Class AAAAA Preview

It has been a phenomenal and perhaps unprecedented season for Deshaun Watson.

The Gainesville quarterback enters Friday’s Class AAAAA championship game against Ware County with 3,707 yards passing, 1,356 yards rushing and a combined 69 touchdowns this season for the classification’s highest-scoring team. He has broken the state record for career touchdown passes (105) and needs just 17 yards to break the career passing yardage record of 9,062. And he’s just a junior.

“He just does a lot of things you can’t teach,” Gainesville coach Bruce Miller said. “You try to teach it, but he’s just got a lot of natural ability and calmness to make things happen. His ability to manage the game while he’s out there is just uncanny. You’re just glad he’s on your team.”

Now Watson and the Red Elephants are one victory away from the first state championship in school history. To take that final step, however, Gainesville will have to get past a Ware County team that in many ways is the opposite of the Red Elephants.

The Gators, also seeking their first state championship, are more of a run-oriented, ball-control team and have the top-ranked defense in Class AAAAA, allowing 8.6 points per game with five shutouts. They have Region 3’s co-player of the year in running back/linebacker Xavier Tobler and the defensive co-player of the year in lineman Jimal McBride.

“We have good players and coaches on defense,” Ware County coach Ed Dudley said. “We put an emphasis on that throughout the program, so kids grow up with the high expectations to play well.”

It is that battle between the Gainesville offense and the Ware defense where the game is likely to be decided.

“You try to take away the throw by putting more people in coverage, and then [Watson] pulls it down and runs all over you,” said Kell coach Derek Cook, whose team lost to Gainesville 61-42 in the second round of the playoffs. “If you try to blitz him, put pressure on him to try to make him get rid of the ball, he does that well. He’s accurate, he hurts you like that. I really don’t know how you’re going to figure out how to stop him.

“They’re going to have to beat themselves, I think, with some turnovers, missed assignments, dropped passes, stuff like that. Or [Ware County] is going to have to play incredible ball-control offense and not let them get on the field very much.”

Ware County has proven it can slow down good offenses. Stephenson was averaging 36.4 points before being shut out and held to 63 total yards by the Gators in the quarterfinals. Northside-Warner Robins was averaging 43.8 points before being held to 17 by Ware in an overtime loss last week.

“They are very good on defense, and boy they run well,” Gainesville’s Miller said of the Gators. “It could be a low-scoring game, you don’t know, but we’ve got our work cut out for us.”

20 comments Add your comment

jokurone class of 65' Red Elephants

December 13th, 2012
12:36 pm

Red Elephants finally put the trophy in the case!

jvillebil

December 13th, 2012
12:42 pm

@jokurone = Don’t clear that spot in your trophy case just yet, remember the game is played on the field. The Gators aren’t coming to the dome just to pick up a runner-up trophy! We’ve got our work cut out for us, but I think this team is up to the challenge.

fifener pod

December 13th, 2012
1:42 pm

You know, most championships are won with great defenses, but how in the world do you stop Mr. Watson. He can run just about as well as he throws the ball…Going to be a very exciting game.

itsonlywrite

December 13th, 2012
2:23 pm

I watched the Ware Co games against Stephenson, Lakeside, and Northside. Stephenson couldn’t get by Ware b/c they lacked a passing game and Ware didnt allow anything on the ground. Northside could have hurt Ware if their passing game was better, but they tried to run and didnt get anywhere. The Lakeside-Evans game was interesting b/c Ware went up against a decent “Spread offense.” Ware did pretty good against it, but Lakeside didnt do themselves any favors with their turnovers. But you could tell that if Lakeside’s offense was a little bit more potent, the score would have either been alot closer or Lakeside could have possibly won b/c they did a good job against the Ware Co offense. Ware Co couldnt put together a drive against their defense, but managed to get a couple of good turnovers and a big play here and there. So with that said, it will be interesting to see how Ware Co does against a waaaaaay better “Spread offense.” LETS GO BIG RED!!!

#ELEPHANTNATION

kmilton

December 13th, 2012
3:07 pm

this will a good game to watch, glad it will be played on the field not in the blogs, but i do believe the gators defense will up for the challenge. o

Max Sizemore

December 13th, 2012
5:55 pm

Watson is an amazing player, and Gainesville has the scheme and the complementary players to go with him.

hypocrite leader

December 13th, 2012
7:47 pm

Can’t wait truth of the matter Gainesville figured out that our QB could not run the ball so the zone read was useless and stared put lots of pressure on him passing and he cough up the ball for couple pick sixes Having a pocket passer that has concert feet that can’t pass under pressure won’t make it far in the play offs we were lucky to make it past SWD and its not at like we didn’t have better QB we had 2 seniors that we twice as good with more experience.so the Moral of the story don’t listen to a coach that talk out his @ sssssss

jvillebil

December 13th, 2012
8:27 pm

@itsonlywrite I’ve attended 6 of Ware’s games and the playoffs. The Lakeside game at which I was in attendence wasn’t much of a game. Ware County just seemed to be going through the motions because they knew Lakeside couldn’t beat them. As the competition has gotten stiffer so has the defense. Ware moved the ball well on Northside and if they hadn’t of went into their pre-vent defense with 3 minutes to go and the ball on NSWR on 10 facing a 90-yard drive I don’t believe they would have scored. I think Gainesville and Watson will provide the biggest challenge, Ware has seen this season. I also think Gainesville will find out that Ware’s offense is extremely balance and they can throw or pass and yes Ware’s QB can run also. I think this game could go either way, but I do know we have a solid defense. Good Luck. GO GATORS!!

BigDawg1980

December 14th, 2012
12:12 am

Ware 31-14….Go Gators! Defense wins championships!!

BubbaEarl

December 14th, 2012
12:24 am

Deshaun Watson can take over a game and if he is on, Ware County will not be able to stop him and Gainesville will win. Sounds easy, but Gainesville always seems to have a bad performance come out of nowhere. Even though it is for the championship, it would not surprise me if they come out flat and if they do against a great team like Ware Co., I can see this game get away from them. GHS does not respond well to adversity, so if things start off tough they could go into what I call their unexplainable malaise. Coach Miller is a better than average HS coach, but is often out coached in big games where all the coaches are good. I have no idea who will win this game because GHS is an enigma. I would not be surprised if GHS blew out Ware Co. I would also not be surprised if they got off track and an excellent Ware Co. defense got into their fragile psyches and GHS and their coach panic and the team folds. Coach Miller has been known to make questionable decision at the slightest hint of trouble. GHS is more explosive and will have the best player on the field and if he gets in a groove….Ware Co. will be in for a long night. Ware Co. is more disciplined, has the better game day coach, and if they can run the ball it is going to be an ugly night for GHS. I will be there and may the best team, coach, and game plan win.

itsonlywrite

December 14th, 2012
12:52 am

@jvillebil Well that might have been the case in the Lakeside game, but they weren’t playing prevent for most of that game. They had 4 on the line with a rush at times, unlike the “prevent” they played against Northside. But Lakeside couldn’t really sustain or finish off drives though. They would get goin and cough the ball somehow. But yeah, I think this may be a bigger challenge for Ware instead of Gainesville b/c I dont think Ware will be the TOUGHEST defense G’ville has seen, but ONE of the toughest. I think Buford was probably the toughest so far. But Ware Co isn’t a push over neither so its gonna be a good game to see who wants it more and seem to be pretty solid. See you guys tomorrow at the DOME!!! LETS GO BIG RED!!!

#ELEPHANTNATION

jvillebil

December 14th, 2012
1:03 am

@itsonlywrite This should be an interesting game. We both know what we are capable of. I must admit, the Gainesville bloggers make good points and aren’t as arrogant as some of the other supporters from the other teams. I hope it’s an exciting game and we pull it out at the end. LOL I’ll feel bad for Gainesville, because like us you have waited forever for a championship. Good Luck & GO GATORS!! Is it 8:30 pm yet?

BubbaEarl

December 14th, 2012
1:36 am

GHS lost to a more disciplined, better coached Peach Co. team that ran the ball well by 1 point a few years ago and lost 7-6 in the pouring ran to MITCHELL-BAKER HIGH in 1983 when I was in the 10th grade. I was at both games and they were both heartbreaking. We have come so close and not been able to get it done and it just feels like it is going to happen again.

BubbaEarl

December 14th, 2012
1:55 am

My wife’s and her family have very deep roots in Ware County. Both her parents grew up there and most of her cousins, aunts, etc. still live down there. My “Know It All Father-In-Law” will be tough to be around if his hometown team sticks to his not good enough for his daughter son-in-law. He just cannot keep himself from gloating even over something small. He would enjoy a Ware Co victory entirely too much

endigo

December 14th, 2012
4:47 am

with all respect… Boring Final

JFant29

December 14th, 2012
6:47 am

I'll Be There

December 14th, 2012
8:12 am

“…whose team lost to Gainesville 61-42 in the second round of the playoffs.” As someone who’s just going with a herd of Red Elephants to the game – you mean they’ve already played in the playoffs this year? Can somebody help me out here?

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

December 14th, 2012
8:54 am

Bubba earl, your 1224 post is spot on about the gville enigma. How do you beat buford and then loose to loganville? One point: almost all of this yrs team remembers what burke did to them last year. This team is playing its best on both sides of the line of scrimmage.

Special teams is a concern, for some reason our kickoff coverage stinks. As much as we kickoff and as many starters that play spec teams, we should be better.

@endigo – boring game? Obviuosly you have never seen watson play

mr.roboto

December 14th, 2012
9:33 am

If my memory serves correct, noone gave Ware a chance against the # 1 ranked Northside Team. But yet now Gainesville is the dominant team despite a 10-3 record. Time will tell my friends.

itsonlywrite

December 14th, 2012
12:15 pm

@jvillebil yeah… Gainesville isnt filled with a bunch arrogant ppl like the rest of the posters I see on here… BUT!!! all our rivalry schools in the area would probably differ on that… lol but yeah, I think the game should be pretty good.

@BubbaEarl I hope you we dont lose so you dont have to go through that torment… lol

@My dad is a tv repairman. I can fix it. yeah, G’ville will lose a game it was supposed to win.. even the West Forsyth game could have been won. The good thing to take from all of those games is that the offense still put points up. We just lost due to mistakes… which are fixable..

@mr.roboto I feel what you’re saying. But to be honest, Northside was slightly overrated. They were a good team, but they werent as good as they were hyped to be. Especially when they were rated #1 in ALL CLASSIFICATIONS. lol… smh… Gainesville has flaws, but Ware Co. hasn’t seen an offense this efficient. But at the end of the day, the game is played on the field. Also, Gainesville wasn’t predicted to go this far neither. They even said we were a “Cinderella” team… smh… lol