Class AAAA: Carrollton, Griffin persevere to reach championship game

By David Purdum / For the AJC

The Carrollton Trojans found out they weren’t ready for a big game on Nov. 1, when defending champion Sandy Creek came into their stadium and handed out a deflating 24-7 loss. The Trojans’ confidence was shaken. Their feelings were hurt, and their senior defensive captain Casey Collins was lost for the season with an ACL injury.

“He was our leader, made all the calls and checks,” said Carrollton coach Rayvan Teague. “We emotionally hated it for him, and we got our feelings hurt, because we weren’t quite as ready as we thought we were for a big game. But once they got over having their feelings hurt and having their bubble burst that they might not be as good as they thought they were, they went back to work and with a purpose.”

The Trojans’ swagger has returned during a playoff run featuring three road wins over ranked opponents, including last week’s four-overtime thriller at No. 5 Marist. But Carrollton’s biggest test comes this afternoon in the AAAA state championship game (5: 30 p.m.) against a dynamic Griffin team that knocked off Sandy Creek on the road on its way to the Georgia Dome.

The Bears enter their first state championship game since 1980 knowing how to handle adversity. Senior quarterback Jaquez Parks, whose college offers include Harvard, has led second-half comebacks in the quarterfinal win over Sandy Creek and last week over Wayne County. But, like Carrollton, Griffin lost key contributor against Sandy Creek. The Bears’ top running back Malik Miller is out for today’s game with a leg injury. Devontae Freeman and Randall Hunt have stepped up in Miller’s place, coach Steve DeVoursney said.

DeVoursney played in two Georgia state championship games as a defensive tackle for R.E. Lee High School, but this will be his first coaching in a title game. He has picked the brains of his coaching colleagues for advice about the build-up and says he’s going with the standard cliché of “business as usual.”

“I don’t know if we’re better off being even-keel and just getting the job done (in practice) or being jacked-up and trying to knock each other out,” said DeVoursney. “I don’t know which way I’d like it. I just know that on Saturday that they’re fired-up and ready to go. That’s when it counts.”

This will be first meeting in the modern era between these two consistently strong programs that are located 60 miles apart. Griffin has reached the semifinals four times and the playoffs in each of DeVoursney’s 13 seasons. Carrollton is in the championship game for the second time in four years and has reached the quarterfinals of the playoffs in eight Teague’s 12 seasons.

21 comments Add your comment

bear dad

December 12th, 2013
11:45 am

LETs GO GRIFFIN

Old Bear

December 12th, 2013
12:13 pm

I was a student when GHS was in the ‘78 and ‘80 championship games. Those trips to Valdosta were unforgettable. The trip to the Dome will be a unique experience, and I look forward to a successful finish. I’m proud for these kids – they’ve gotten the town pumped up. Good luck, Bears.

Go Trojans!

December 12th, 2013
12:41 pm

We are going to party like it’s 1921!

Go Trojans!

Bear_Backer

December 12th, 2013
1:27 pm

@ Old Bear – I had already graduated from good old GHS, hung up my spikes, and was serving in the military back in the days you mentioned. I was able to work my leave-time to be home for both those Valdosta trips though, and yes oh yes they were so memorable. I’ll never forget talking with Coach Bohannon after the game in 78 and how happy we all were to get that epic “win” in Valdosta. (A game which Griffin really won outright, but a lame call on a good field goal allowed Valdosta to escape with half the trophy!) That game in 80 in the concrete jungle the Bears were just overmatched against a powerful Lowndes team. This time around, in the Dome, Griffin needs to bring it on home. No disrespect toward the fine folks over in Carrollton, but this is the year of the BEAR!!!!
GO GRIFFIN!!!!

Taco

December 12th, 2013
8:48 pm

I got no respect for Carrollton or Marist or any of the other teams from the weak little sister brackets. The Bears have played the best and beat the best to get here. We will roll these boys Saturday in the Dome. Mark it down. Wing T? Seriously? Is this 2013?

Patriot Power

December 12th, 2013
9:13 pm

Griffin doesn’t need to talk about anyone’s weak schedule. They played 1 playoff team and 8 teams with losing records in the regular season. Carrollton played Oxford, Calhoun, Alexander, and Sandy Creek in theirs

Old Bear

December 12th, 2013
11:12 pm

Griffin BEAT Sandy Creek. They earned their way to the final, just like Carrollton. We’ll see who takes the title Saturday night.

@ Bear_Backer – You are correct – Wally Wetherbee’s kick was good. Griffin, a 4 TD underdog, beat “mighty” Valdosta at their house, and both teams knew it.

Taco

December 12th, 2013
11:39 pm

Patriot Power may be right, Sandy Creek may have been overated.

manblk22

December 13th, 2013
12:32 am

Mr taco bell, no disrepect to the fine folks of Griffin. But, records dont lie. Football is football. No matter which side of the brackets your on. Now, act like your been to an championship before. Oh, forgot. Its been 33 years.

Bearman

December 13th, 2013
1:09 am

It may have been 33 yrs…but if you look on the sidelines Sat. I think u will spot some NFL Griffin players in pads and some without pads… Of course if you look on your sideline you may spot “Rudy” with a big ole Trojan stretched over his head! Good Luck and remember to bring your Trojan if you plan on picking up a lady on Northside Drive to help relieve you of the pain after that big loss! Make sure you have a tough Trojan for that and not like the one that will be on display inside the Dome.

Old Bear

December 13th, 2013
1:34 am

If Carrollton fans insist on insulting Griffin, thy will cease to be the Trojans and will become the Prophylactics. I’ve held my tongue and been diplomatic, but enough is enough.

@ manblk22 – act like you’ve got some class. Oh, forgot. You don’t.

hollywoodraiders

December 13th, 2013
8:02 am

@ bearman and @ old bear you sound like todays refs catching the second one when clearly taco started this mess/ bottom line game is played on sat. griffin has not won yet stop acting like they have and @ bearman i may just go by northside dr. sounds like fun

manblk22

December 13th, 2013
8:54 am

Mr. Bearman, wow. Last time i checked. NFL players dont play high school football. For your infomation. U want need trojans on Nside Dr. Wrong area.lol…..

Cool J

December 13th, 2013
9:33 am

Patriot power the reference was to the playoff brackets. We all know Griffin had the toughest road to the Dome. No cupcakes in the playoffs like Rome and Chestatee in rounds 1 and 2 like Big Bad Sandy Creek. Griffin will have faced come sat. including Carrollton four teams ranked in the top 10 in AAAA. Another thing the teams we faced during the regular season was by region assignment not by choice and you need to get your facts straight that we faced 8 teams with losing records is incorrect, it was 6. Sandy creek played 5 teams with losing records this year. Griffin had the decency to not hang 60 points on overmatched opponents. Never the less get over it, there is always next year for y’all . Griffin has some unfinished business at the GA Dome. State Championship game. Go Bears!!

dds Todd

December 13th, 2013
11:05 am

Talk about getting facts straight, Rome is not even in AAAA!!!!

Bearman

December 13th, 2013
11:46 am

@manboy22, Just bring it “Rudy”! I think we are ready… I sure hope you guys are ready to see a Lamar Co.(Bear Fans) and our faithful Bear Nation take over the Dome. Good luck and have a safe trip to the Dome!

Just a Fan

December 13th, 2013
4:08 pm

Not that it matters but I am signing off for this year-not an elitist but do not want to be a part of this sometimes ignorant,sometimes insulting exchange of ????ideas???.Congrats to most of the Marist and SC fans most of whom kept things on a higher level. I remain a Carrollton fan but dont agree with a lot of the postings by my fellow fans.

Cool J

December 13th, 2013
8:49 pm

@ DDS Todd. Cedartown and Nick Chubb was the opponent. Either way they were no competition. Ha!! Ha!!

Papa bear

December 14th, 2013
9:10 pm

What do you have to say know manblk22! Haha

Old Bear

December 14th, 2013
9:20 pm

Griffin Bears – 4-AAAA, then 5-AAAA AND state AAAA champions.

Old Bear

December 14th, 2013
9:23 pm

I said before that Carrollton hadn’t seen team speed like what Griffin possessed. Now they have been formally introduced to it.