside football.

However, this has got to be one of my favorite teams to ever play at Northside. They clearly have the heart of a champion. Tucker outplayed us and had us pinned against the wall. These Eagles (players and coaches) kept fighting when the fanbase and our announcers (who should be ashamed of themselves for their commentating during the Tucker game) gave up. Ware County outplayed us…outclassed us. It is as simple as that. Down 7-17 with 30 second is usually time for the Fat Lady to get her stuff and go home…she should have already sang. These Eagles did not hear her voice and continued to fight. Ware deserved the win. Ware got the win. At the end of the day, they were better than us. I’ll take a 13 win season on any year. Congratulations Northside. Good luck Ware County and Gainesville.

Rev Al

December 8th, 2012
3:45 pm

Should be a very good match up. How will Ware adjust to playing on the road for the first time in the playoffs? How will Gainesville handle the top rated defense?

Weasel

December 8th, 2012
4:03 pm

Gainesville and Waycross (years before the county merger) met for the state title in the early 60s. Waycross dominated that game 49-0. In those days, Waycross played the poor step child to Valdosta. After both won their respective classifications, Waycross suggested another game for charity. Valdosta refrained. Nobody ever accused their coach Bazemore of stupidity. It was a “no win” for the school and he knew it.

A few years later, before consolidation, Ware County played for a state title in Waycross, only to lose in a high scoring affair. I look forward to next week’s game!

jimmythegem

December 8th, 2012
4:16 pm

I was at that game in 1960, Waycross had a player, I think (?) Jimmy Guy if memory serves me correctly. He stood out as a giant beside all other players on either team. Gainesville had dominated most teams all season but was brutally beaten by Waycross that year.

Longhorn nation

December 8th, 2012
5:55 pm

Well well well yes it will be a great game but unless WATSON dose not show up to play RED ELEPHANT by 21 points easy

TXDawg3

December 8th, 2012
7:09 pm

Since Ware County has only allowed 8.6 points per game, five shutouts and only allowed 24 points in one game, it would be a significant accomplishment for Gainesville to score 21 points, much less win by 21 points. If they were to score 21 points (apart from an overtime game score), they would stand a significant chance of winning the game, provided, of course, that Ware County doesn’t score at least one more point than their best efforts.

The game still has to be played on the field…with all respect due to Northside, ask Northside…you might remember that all the media prognosticators predicted that they would soundly whip the Gators on their home field by a minimum of fourteen points. The danger in believing the press lies in overconfidence and/or lack of respect for your opponent; both of which will diminish your ability to play the game at your best. Gentlemen, the game will be played Friday night…and that is where the two championship football teams will give their all to prove who is the 2012 state champion.

blu eagle

December 8th, 2012
7:12 pm

Gville will come against a real defense in ware next weekend we will see. Again congrats to ware in a great win and exciting football game to NSWR. Great season NSWR we just want too much sometime, perfection is hard to come by.

jvillebil

December 8th, 2012
8:31 pm

Thanks for all the comments Eagle Nation supporters. You have a never say die team. I was in the stands in 2007 and again last night and couldn’t believe what I saw at the end of regulation. But there is something different about this team. Everyone talks about Ware losing to Coffee, but we had 3 turnovers in the 4th Qt and pretty much outplayed them up to then. Coffee walked on Whitewater 41-3 at 12-2 team. Lost to Burke (11-2 team) in a close game, lost to Lowndes by 2 and played Camden tough for 3 quarters but they had a lot of injured players during the season. That loss was a wake up call for Ware and they are hitting on all 8 cylinders as is Gainesville. It should be a great game.

itsonlywrite

December 8th, 2012
8:48 pm

well if this game has ties to “Waycross” and “St. Pius” then we can avenge all that next Friday by winning the championship… LETS GO BIG RED!!!

#ELEPHANTNATION

Elephant fan

December 8th, 2012
9:36 pm

Go Red Elephants — Finish the Drill!!

Jurrell Howell

December 8th, 2012
10:57 pm

GOOOOD luck Ware county!!! TeamRICHMONDHILLHIGH……:.

fifener pod

December 8th, 2012
11:37 pm

Gainesville High School has been a consistant play off contender for many yrs.Hasn’t won a state crown in the GHSA era,But your looking at one of the greatest high school QB this state has ever seen.Nobody has stopped him yet, so what’s up, GO BIG RED

wolfbait67

December 9th, 2012
9:06 am

for all the fans up and down the Southern Railway line…………..First stop Norcross, then Buford, then on to Gainesville,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,dropping off the Trophies as they head North……………..just a few miles of track btn these fine schools….BYW…..at Gaivesville, they will make a sharp right right on the old spur and head to Jefferson to deliver theirs…….

Remember the days of Lothridge/Martin days at the home of the Red Elephants,,,,,,,,,,,,,those were good years too before they went to the technical school on North Ave.

Kmilton

December 9th, 2012
12:13 pm

Well, well my mighty gators prove the bloggers wrong, pull out another upset, it seem the gators r the only region champs not getting any respect gators will have to get it this Friday at 8:30p.m. That was a great high school game against Warner robins. They have nothing to hang their heads down for. Gators just wanted it more. And the gator defense played great (bend but not break)

Longhorn nation

December 9th, 2012
2:00 pm

DAWG 3 you will see a johnny football this sat you may have the defense but he has a compleat team just hope your offense can hold on to the ball other wise it be a long day for WARE county

TXDawg3

December 9th, 2012
2:36 pm

Since I am from Texas & have worn the red & black in Athens over 30 yrs ago, in addition to having done graduate work while residing in the Bryan/College Station area, I think that I might be qualified to remind you that the game will be won & lost on the field of play Friday night. It will not be influenced by attributing a superficial greatness to someone, that no doubt, is a very good high school football player…it’s probably a little premature to project greatness to someone that has not earned it. If such grandiose claims had any truth, logic would dictate that Ware County shouldn’t bother to dress out for the contest. The game still has to be played and I look forward to seeing a great game that so many of us dreamed about while boys, yet very few have had the privilege to participate.

Longhorn nation

December 9th, 2012
5:00 pm

Congrats DAWG 3 seems the game has to be played to have a winner but greatness always is good to have on your side I no old ED DUDLEY will have ware county ready to go. Good luck to both teams.

Gator 1961

December 9th, 2012
5:32 pm

Best of Luck Gators against G-ville..both very good teams. You have make us proud… keep it going.

AP

December 9th, 2012
7:04 pm

Enter your comments here

AP

December 9th, 2012
7:07 pm

Gainesville is very good, but without exceptional qb play, seem to be a fairly normal team. If you contain Watson, and put a little pressure on him, as WW did in the 2nd half, they are very beatable. Ware Co. gets it done in a close one!

Clayco teams rep

December 9th, 2012
7:49 pm

I with lovejoy all day but I can’t wait to see this ware county defense especially after they beat Northside and Stephenson wow they have to be the truth

Rev Al

December 9th, 2012
8:56 pm

@@@AP……”Gainesville is very good, but without exceptional qb play, seem to be a fairly normal team”…….Really?? Without the state’s soon to be leader in passing they are fairly normal?? The problem is, he is the QB, and he does play for Gainesville. Take away any truly exceptional player on a team and usually that team isn’t as good. Great insight…..NOT!!

itsonlywrite

December 9th, 2012
9:15 pm

@wolfbait67 That sure would be nice… all the schools not far off from each other gettin trophies!!!

#ELEPHANTNATION

itsonlywrite

December 9th, 2012
9:19 pm

@AP that may be true, but what you have to consider is that not do we have a GREAT quarterback, but probably the best WR core in the state as well… b/c not only does the QB have to throw a good ball, but the WRs have to make the catch. And alot of high school teams have one or the other or they only have 1 good WR. Gville has at least 7 interchangeable WRs not to mention the runningbacks can catch as well…

Longhorn nation

December 9th, 2012
10:08 pm

First of all you ant going to stop WATSON he going to get his yards with his feet or arm the only way any team beat GAINESVILLE is keep their offense of the field ball control win this game both teams are good or they wood not be in the championship

DeeDawg

December 9th, 2012
10:46 pm

I hope Ware Co wins it all. They beat my team (Stephenson) fair and square, then beat #1 NSWR. You have to tip your hat and wish them success the in the final against Gainesville. Go Gators!

Gage Turner

December 10th, 2012
12:07 am

If it were to come down to a field goal I’ll be ready.

Elephant Man

December 10th, 2012
2:44 am

Great Offense vs Great Defense, I can’t wait and I’m sure the dome will be rockin around 8:30. This is going to be a special night for my Red Elephants, time to finish the drill boys. I just hope it comes down to hard fought play on the field and not some questionable call by an official. Don’t know much about Ware County other than the fact that they are one of the 2 best teams in the state in 5A football and they play traditional South GA smashmouth football. Well all I can say is we will all find out how great Mr. Watson and the Gainesville offense is or we will find out how great the Ware County Defense is. This game will be decided late in the 4th, I’m going to say….
Gainesville 27
Ware Co. 21

Elephant Man

December 10th, 2012
2:51 am

Oh and I don’t think any of these young men care about a couple of games that were played 40-50 years ago. Neither school has won it all, that will all change in a few days. One of these great teams will forever be remembered as the 1st Championship team for their school, the other will be left chasing their dream.

bigmanharris

December 10th, 2012
5:49 am

Lol @ beating Stephenson being an accomplishment…..thats what they do in the playoffs. Such a disappointing program playoff wise. I respect the program for what it does for the kids and their regular season success tho.

BigDaddy

December 10th, 2012
8:05 am

Good Luck to Ed Dudley. A great coach and better man. He coached my sons at Walton and I will be forever thankful.

chilidawg

December 10th, 2012
8:13 am

As they say, “defense wins championships.” For Big Red to win their first title the offense will have to execute. It all comes down to the O-line. Eat your Wheaties, boys. Looking forward to a tough, clean, well-fought game and I wish everyone safe travels this weekend.