Archive for the ‘StateFinals’ Category

Finalists from counties bordering Florida since 2002

In 2011, the state finals did not include a team from a county bordering Florida for the first time in 10 seasons. Ware County saved the day this season with its upset of No. 1-ranked Northside in the Class AAAAA semifinals. At least one Florida-bordering school has made the finals in 21 of the past 25 seasons. Here are the Florida-bordering schools that have made the finals since 2002:

2002 – Clinch County, Thomas County Central

2003 – Camden County, Charlton County, Valdosta

2004 – Charlton County, Clinch County, Lowndes

2005 – Charlton County, Lowndes

2006 – Charlton County, Clinch County

2007 – Cairo, Lowndes, Ware County

2008 – Cairo, Camden County

2009 – Camden County

2010 – Clinch County

2011 –

2012 – Ware County

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Statistical leaders for Friday’s finalists


Ware County






Points per game



PPG allowed



Avg. yards rushing



Avg. yards passing



Avg. total yards


Rushing Leaders





Ware County

#21 Xavier Tobler





#4 Quay Taylor





#14 Jammar Johnson






#4 Deshaun Watson





#22 Michael Byrd





#15 Jay Gaudlock





Passing Leaders





Ware County

#14 Jammar Johnson






#4 Deshaun Watson





Receiving Leaders





Ware County

#89 Isa Lowe

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Class AA preview

By Michael Alpert

For the AJC

The way fans rushed the field when Jefferson beat visiting Fitzgerald in triple overtime in the Class AA quarterfinals, Dragons coach T. McFerrin said it was “like we’d won the Super Bowl.”

That makes potential celebration after Saturday’s Class AA final against Calhoun at the Georgia Dome unfathomable.

Though close in record, 13-1 Jefferson is decidedly the underdog against 14-0 defending champion Calhoun, a team unbeaten in two seasons, winner of 12 consecutive region championships and playing in a fifth state championship game in a row. In contrast, Jefferson’s never won a championship, last reached finals in 1975 and ‘77, and had to sneak up on people to win its first region title in three years.

It’s a classic David versus Goliath story. But increasingly, that’s how McFerrin and his Dragons like it.

“We’re definitely David,” McFerrin said. “We’ve been underdogs all year. We’ve gotten used to it.”

Bryant Shirreffs, Jefferson’s quarterback who …

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Class AA scouting report

Class AA Title Game (2:30 p.m.)

Calhoun (14-0) vs. Jefferson (13-1)

Overview: Defending state champion Calhoun has a long history in the state final, winning one in 1952 and reaching now five consecutive and six of the last eight. The Yellow Jackets have won region every year since 2001 and have reached at least the quarterfinals nine of those 12 seasons. This is less familiar territory for Jefferson, a state finalist in only 1975 and ‘77 and who has reached the second round in 2003, and ‘07-09. In ‘08 and ‘09, the Dragons were started 11-0, before losing in the second round to Lovett and Buford, respectively.

Calhoun season: The Jackets are looking to complete their second unbeaten season since losing the 2010 final to Buford. They’ve outscored opponents by five touchdowns on average this season with four shutouts, including consecutive ones over Murray County (69-0), Armuchee (53-0) and Model (35-0).

Jefferson season: The Dragons started tentatively by losing 22-7 to …

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Finals in the Dome or semifinals in the Dome?

By S. Thomas Coleman
For the AJC

When it comes to the location for playing in the Georgia high school football finals, Carrollton head coach Rayvan Teague captures the thoughts of just about every other coach in the state.

“I don’t care if you’re playing in a cow pasture,” said Teague, who won a Class AAA state championship in 2000 as the head coach at Swainsboro. “It’s a real accomplishment for your program just to get there.”

Back then, the semifinals were played in the Georgia Dome, with the championships played at the home field of one of the finalists, as long as their stadium was large enough. But due to the huge crowds clamoring to see the finals, the Georgia High School Association’s executive committee voted five years ago to move the semifinals back to home stadiums and play the finals in the Georgia Dome.

“Everything I’ve heard has been positive for the most part,” GHSA executive director Ralph Swearngin said of the switch. “I think it has …

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Class A Private School Scouting Report

Class A Private School Title Game (2:30 p.m.) 

Prince Avenue Christian (11-2) vs. Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy (12-1) 

Overview: ELCA, the now three-time Region 5A champion, has been the odds on favorite to win the Class A state title from the start. The Chargers feature a ton of college football prospects, including lineman Isaac Rochelle (committed to Notre Dame) and runningback/linebacker Keyante Green (committed to Purdue). PAC is in the finals in just its eighth season of varsity football. 

ELCA season: The lone loss for the Chargers was to AAA Washington County (24-19) in the season opener, a game they led at halftime. ELCA was favored to win the state title last season, but was upset in the semifinals by region rival Landmark Christian, 14-7. The current group of seniors at ELCA is 45-7 in four seasons. 

PAC season: The Wolverines have advanced to the title game in spite of losing four key players — including the son of head coach Mark Farriba — prior to the …

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Class A Private School Preview

By S. Thomas Coleman
For the AJC

Supporters and fans of Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy are ecstatic about the Chargers advancing to the Class A private school championship game.

In fact, one fan in particular is so excited that he arrived early for the game. Uriah Paul Gess, the first child of ELCA head coach Jonathan Gess and his wife Dee, came bursting into the world on Wednesday, almost a week ahead of schedule. There is no truth to the rumor that he has already joined ELCA’s plentiful watch list of college football prospects.

“I don’t know about that. Just as long as when he plays, he plays hard,” Gess said. “I guess he wanted to be here to see the game, too. “

In the minds of many, ELCA’s advancement to the championship game has been an afterthought, as they have dominated opponents by an average score of 45-8. But that has not been the attitude within the Charger program, where the mantra all season has been to take one game at a time. Gess said the …

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Class AAAAA Preview

It has been a phenomenal and perhaps unprecedented season for Deshaun Watson.

The Gainesville quarterback enters Friday’s Class AAAAA championship game against Ware County with 3,707 yards passing, 1,356 yards rushing and a combined 69 touchdowns this season for the classification’s highest-scoring team. He has broken the state record for career touchdown passes (105) and needs just 17 yards to break the career passing yardage record of 9,062. And he’s just a junior.

“He just does a lot of things you can’t teach,” Gainesville coach Bruce Miller said. “You try to teach it, but he’s just got a lot of natural ability and calmness to make things happen. His ability to manage the game while he’s out there is just uncanny. You’re just glad he’s on your team.”

Now Watson and the Red Elephants are one victory away from the first state championship in school history. To take that final step, however, Gainesville will have to get past a Ware County team that in …

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Class AAAAA Scouting Report

Class AAAAA Title Game (8:30 p.m. Friday)

Ware County (13-1) vs. Gainesville (11-3)

Overview: The Ware County Gators are making their third appearance in a state championship game and their first since losing to Northside-Warner Robins 20-14 in the 2007 Class AAAA final. Ware County has not won a state championship, although Waycross High, which merged with Ware County in 1994, won four titles between 1960 and 1981. … The Gainesville Red Elephants are making their seventh appearance in the final. Gainesville has been to the semifinals or beyond 19 times, the most of any team in the state that has not won a championship.

Ware County season: Ware County lost to Class AAAAAA Coffee 21-14 in the opener and then won 13 consecutive games, earning its first region title since 2007 and ninth overall. The Gators’ 13 victories are a school record.

Gainesville season: Gainesville won seven consecutive games after a 32-30 loss to Class AAAAAA West Forsyth in the opener. However, the …

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