By David Purdum / For the AJC
A pair of dramatic semifinal victories has set up a doozy of a AAAA state championship game.
For the second straight week, Griffin quarterback Jaquez Parks led a second-half comeback to help the unbeaten Bears hold off No. 7 Wayne County and advance to their first title game since 1980. Last week, Parks led two scoring drives in the final seven minutes in a road upset of defending champion Sandy Creek. Against Wayne County, the senior quarterback rallied the Bears back from a 14-6 halftime deficit. Griffin’s Anfornee Stroud changed the momentum with a 58-yard interception return for a touchdown on Wayne County’s first drive of the second half. Parks adding a passing and rushing touchdown
No. 2 Griffin will face No. 4 Carrollton, which won a four-overtime thriller over Marist. Carrollton’s Jarvis Terrell scored three touchdowns and the winning two-point conversion in the fourth overtime. The Trojans avenged a five-overtime playoff loss to Marist last season, thanks to a defensive stop on a potential tying two-point conversion.
Carrollton is headed to the Georgia Dome for the second time in the last four seasons.
According to the Georgia High School Football Historians Association, Griffin and Carrollton have played three times, with the last meeting coming in 1922. Ninety-one years later, the Bears and Trojans will kick off at 5:30 p.m., Saturday in the Georgia Dome.
State Championship Game Notes: Griffin coach Steve DeVoursney is 127-35 (78.3 percent) in 13 seasons. … Carrollton coach Rayvan Teague is 117-26 (81.8 percent) in 12 seasons. … Griffin lost leading rusher Malik Miller and No. 2 receiver Keyston Fuller to injuries in the win over Sandy Creek. Both missed Friday’s game against Wayne County. … The Bears and Trojans have one common opponent – Sandy Creek. Carrollton lost at home, 24-7, to Region 5-rival Sandy Creek. The Bears beat the Patriots, 32-26, on the road. … Last season’s AAAA state championship participants—Sandy Creek and Ridgeland—each received $32,997.89 from gate revenue. … Griffin QB Jaquez Parks is an academic star with an offer from Harvard on the table. … Carrollton star defensive tackle Dontavius Russell de-committed from Georgia last week. Russell initially picked Georgia over Auburn, Alabama and Florida, but says he is re-opening his recruiting.
–Marist outgained Carrollton 424-372, but lost at home in the playoffs for only the third time since 1987. The War Eagles (11-3) overcame early-season losses to Thomas County Central and Lovett to reach the semifinals for the 12th time in coach Alan Chadwick’s 29-year tenure. Chadwick is seventh on the all-time Georgia high school wins list with 322.
–Wayne County (11-3) posted double-digit wins for the first time in 21 years, as coach Jody Grooms continues to turn around the Yellow Jackets’ program. Wayne County went 6-34 in the four seasons, before Grooms arrived in 2010. The Yellow Jackets are 26-18-2 in Grooms’ four seasons.