The first three Georgia football state champions were crowned today over three of the classifications. New to Georgia this season in class 1A the public and private held separate state championships with the private championship game being held on Friday and the public on Saturday.
In Class 5A Gainesville (12-3) defeated Ware County 49-13 to win the schools first ever state championship. Gainesville put their potent offense on display from the beginning to jump on Ware County 28-0 into the second quarter after two Deshaun Watson touchdown passes and a touchdown run with a Fred Payne scoop and score throw in there . To top it off quarterback Deshaun Watson became the all-time leading passer in Georgia High School football history. Watson put up a banner night overall passing for 318 yards with three touchdown passes and rushed for 86 yards and a touchdown. For his career Watson a junior, has passed for over 9,600 yards with 108 touchdowns and he’s only a junior. Caleb Hayman caught two of Watson’s three touchdown passes while sophomore Rodney Lackey caught the other.
Fred Payne stepped up in a major way for the Gainesville defense. In addition to his fumble recovery for a touchdown he had some major hits and returned and interception 70-yards in the second half to set up another Gainesville touchdown when Watson went in from a yard out to give Gainesville a 35-7 advantage. Running back Michael Byrd also added a touchdown run for the Red Elephants.
Xavier Tolber scored both Ware County touchdowns on a pair of two-yard touchdown runs. Ware County (13-2) had not given up more than 24 points in a game all season yet yielded 28 in the first half and 49 for the game against Gainesville.
In Class 3A the Buford Wolves (12-3) were making their sixth consecutive championship game appearance and first ever in class 3A . The Wolves defeated St. Pius (12-3) 10-3 to win their fifth state championship in six years. Locked in a defensive struggle the Wolves’ leading rusher Dontravious Wilson ran 39-yards for a touchdown on a fourth-down and one with 9:10 remaining in the game to give Buford the 10-3 advantage. It was the third Buford touchdown in consecutive weeks coming on a fourth-down and this won would ultimately win the game for the Wolves. Both teams were held under 200 yards of total offense with Buford getting the slight edge 186 to 180.
In Class 1A Private Eagles Landing Christian Academy (13-1) broke open a 7-0 game at halftime into a 33-0 rout over Prince Avenue Christian School (11-3). Eagles Landing standout running back Keyante Green rushed for 109 yards and two touchdowns for the Chargers. DJ Curl, Brad Moore and Dalton Etheridge also added touchdown runs for Eagles Landing who racked up 328 total yards of offense in the game. Eagles Landing’s defense held Prince Avenue’s Wing-T offense to only 134 yards of total offense. Eagles Landing goes down as the first-ever private school champion in the state of Georgia. Prince Avenue started playing football in 2006 and made their first-ever appearance is a state championship game.
The Georgia High School football championships resume on Saturday at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, GA with the 1A-Public, 2A, 4A and 6A titles begin decided. The action starts at 11:30am EST with the 1A Public game between Dooly County and ECI. Jefferson vs Calhoun follow in the 2A game followed by the 4A game between Sandy Creek and Ridgeland with the 6A game between Lovejoy and Norcross in the nightcap.