By David Purdum / For the AJC
–Carrollton runs a wing-T attack featuring three backs —Jarvis Terrell, Malik Sheppard and Trey Chivers—who have each rushed for more than 800 yards. Carrollton averages seven yards per carry. Will Griffin’s defense be able to stand up?
–Griffin runs an explosive no-huddle, up-tempo offense featuring senior quarterback Jaquez Parks and a bevy of weapons at receiver, including Christian Owens, who is committed to Georgia. Second-leading receiver Keyston Fuller is back after suffering a shoulder injury against Sandy Creek. If the game turns into a track meet, the coaches I spoke to this week believe the Bears will have the advantage.
–This is Carrollton coach Rayvan Teague’s second time taking the Trojans to the state championship game. A lot of the seniors on this year’s team were freshmen, when Carrollton reach the 2010 title game in the Georgia Dome. This is the first time for Griffin coach Steve DeVoursney to coach in a state championship game. In preparation, he contacted Sandy Creek coach Chip Walker, Marist coach Alan Chadwick and Lamar County coach Franklin Stephens. Those three coaches have seven state championships between them.
–Griffin second leading rusher Malik Miller is out with a leg injury suffered against Sandy Creek. Bears kicker Tristen Mathis also was injured against Sandy Creek, but will play Saturday. DeVoursney said, however, that his kicker will not be at 100 percent.
–Here is my advance story for Saturday’s game: Griffin, Carrollton persevere to reach championship game.
–Here is my info box file for Saturday’s game: Griffin-Carrollton facts and figures
Monroe Area’s average starting field position in its second-round loss to Carrollton was its own 19-yard line. Trojans’ kicker Tyler Newsome, a Notre Dame commitment, will do that to you. Ten of Newsome’s 20 punts this season have pinned opponents inside their own 20-yard line. Seventy-six of his 100 kickoffs have resulted in touchbacks.
“They have the best kicking game I’ve seen in 30 years,” Monroe Area coach Matt Fligg said.
Griffin has blocked seven punts this season, but Bears coach Steve DeVoursney said he doubts they’ll get to Newsome on Saturday. “He just gets it off to quick,” DeVoursney said.
–Carrollton has three sets of twins on the roster: P/K Tyler and offensive lineman Trevor Newsome, Safety Sam and receiver Andrew Turner, and sophomore defensive linemen Parker and Hayes Roach.
I talked to a handful of coaches to help make my prediction. Some had played both Griffin and Carrollton. Others had played one or the other. The consensus was – there is no consensus. Half picked Carrollton; the other half picked Griffin.
I initially leaned toward the Trojans, because I believe there is something to a coach having the experience of handling the build-up to a state championship game and the Georgia Dome environment. And so I originally picked Carrollton, 31-28, but was swayed by a coach who questioned the wisdom of the Trojans getting involved in a high-scoring shootout. I switched to Griffin, but was then reminded by another coach of the significant advantage in the kicking game Carrollton has.
Back and forth, I went, until I flipped a coin and took – Griffin 28, Carrollton 27. I think this will be a close game between two teams oozing talent.