Questions to mull about the AAAA final

Ridgeland defensive back Vonn Bell is one of two Super 11 players still playing — Dooly County’s Montravius Adams is the other — and he and his teammates get the task of defending the state’s most balanced offense. Bell defending against Sandy Creek’s Demarre Kitt could be one of the best individual matchups of the state finals.

Here are a handful of questions to consider leading up to the Class AAAA state championship between 13-1 Ridgeland and 14-0 Sandy Creek:

Which poison will Ridgeland pick? Stopping the Sandy Creek running game or stopping Sandy Creek passing game. The Patriots sport a 2,000-yard passer in quarterback Cole Garvin, who completed 12 of 16 passes for 207 yards and a touchdown Friday night against Monroe Area. They also have a 1,000-yard receiver (Demarre Kitt) and two 1,000-yard running backs (Eric Swinney and Delvin Weems). All that has translated to a team that averages 43.9 points per game.

How will Sandy Creek’s defense fare against Darrell Bridges and Vonn Bell? Ridgeland runs the ball. And then they run it some more. Bridges, the fullback in the Panthers’ wing-T scheme, has nearly 2,300 rushing yards and has scored 39 touchdowns. Bell, who lines up as a halfback, has over 1,000 rushing. Bridges also brings an x-factor – a former quarterback, he can throw. Friday night against Marist, he had more than 100 yards passing on halfback passes. Ridgeland averages 42.1 points per game. On the other hand, Sandy Creek held Monroe Area to 117 total yards Friday night, and the best wing-T team they’ve faced — Carrollton — managed just over 100 yards.

Will it be a shootout or a defensive struggle? The offensive numbers for both teams point toward shootout. Ridgeland had scored 35 points or more in every game until Friday night. A similar scenario was in play for the 2010 AAA final, when high-octane Sandy Creek faced high-octane Carrollton, but it turned into a defensive slugfest, which Sandy Creek won 14-7.

How will Ridgeland respond to the spotlight? Sandy Creek has been here before. The Patriots are going for their third state title in four years and have won 55 of 57 games in that time. While this year marked the seventh straight playoff appearance for Ridgeland, the Panthers will be in a completely new environment in the Georgia Dome.

How will the kickers do? Both Sandy Creek’s Mitchell McMillin and Ridgeland’s Evan Courtney are solid, but the only pressure kick either has attempted this season was Courtney’s last extra point Friday night that provided the margin in a 28-27 win over Marist.

99 comments Add your comment

Dudeburger

December 8th, 2012
9:29 am

Good luck to Ridgeland. They only beat Marist by a “foot.”

Tom

December 8th, 2012
1:31 pm

Too bad the ajc won’t report on the real issue here… the recruiting by Sandy Creek. But, just like with Milton, eventually they will get caught. And no, I am not a rival fan. And yes, I have FIRSTHAND knowledge that this has happened multiply times and continues to go on.

Patriots

December 8th, 2012
1:32 pm

Let’s go Creek!! We need to bring home State Title #3!!!

First Down "Creeeekkk"

December 8th, 2012
2:18 pm

@Tom: Creek won the title in 2009 and 2010 and was ranked #1 most of 2011. If we were cheating (or recruiting), other coaches in Fayette County (Creek is the only school in Fayette to win a state football title and go undefeated in a season to the envy of the bigger schools in the county) and elsewhere would have blown the whsitle. If you have proof, turn us in! Otherwise, go find some cheese to go with that “whine”!!

Dade County

December 8th, 2012
2:19 pm

Just because Ridgeland isn’t in the Atlanta area, doesn’t mean they aren’t good. They’re only loss was to Calhoun and they could have won that game.

Patriot Power

December 8th, 2012
2:45 pm

Recruiting . . . sigh . . . seriously, that old canard? If you have FIRSTHAND knowledge, why are you merely posting it in an AJC blog? Because it will add some gravitas to your post? Why are you not reporting it to the GHSA? Oh, don’t tantalize us with the generic charge of recruiting, please be specific and name names.

That being said, I look forward to a great game with Ridgeland (who ironically is also accused of recruiting). They will bring a big crowd to the Dome, and we will bring the jugs. Together we should rock that place out!

First Down "Creeeekkk"

December 8th, 2012
3:56 pm

@Patirot Power: You and I agree completely on the recruiting accusation – if there is proof, formal complaints need to be filed with the GHSA and they will investigate. Otherwise, the accusations and speculation without proof is unfair to the efforts and preparation by Creeks players and coaches. And that’s too bad for those who have an issue with SC’s success!

Catch you after the game at the Dome Saturday night Patriot Power! Should be a good one. Check out Ridgeland on line. They have a very good offense and they run that GT spread option. Creek will have to be disciplined on D.

David Purdum

December 8th, 2012
4:24 pm

Tom: I’m a high school writer for the AJC, who reported on the Milton investigations. Please email me at your convenience. dpurdum@ajc.com

YELLERJACKETZ1

December 8th, 2012
5:32 pm

GO RIDGELAND FROM YOUR FRIENDS AT CALHOUN I PLAN ON BEING ON YOUR SIDELINES AFTER THE CALHOUN GAME.HEY TOM YOU AND OTHER PEOPLE LIKE YOU NEED TO TAKE ALL OF THAT TRASH-TALK SOMEWHERE ELSE,THESE BLOGS ARE SUPPOSED TO BE ABOUT H.S. SPORTS NOT A BUNCH OF WANNA -BE WHISTE-BLOWERS ! GET A LIFE !!!GOOD LUCK TO THE CREEK ALSO AND ALL OF THE TEAMS IN THE CHAMPIONSHIPS

Patriot Power

December 8th, 2012
5:51 pm

Ridgeland fans! We want you to empty out Rossville next Saturday. We will empty out Tyrone and part of Fayetteville and Peachtree City. Let’s pack the Dome and have the most raucous crowd ever.

Stinger63

December 8th, 2012
6:10 pm

Just because a kid transfers into a different school district doesn’t automatically mean he was recruited. Kids all over the state transfer for one reason or another.

I read an article early in the season that listed how many kids (that are atheletes) had transfered into new school districts, may have been here on the AJC, but can’t remember. It happens everywhere, and not just at Calhoun, Ridgeland, Sandy Creek, Buford, etc.

I agree with the others; if you have proof of wrong-doing, report it to GHSA. Then we can all read about it when it’s reported as FACTS, and not just hear-say.

Woodpecker

December 8th, 2012
9:59 pm

Stop hating on the Creek. Ridgeland you’re up next.

Woodpecker

December 8th, 2012
10:10 pm

Sandy Creek will win by a least 3 touchdowns.

Woodpecker

December 8th, 2012
10:31 pm

Just finished watching the Marist-Ridgeland game. Ridgeland have a very good offense, but it will never work against Sandy Creek’s defense. Sandy Creek defensive line is to strong for the run and their linebackers and defensive backs are very fast against the run. A halfback pass will never have a chance to develop against this defense.

DPANTHERS

December 8th, 2012
11:03 pm

LET’S GO RIDGELAND PANTHERS!!!!!!!!!!!!! Show Sandy Creek and the rest of the State that your not a push over team. GO PANTHERS!!!!!!!!!!!!

Patriot Power

December 8th, 2012
11:07 pm

Ridgeland is no pushover. The have a big OL and couple of awesome running backs. You don’t get to the finals without being good. Their only loss was to Calhoun, the best team in AA. Defense will definitely need to be on point.

PantherMom

December 9th, 2012
5:22 am

One would think that a lot of you guys were not real Fans of Football. This is the Post Season, The Playoffs, The Championship where all stats, history and the predictions go out the window! This is like a new season in the same season! You guys know what Im trying to say! Good Luck to Ridgeland and Sandy Creek. May the Best Team Win in the Ga Dome, Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012! If thats Ridgeland I will probably Faint, but if not I will hope that the Panther Nation will walk out of there as Proud of our team as I will be! Anywho, see you all in the Dome! Go Panthers!!!!!

Trojan94

December 9th, 2012
6:48 am

People need to stop all this recruiting talk, the only talk these teams and there fans need to be talking about is winning a state championship all that other talk is coming from people who follow crappy teams or who teams are out the playoffs and they are still sour about it. Good luck to both teams and i’ll see yall at the dome.

Clarence Voyant

December 9th, 2012
7:51 am

At least we don’t have to worry about the lack of seating at this game!

That Dude Says...

December 9th, 2012
8:46 am

People who say Sandy Creek recruit are flat out IGNORANT. Sandy Creek has always had talent ever since the doors opened. The first graduating class at SCHS was in 1994. The 1997 class had AJC Super 11 pick Jabari Holloway. Holloway went on to play at Notre Dame and eventually for a little bit with the Patriots and Texans. The big difference between now and then is Sandy Creek has built a program and has GREAT coaching.

First Down Creek!!!!

December 9th, 2012
10:10 am

I’m so happy to see that Ridgeland is a run oriented team. They will have very little success trying to run against Sandy Creek. Vonn Bell checking Kitt may be fun to see, but we have several very good wideouts. We are also the fastest team on both sides of the ball that Ridgeland will ever face.
44-7 Sandy Creek.

Patriot Power

December 9th, 2012
12:08 pm

No predictions from me. Anything can happen in one game. We have to bring our A-game.

Jacketaxe

December 9th, 2012
4:32 pm

I agree Ridgeland could have beat Calhoun, but as it turned out Calhoun had out scored them when the game ended,but they could have won…I guess Dade as something there.

Good luck Ridgeland shock the world.

Monroe's First Redcoat

December 9th, 2012
8:35 pm

Belated congratulations to Sandy Creek in downing my Hurricanes. lot of underclassmen at Monroe, so keep ‘em buckled tight, boys. We’ll be back….

good luck at the Dome…

FCFB

December 10th, 2012
9:01 am

LOOKING FOWARD TO A VERY WELL PLAYED GAME FROM BOTH TEAMS…SHOULD BE FUN…GOOD LUCK TO BOTH TEAMS. CANT WAIT.

buzz

December 10th, 2012
10:12 am

@Tom….your post reeks of jealousy. You sound like you are 5 years old. This is is the problem with our society. Everyone always has an excuse. No one ever wants to step up, admit they were beat and figure out a way to win themselves. Look at Calhoun. They had to figure out a way to beat one of the best programs in Georgia in Buford. It took four tries, but had they made excuses after the first try when they got waxed, they never would have beat Buford last year.

As someone else said, it is not surprising that Ridgeland, Carrollton, Buford, Gainesville, Calhoun, Sandy Creek and others are accused of recruiting. They have one thing in common: they win and win alot. Tom, whatever school you are at doesn’t and you want to make excuses.

I will eat my words if you cough up some details, names, etc. Until then, be sure to keep the tissues handy for all of your crying.

PANTHERMOM56

December 10th, 2012
11:08 am

We are so excited as a Ridgeland family and community to be making our first appearance at the Dome. The Calhoun game was a nailbiter all the way to the end! The team with the ball last won! However, we’ll be there supporting the Yellow Jackets, hope ya’ll will stick around to support the Panthers. It’s going to be a great game!

Sappdog

December 10th, 2012
11:52 am

Let me first say that I don’t have a dog in the fight. Creek will win and you can bet on it. Everyone is bragging about their offense and deservidly so. Defense wins championships and they have a great one. They will stop the Wing T with no problem. Ridgeland will have a have a great passing game to keep it close. And about the recruiting thing, if a program is successful like Creek, Ridgland or Carrollton then naturally good football players want to go there along with their parents. If I had a kid that has a promising College carrier and there was a chance to be on a good team that would get him noticed more, I would relocate for him. It is a no brainer.

hornblowermg

December 10th, 2012
12:33 pm

football is simply blocking, tackling, and the disciplined execution of both. the teams from this part of the state used to handle the atlanta bunch regularly, and the team that executes the best friday night will be state champions. i promise you folks that Ridgeland will be well-rehearsed, and the team will perform in the great traditions of Chattanooga Valley and Rossville. see you there.

Stinger63

December 10th, 2012
12:57 pm

@ Panther Fan and PantherMom56; Thanks for the support, and you can bet there will be plenty of Calhoun Fans stay and support Ridgeland. I’m looking forward to seeing that high-octane Ridgeland Offense again. As others have mentioned, the Ridgeland/Calhoun game was a knock-down, drag-out slugfest. Either team could have won that game. I was most impressed how neither team quit, and kept coming back at each other till the end. Looking back at that game, we can see how much each team benefited from being in that type of game so early in the season.

UGA

December 10th, 2012
1:05 pm

Trust me ridgeland hasnt seen anything close to sandycreek. Sandycreeks advantage outside of bieng well coached and talented. Is that they played carrollton who runs the same offense probably with more talent. Marist had to beat carrollton in 5 overtimes at home. Sandycreek is familiar with the wing -t. Ridgeland need to worry bout stopping Sandycreek. P.S CREEK U BETTER WIN IT THIS YEAR. CAUSE YALL GOTTA TO COME TO GRISHAM STADIUM IN CARROLLTON GA. NEXT YEAR. AND THEM TROJANS BRINGING EVERYBODY BACK!!!

UGA

December 10th, 2012
1:07 pm

OH YEAH. CALHOUN GOT LUCKY AND BEAT CARROLLTON ON A MUFFED KICKOFF WITH 2MINS LEFT. SANDY CREEK 31 RIDGELAND 7

1bighammer

December 10th, 2012
1:38 pm

Congrats to my Patriots and to the Panthers from Ridgeland! You’re the last two standing and may the best team win! Of course I think it will be my Sandy Creek Patriots, your opinion may differ. Lets not let the comments of this week fall below the belt and into the realm of some weeks past. Both Sandy Creek and Ridgeland have accomplished great things and both DESERVE to be where we are now. The fans needn’t cheapen the experience by downgrading each other. Lets keep it civil and praise our young men and coaches for what they have accomplished.

Good Luck to all and GO CREEEEEEEEEEEK!

PANTHERMOM56

December 10th, 2012
1:42 pm

Sounds like UGA is a gilted Carrollton fan? Maybe next year? Talk is cheap, it’s what happens on the field that counts! The Panthers have been the underdogs throughout the playoffs, but guess what? We’re going to the DOME!!

GTVET

December 10th, 2012
2:02 pm

Well…I guess Ridgeland should just stay home.Seems all these football wizards know exactly what’s going to happen.Bet the farm.NO WAY Panthers win.Geeze……..Ridgeland ,I wouldn’t worry to much with all this CREEK stuff.I know Sandy Creek is a very good football team,but so is Ridgeland and it will be a very good and in my opinion a pretty close game.I don’t care who Ridgeland plays,No one is going to shut there offense down.Ain’t gonna happen….BUT while were just guessing outcomes of games that we don’t really know…Ridgeland 28……….Sandy Creek 24………………….Calhoun 38………Jefferson 17……….GO JACKETS!!!!!!!!!………….Sic um Panthers,Calhoun area has your back…..

GTVET

December 10th, 2012
2:06 pm

@ uga…….Yea Calhoun football is all about luck…..Good Lord.

Walker

December 10th, 2012
2:18 pm

Hope these guys are all Bulldogs so we can continue toread about them in the future. When they go out of State we don’t get to follow their play and growth as players. Go Dawgs

buzz

December 10th, 2012
2:45 pm

@UGA….you are right, Carrollton does have a ton coming back but so does the Creek. Check our roster. Blame losing the Calhoun game all you want on a kick or whatever but being as good as you guys thought you were, a AA school shoudl not have been able to hang with you, period. Not offense to Calhoun because I cheer for those guys EVERY week!

@GTVET….you might want to rethink your bit about no one being able to shut down the Ridgeland offense. SC defense has heard this story all season long. Yet every offense has struggled, even Burke Co. Come Saturday at 8:30 pm, don’t say I didn’t warn you when Ridgeland squeaks out 7-10 points.

GTVET

December 10th, 2012
2:45 pm

LOL well I wouldnt go that far Walker..BUT if they aren’t Jackets at the next level I would rather they play ball somewhere in Georgia ,even uga,than go out of state.Georgia loses wayyyyy too many kids in all sports to out of state schools.HUGE problem for GT,UGA and others……Speaking of the others,Ga.Southern did a heck of a job getting back into and then beating Old Diminion last. Sat.Go GSU

GTVET

December 10th, 2012
2:50 pm

I hear ya buzz,and I’ve also heard throughout the playoffs of how Ridgeland would be shut down.Hasn’t happened yet,but as they say..You never know….either way,GO Calhoun!!!!!!!!!!!

buzz

December 10th, 2012
3:27 pm

@GTVET….at least we can agree on wanting Calhount to win!

GTVET

December 10th, 2012
3:35 pm

Enter your comments here

GTVET

December 10th, 2012
3:36 pm

@ buzz…Roger that….got my learning there many years ago…….

Simple

December 10th, 2012
3:36 pm

Let me put it in terms that you carpet making fans can understand…….Sandy Creek will beat Ridgeland like a rented mule!!!

SGT CHRIS

December 10th, 2012
3:52 pm

One reason I THINK Sandy Creek will win, is because I’m sure Bell isnt the only TWO WAY player for Ridgeland. I think the Creek will simply wear down Ridgeland.

Simple

December 10th, 2012
3:53 pm

Speaking of mule’s……..was Calhoun able to acquire a new mule or were both the Driver’s Ed and Sex Ed classes cancelled until said mule is replaced?

First Down Creek!!!!

December 10th, 2012
4:03 pm

I have no bad feelings about Ridgeland. I believe they have had a great season and exceeded all expectations, but I don’t see where they have played a team as good as Sandy Creek. While it’s true that anything can possibly go wrong during the course of a game, it would be a stretch for me to factor in all that would have to happen to have Ridgeland come out of this game as the champs. The Panthers aren’t just facing the #1 offense, they are also facing the #1 defense and I hate to beat a dead horse, but the wing t won’t work against Sandy Creek. Halfback pass will be well defended. Anyway, congrats to Ridgeland…Very good school with great fans and I’m glad to see that they have reached the top level of Georgia High school football….But let the milk jug idea go. That’s a Sandy Creek thing and it will show on Saturday :-)

Woodpecker

December 10th, 2012
4:14 pm

@GTVET…. I watch the Ridgeland/Marist game and that game could have went either way. One thing that you don’t do is run Sandy Creek. I admire the fact that you are supporting your team, but let’s be realistic Ridgeland over Sandy Creek not going to happen. Sandy Creek is going to shut that Wing-T down so fast your head is going to spend. Sandy Creek has a while discipline defense in which the d-line will live in the backfield. Sandy Creek DB’s and LB’s give the best run support in the state.

Go Creeeeeeeeeeek!!!!!!!!!!

Simpleton

December 10th, 2012
5:41 pm

Apparently English grammar is foreign to Sandy Crik (sp.) fans such as Woody Woodpecker.

DownByTheCreek

December 10th, 2012
5:50 pm

@Simpleton… What’s your problem?