Dynasties, first-time winners and other things to know about the finals

The Georgia high school football championship games are in the Georgia Dome on Friday and Saturday in the final week of a season that began in August.

If you want to be in the know, these 10 nuggets may help:

*What’s new: There are seven championship games this season for the first time. That’s because the GHSA expanded to a sixth classification and split Class A into public and private divisions. That means earlier kickoffs. Dooly County and Emanuel County Institute are driving from south Georgia on Friday to make the first state championship game to start in the morning (11:30 a.m. Saturday).

*Dynasties: Buford has reached the finals for a record sixth consecutive season and can win an eighth title in 12 seasons, something matched only by Valdosta (1951-62 and 1960-71). Calhoun is in the finals for the fifth straight time and can become the eighth school in history to finish 15-0 in consecutive seasons. Sandy Creek is going for a third title in four seasons, which has been done by only 13 schools. ECI can become the only Class A school with two titles in the past six seasons, during which the Bulldogs are 70-9.

*First-time champions: Nine of the 14 teams in the finals have never won GHSA state titles. That’s the most never-before champions ever in the finals. With their first year of playing varsity football noted in parentheses, those teams include Prince Avenue Christian (2005), Lovejoy (1990), Ridgeland (1989), Dooly County (2001), Ware County (1958), Norcross (1957), Jefferson (1947) and Gainesville (1905). The ninth, Eagle’s Landing Christian, won a state title in the Georgia Independent School Association in 1996 and joined the GHSA in 2004.

*Most expected: Sandy Creek (AAAA) and Calhoun (AA) have been ranked No. 1 since the preseason. ELCA (A) has been ranked No. 1 since Sept. 10. ECI, at No. 2, is the highest-ranked public school in A. Also not terribly surprising are No. 2 Norcross (AAAAAA), No. 3 Buford (AAA), No. 6 Ware County (AAAA), No. 7 Jefferson (AA), No. 7 Lovejoy (AAAAAA), No. 7 St. Pius (AAA) and No. 9 Ridgeland (AAAA).

*Least expected: The unranked teams in the finals are Gainesville in AAAAA and Prince Avenue and Dooly County in A. Gainesville was ranked until losing its final two games of the regular season to Loganville and Flowery Branch. No team has won a state title with a finish like that since Marietta in 1967. Prince Avenue was dropped after losing its final regular-season game to George Walton Academy. Dooly County is the only significant surprise to many. The 11-2 Bobcats upset fourth-ranked Lincoln County 10-7 in the semifinals.

*Northern exposure: Five of the 14 finalists are north Georgia teams from outside of metro Atlanta. They are Gainesville, Ridgeland, Calhoun, Jefferson and Prince Avenue Christian. That’s the most of their kind since 1977. Granted, there are four more teams playing in the championships this year than last, but only five years ago, no north Georgia teams outside of metro Atlanta made the finals.

*St. Pius, class of ‘80: Three 1980 graduates from St. Pius are head coaches in these finals. They are Ware County’s Ed Dudley, St. Pius’ Paul Standard and Norcross’ Keith Maloof. Their high school coach was Keith’s father, George Maloof, who led St. Pius to its only state title in 1968. Each of his three protégés is looking to win his first state title.

*Blue-chippers: Two of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Super 11 are still playing. They are defensive tackle Montravius Adams of Dooly County and defensive back/receiver Vonn Bell of Ridgeland. Those two plus Norcross running back Alvin Kamara are Georgia’s three most highly recruited players who have not made college choices.

*State record: Gainesville quarterback Deshaun Watson needs 17 yards to break the state record for career passing yards of 9,062 held by Zach Stanford of Metter (2001-04). Watson set the state record for career TD passes last week. He has 105. Watson is a junior.

*Player of the year: This all-classification award has gone to a player in the state finals for 22 of the past 26 seasons, and it’s almost certain it will this year. Leading contenders include Watson, Adams, Bell and Kamara and the other 2,000-yard rusher in the AAAAAA final, Lovejoy’s Travis Custis. And don’t forget Calhoun quarterback Taylor Lamb, already named the Gatorade state player of the year. Some dark horse candidates are Jefferson quarterback Bryant Shirreffs, Ware County two-way star Xavier Tobler and Ridgeland 2,000-yard rusher Darrell Bridges.

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28 comments Add your comment

jvillebil

December 13th, 2012
7:19 am

Tobler is an amazing player with energy that just carries him through the 4th quarter. GO GATORS!

old timer

December 13th, 2012
9:50 am

Dooly County High School opened in 1981. Vienna and Unadilla High Schools were consolidated. They also played West rome in the finals in 1983. Do your homework.

aaron ashmore

December 13th, 2012
10:00 am

old timer you just answered my question. I thought Dooly County was playing ball long beore 2001.

aaron ashmore

December 13th, 2012
10:00 am

As always, great article and informational piece.

Kim C

December 13th, 2012
10:29 am

In FLA cheering for JACKETS in the DOME to bring it on!!!!!!

Westlakealum

December 13th, 2012
10:44 am

Im trying to understand how Shaq Wiggins from SAndy Creek is the highest rated CB in Georgia according to ESPN playing in the under armour game but not AJC Super 11. That makes zero sense to me.

sportsnut

December 13th, 2012
11:05 am

@ Westlakealum == Don’t try to. It is crazy. People see what they want to see. It goes very deep.

Coffee Fan

December 13th, 2012
11:29 am

Xavier Tobler is one of the best in HS football. Good Luck to all schools…pulling for Gators!

Flo - Ri - Duh

December 13th, 2012
11:29 am

The only class “A” team to have back to back state champions in the 2000’s is? HAWKINSVILLE – in 2003 and 2004. That was before the private schools were split from the public schools in class “A” I went Woodward / GMA (formerly Georgia Military Academy) back in the 60’s and we played the public schools and still do.

Flo - Ri - Duh

December 13th, 2012
11:33 am

Westlaealum : Shaq is rated very high by some of the services that do the ratings but is rated a 3 star by others. Just an opinion by someone getting a pay check to get opinions. Some 5 stars are a complete bust in college and some 3 stars are All American. Opinions are wrong sometimes.

Flo - Ri - Duh

December 13th, 2012
11:36 am

What I am saying also that those picking the AJC Super 11 are also just someone getting payed to make an opinion – which is often wrong.

BigDave

December 13th, 2012
12:21 pm

GO CALHOUN YELLOW JACKETS,BRING ANOTHER CHAMPIONSHIP HOME!

ATLANTA SPORTS FAN

December 13th, 2012
12:43 pm

Al

December 13th, 2012
1:21 pm

Flo – Ri – Duh— Lincoln County won the state title in Class A in 2005 and 2006. 05 against Washington-Wilkes and 06 against Clinch County.

the truth

December 13th, 2012
2:15 pm

“Buford has reached the finals for a record sixth consecutive season and can win an eighth title in 12 seasons, something matched only by Valdosta”
Seems “Titletown”, and “Winnersville” need to move if they want to keep their names.

itsonlywrite

December 13th, 2012
2:48 pm

SOOOOOOOOOOOO, Buford which is about 15 to 20 minutes away from Gainesville is METRO ATLANTA? hahahahaha riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight…

#ELEPHANTNATION

the champ is here!

December 13th, 2012
4:43 pm

going to the SHIP!!! championship that is….5times in a row …JACKET NATION LESS RIDE!!!!!!!!!!

the champ is here!

December 13th, 2012
4:45 pm

ATTENTION!!!!!!!!!! KILLER BEE warning saturday 2:30 ga. dome…….jefferson BEWARE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Kev

December 13th, 2012
10:15 pm

“SOOOOOOOOOOOO, Buford which is about 15 to 20 minutes away from Gainesville is METRO ATLANTA? hahahahaha riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight…”

Buford is mostly in Gwinnett County which is considered Metro Atlanta.

Dum-Bass

December 13th, 2012
10:25 pm

This has to be the most boring and irrelevant finals in quite some time. Think maybe they should discount the tickets due to lack of interest. Hurry up and get it over with, basketball has already started. Even the AJC is emphasizing BB now more than football.

Dum-Bass

December 13th, 2012
10:29 pm

Metro Atlanta is anything the AJC sportswriters want it to be at any given time, as long as it suits their purpose. BUT, on the other hand South GA is anything south of a line from Newnan to Augusta.

Camden74

December 13th, 2012
10:38 pm

Is there a Final this weekend, who’d have thunk it? :-)

PIERCE COUNTY FOOTBALL

December 14th, 2012
1:15 am

GO WARE COUNTY GATORS,BRING THE TITLE TO THE SOUTH GATORS!!!!!!

Smug

December 14th, 2012
9:29 am

Dum-Bass – Your name fits you.

chilidawg

December 14th, 2012
9:38 am

Yep, his team must not be there, thus making the finals irrelevant.

Joe Haulskie

December 14th, 2012
9:52 am

Waycross Bulldogs + Ware County Gators = STATE CHAMPS!!!!

Soonerthanlater

December 14th, 2012
9:57 am

Once again Creek wins with Westlake kids, Shaq, Chris Williams, Alpharetta’s Wilson, Langston LB, Clayton County’s Swinney, and who knows who else from everywhere but Fayette County.

Summit Dawg

December 14th, 2012
10:23 am

Go E.C.I. Bulldogs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!