Class AAAAA Scouting Report

Class AAAAA Title Game (8:30 p.m. Friday)

Ware County (13-1) vs. Gainesville (11-3)

Overview: The Ware County Gators are making their third appearance in a state championship game and their first since losing to Northside-Warner Robins 20-14 in the 2007 Class AAAA final. Ware County has not won a state championship, although Waycross High, which merged with Ware County in 1994, won four titles between 1960 and 1981. … The Gainesville Red Elephants are making their seventh appearance in the final. Gainesville has been to the semifinals or beyond 19 times, the most of any team in the state that has not won a championship.

Ware County season: Ware County lost to Class AAAAAA Coffee 21-14 in the opener and then won 13 consecutive games, earning its first region title since 2007 and ninth overall. The Gators’ 13 victories are a school record.

Gainesville season: Gainesville won seven consecutive games after a 32-30 loss to Class AAAAAA West Forsyth in the opener. However, the Red Elephants struggled down the stretch, losing their final two regular-season games to 4-6 Loganville and region champion Flowery Branch to settle for the No. 2 seed in 8-AAAAA.

Ware County strength: Ware County has the top-ranked defense in AAAAA, allowing 8.6 points per game for the season. The Gators have held eight of 14 opponents to a touchdown or less, including five shutouts. Their past two playoff opponents, Stephenson and Northside-Warner Robins, had their lowest-scoring games of the year against the Gators.

Gainesville strength: Gainesville has the highest-scoring offense and likely the most dangerous offensive player in Class AAAAA. QB Deshaun Watson can be lethal throwing or running, and he is surrounded by a stable of dangerous receivers. The Red Elephants have averaged 45.1 points for the season, 48.5 in the playoffs and 35.0 in their three losses.

Ware County’s top players: RB/LB Xavier Tobler (committed to Georgia Southern) was the co-player of the year in 3-AAAAA. He has rushed for 1,648 yards and made 112 total tackles. Jimal McBride was the region’s defensive co-player of the year after finishing with 136 tackles, including 25 for losses. QB Jammar Johnson, WR Isa Lowe, OL Sam Baptiste, PK Seth Starling, LB Dedrick Mills and DB Cameron Gibson made the first-team all-region team.

Gainesville’s top players: Junior QB Deshaun Watson (committed to Clemson) has more than 5,000 combined yards rushing and passing and had a hand in 69 touchdowns. Sophomore Rodney Lackey and senior Caleb Hayman (South Alabama) are the top receivers. Junior LB Devan Stringer has the led the team in tackles for two consecutive seasons.

On Ware County: “They’ve improved from the time we played them, and they were really good when we played them. … The thing about Ware is you’re going to have to beat them. They’re not going to beat themselves.” – Glynn Academy coach Rob Ridings, whose team lost to Ware County 27-10 on Oct. 5 in the regular season.

On Gainesville: “We scored 42 against them, and you’d think if you scored 42 you’d have a pretty good chance of winning. But I don’t know if that’s the case anymore because offenses are so explosive now. They’re going to let you score so they can get it back and do it again. It’s like NBA basketball now.” – Kell coach Derek Cook, whose team lost to Gainesville 61-42 in the second round of the playoffs.

AJC pick: Gainesville 27, Ware County 21

12 comments Add your comment


December 13th, 2012
1:16 pm

I was born and raised in Waycross and now live in the metro Atlanta area. Most teams from south Georgia get little respect from anybody north of Macon. So Gainesville is the favorite? Shocking


December 13th, 2012
2:37 pm

CORRECTION… Gainesville lost to West Forsyth 32-30… LETS GO BIG RED!!!


2000 DeKalb County Defensive Player of the Year

December 13th, 2012
3:30 pm

good luck to both teams!!!


December 13th, 2012
4:52 pm

Josh believe it or not the south GA teams get a lot of respect from the schools from the north. The media may not but anyone that knows HS football knows S.GA has great FB teams and always have had good FB teams. Tomorrow nights game will be one of the best all weekend . I coached some of these kids from Gainesville in the park and rec and they have been playing for this moment their whole lives just like the kids from waycross have. It is a dream come true for these kids and it will be a great game !! It will not be a blow out it will be a very close tight game !! Good Luck to the Gators but i bleed Red and Black !! GO BIG RED!!!!


December 13th, 2012
7:28 pm

note most of the players from ware are actually from the city of waycross. it’s a good combination but ware only beat wayx maybe twice years ago. go gators.


December 14th, 2012
12:21 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.


December 14th, 2012
3:59 pm

31-14 Ware…Defense wins this game!! Ware has a VERY GOOD DEFENSE!! BeWARE!!!

Longhorn nation

December 14th, 2012
9:05 pm

This game is over told you this team was complete and Watson is beast

hit a single

December 14th, 2012
9:42 pm

Announcers are terrible and that is an understatement!


December 14th, 2012
9:44 pm

OK, sitting here and waiting for that very good defense that wins games from WARE. Guess they left it in South Georgia for the holiday’s, cause right no it’s Gainesville defense that is very good and the offense is eating up that VERY GOOD DEFENSE.


December 14th, 2012
9:47 pm

It’s GPB, on a budget, so you get the announcers you get. I’m watching the game, hell with announcers.


December 14th, 2012
9:48 pm

Like I said, the best defense Gainesville has seen this year is Buford…. LETS GO BIG RED!!!