The only address getting more e-mails than GHSF Daily this time of year is the North Pole. So we’ve chosen to answer a few of them today. Each of the 28 semifinal teams is covered in one of these questions, or in our Daily List, or in our Daily Trivia. So consider this issue a Christmas stocking and dig around in there until you can find them all.
OK, so some of these questions are as make believe as elves. But you can believe in the answers. If not, let us know why and we’ll fix it.
Dear Daily: Four 2012 state champions are still alive. They are Norcross, Gainesville, Buford and Eagle’s Landing Christian. What is the most number of defending champions that have gone back-to-back in one season?
- Catfish from Alto
The most repeat champs in one season is three. That occurred in 2006, when Peach County (AAA), Charlton County (AA) and Lincoln County (A) won back-to-back. The chance of any team repeating historically is one-in-five (61 of 300, to be exact). It has happened only once that the champions from the two highest classifications have repeated in the same season, as Norcross and Gainesville are attempting. Valdosta (AAA) and Waycross (AA) did it in 1961.
Dear Daily: I’m sure you’ve noticed that the Class A public-school semifinals – Charlton County at Irwin County and Hawkinsville at Marion County – are rematches. Is it really true that it’s hard to beat a good team twice?
- Dale from Gobblers Hill
No. That’s just what coaches tell their kids to fire them up. There have been eight playoff games already that were rematches, and the original winner is 7-1 in the second game. The exception was Ringgold’s 35-10 victory in the quarterfinals over Central of Carroll County, which beat Ringgold 19-15 in the regular season. There were 25 rematches played this season overall. The original winner is 20-5. As you know, Irwin County beat Charlton County 29-26 and Hawkinsville beat Marion County 14-10.
Dear Daily: Hawkinsville and Charlton County had losing records last season. Has a team ever won a state championship after a losing season, or should the Red Devils and Indians give up now?
- Ron from Racepond
It has happened only eight times in the GHSA that a team has made that kind of turnaround. The most recent was Chattahoochee in 2010 after a 4-6 finish in 2009. The others were 2000 Americus (5-6), 1986 Villa Rica (4-5-1), 1981 Douglass of Montezuma (2-7-1), 1977 Waycross (3-7), 1958 West Point (4-5-1), 1958 LaGrange (4-5-1) and 1953 Model (3-5-1). A few other teams have won state titles after a .500 finish. Brookwood went from 6-6 in 2009 to 14-1 in 2010. Charlton County was 5-6 last season. Hawkinsville was 4-6.
Dear Daily: North Gwinnett and Norcross are Region 7-AAAAAA and Gwinnett County rivals and could play each other for the title if each wins Friday. How many times have two teams from the same county played for a state title?
- Delores from Peachtree Corners
Seven times. It was nearly impossible until 1990, when the GHSA began allowing more than one team from each region in the state playoffs. Note that the 1970, 1971 and 1979 games involved same-county but not same-region teams. Woodward Academy, Westminster and Marist were “South Georgia” champions those years.
1970 – Woodward Academy 20, Dykes 14
1971 – Westminster 13, North Fulton 0
1979 – Redan 17, Marist 14
1993 – Thomas County Central 14, Thomasville 12
2002 – Buford 34, Greater Atlanta Christian 10
2002 – Parkview 28, Brookwood 7
2008 – Tucker 15, Marist 3
Dear Daily: Teams whose counties border Georgia’s northern neighbors, Tennessee and North Carolina, haven’t won a state title since the Catamounts of Dalton in 1967, if not mistaken. Ringgold is hoping to do something about that. How rare is it for one of those northerly schools to make even the semifinals?
- Wilma from Tunnel Hill
For Ringgold, it’s extremely rare. The Tigers are playing in their first. But coupled with Ridgeland’s run to the state finals in 2012, those northerly schools, as you call them, have made the semifinals in back-to-back years for the first time since 1993-94 (Dalton). It’s the first time that two different northerly schools have made the semis in back-to-back years since 1968 Dalton and 1967 Davis (which merged with Dade to form what is now Dade County High). Also note that Dalton and Murray County both made the semifinals in 1970, what is known around Chattanooga as the Glory Year. There were 33 northerly teams to make the semifinals from 1953 through 1994, but only three since – 2001 Dalton, 2012 Ridgeland and 2013 Ringgold. Others that have made it include LaFayette, Lakeview, Chattanooga Valley and Rossville.
Dear Daily: Mount Pisgah Christian and Aquinas have first-year head coaches. Has a Georgia coach ever won a state title in his first season?
- Ranger Bill from old Jones Bridge on the Chattahoochee River
The last Georgia rookie head coaches to win a state title were Bryan Way of Warner Robins and Jim Dickerson of Clinch County. They won (or tied in the case of Dickerson) on this day in 2004. It has happened 17 times in history, but only three times in the past 45 years. Mount Pisgah’s Mike Forest and Aquinas’ James Leonard could become the first first-time Georgia head coaches to complete an unbeaten, untied season since the 1950s. Note that Mike Battles of Irwin County (1975) had been a head coach in Alabama before coming to Ocilla. So put an asterisk beside his name. (By the way, Battles soon returned to Alabama and is still coaching to this day with more than 300 victories.) It is possible that another of these coaches was a head coach in another state before coming to Georgia. We have no way to research that completely.
2004 – Bryan Way, Warner Robins (14-0-1)
2004 – Jim Dickerson, Clinch County (13-1-1)
1994 – Maurice Freeman, Brooks County (12-3)
1978 – Lloyd Bohannon, Griffin (12-2-1)
1975 – Mike Battles, Irwin County (13-0)
1964 – Donald Denning, Douglas County (13-0-1)
1959 – Minton Williams, Dublin (11-0-1)
1959 – John Tillitski, Albany (12-0)
1958 – Joe Sumrall, Thomasville (10-1-2)
1958 – Hervey Amick, Stephens County (12-0)
1956 – Frank Inman, Richmond Academy (9-2-1)
1956 – Bobby Holland, Monticello (12-0)
1956 – Bill Corry, Morgan County (12-0-1)
1952 – Lindy McGee, Calhoun (7-1-2)
1951 – Glenn Yancey, Cordele (13-0)
1950 – Harold Herrington, Quitman (9-2)
1948 – Earl Wheby, Fitzgerald (11-1)
Dear Daily: Marist and Carrollton have more tradition than any two schools facing each other in the semifinals, if not anybody, period. How do their histories compare?
- Keith from Roopville
Both rank among the top five in all-time playoff victories. Carrollton (85-46-1) is third behind Lincoln County (116) and Valdosta (115). Marist (82-39) trails those and Buford (83). Carrollton has seven state titles and 29 region titles. Marist has two and 23.
Dear Daily: Benedictine and Lovett could meet in the Class AA championship game. Have two private-school teams met for a state championship except in the lowest classification? And will this lead to a public-private split in all classes?
- Rucker from Crabbapple
Not touching your second question. But as for your first, it has happened four times that two private schools have played for a state title, twice in a classification above the lowest. In 1970, Lovett beat Savannah Country Day in Class B. In those days, there was a Class C. In 1980, Woodward Academy beat Marist in AAA. In 2011, Savannah Christian beat Landmark Christian for the Class A title in a game that partly led to the public-private split that exists in the Class A playoffs. In 2012, ELCA beat Prince Avenue Christian in the first Class A private-school championship.
Dear Daily: Callaway is in the semifinals for the first time. We know LaGrange has been to the semis many times. Is Callaway the first school in Troup County to make the semis besides the Grangers?
- Betsy from West Point
Heavens no. Troup made it in 2001. And there once was a school called Hogansville. In fact, when it disappeared in 1996, Callaway sprang up to take its place. Some consider it the same school. Hogansville, known as the Green Wave, made the semifinals five times (1952, 1960, 1972, 1974, 1976) and won the title in ‘52 under coach Mike Castronis, a former University of Georgia football player and coach and Circle of Honor honoree. Meanwhile, West Point played and won six semifinal games and won three state titles from 1948 through 1963. West Point closed in 1986. Living in West Point, we’d expect you to know that.
Dear Daily: McEachern and Kell made the semifinals this year. When is the last time that Cobb County has sent two teams to the semifinals?
- Tim from Lost Mountain
It has happened five times, including 2011, when Lassiter and Walton each made it. This is the first time in history that we’ve seen a Cobb presence in the semifinals for three years in a row. For generosity sake, let’s give you every Cobb team that has made the semifinals. We’ve got the space:
1959 North Cobb*
1967 Marietta* (state champion)
2012 North Cobb
*Advanced to final
Dear Daily: Lamar County coach Franklin Stephens won state titles at Tucker in 2008 and 2011. How many coaches have won state titles at two Georgia schools?
– Durwood from Milner
T. McFerrin became the 14th last season at Jefferson. He also won at Elbert County (1995).
Dear Daily: Lovett has won 11 road games in the playoffs since Mike Muschamp became head coach in 2005. Has any school won more than that?
- Norm from Buckhead
The school with the most road playoff wins in that time is Colquitt County with 13, all since 2009 under coach Rush Propst. But Lovett ranks pretty highly in the Muschamp era. Here are the schools with six or more road playoff wins since 2005:
13 – Colquitt County
11 – Lovett
8 – Cook
8 – Flowery Branch
7 – Buford
7 – Charlton County
7 – North Gwinnett
7 – Savannah Christian
7 – St. Pius
6 – Fitzgerald
6 – Griffin
6 – Peach County
Dear Daily: Benedictine and Calvary Day, two Savannah private schools, are in the semifinals. Has Savannah ever had this many teams in the final four?
- Aunt Dot from Port Wentworth
Yes. In 1969, Savannah lost to Valdosta 20-0 in the Class AAA semifinals, while Savannah Country Day beat Mount de Sales 28-16 in the C semifinals and went on to win a state championship. Here is a list of Savannah schools in the GHSA semifinals. We have space.
1953 Commercial (became Groves)
1964 Savannah Country Day
1968 Savannah Country Day
1969 Savannah Country Day
1970 Savannah Country Day
1977 Savannah Country Day
1980 Savannah Country Day
2009 Savannah Christian
2010 Savannah Christian
2011 Savannah Christian
2013 Calvary Day
Dear Daily: Colquitt County, Washington County and Buford have beaten their first three playoff opponents by 25 points or more. Is this unusual?
- J.C. from Doerun
It used to be. Colquitt County is the first team in the highest classification to beat its first three opponents by 25 or more since 1996, when the GHSA expanded the state playoffs to 32 teams per class. Sixteen teams overall have done that in the 32-team era, including Buford and Washington County this season. (List below). Before 1996, many more teams did it, including 1971 Valdosta and 1976 Warner Robins.
1999 Charlton County
2013 Colquitt County
2000 Lincoln County
1999 Mount Zion (Jonesboro)
2006 Northside (Warner Robins)
2010 Sandy Creek
2013 Washington County
Dear Daily: In your Monday newsletter, you stated that Aquinas was founded in 1957. But didn’t Aquinas play football many years prior as Boys’ Catholic?
- Arnold from Amen Corner
According to its Web site, Aquinas opened in the fall of 1957 with the merger of Boys’ Catholic and Mount St. Joseph Academy. Boys’ Catholic fielded football teams from 1939 to 1956. Since Mount St. Joseph was a girls school, many people merge the football histories of Boys’ Catholic (the Shamrocks) and Aquinas (the Fighting Irish). Aquinas kept the same colors (kelly green), coach (Denny Leonard) and schedule as Boys’ Catholic had in 1956. Leonard’s grandson, James Leonard, is Aquinas’ current head coach.
Dear Daily: Griffin and Lamar County are making proud those us of south of metro Atlanta but north of the Macon-Dixie line. What’s the tradition of football teams in that area?
- Idgie from Juliette
I guess you’re talking about schools we can get to off I-75 on the ride south of Atlanta. Griffin has put more players in the NFL than any other school in Georgia. But it has been 35 years since the Bears famously tied (or beat, as it were) Valdosta 7-7 in the 1978 Class AAAA title game. Lamar County has yet to win a state title. A state title from this area would be the first since 1988, when R.E. Lee won AA. Mary Persons won AA in 1980. Some good football around there, but they’re due.
Produced by Georgia High School Football Daily, a free e-mail newsletter. To join the mailing list, click here.