The eight GHSA (Georgia High School Association) classifications crowned the 2019 football champions this past weekend. Georgia State Stadium hosted the championships for the first time ever as the GHSA made the decision to move the championship games from Mercedes-Benz Stadium to Georgia State Stadium prior to the season beginning due to cost. Prior to Mercedes-Benz Stadium the GHSA held the state championships at the now demolished Georgia Dome.
Here is a brief look at the eight championship games and the 2019 champs beginning with the 7A Classification which featured two teams currently ranked in the Max Preps Xcellent Top 25 as 9th ranked Lowndes took on 18th ranked Marietta.
18th Marietta (13-2) jumped out a to 17-0 lead on a pair of touchdown runs by Kimani Vidal and a field goal from Cooper Kipp in the first half that held up for a 17-9 victory over ninth-ranked Lowndes. Harrison Bailey passed for 271 yards and Arik Gilbert had 146 yards receiving on 11 receptions for Marietta. Ferringhetti Brown caught a touchdown pass and Jose Palcios had a field goal for Lowndes. Marietta won it’s first state championship in football since 1967 and did it in Richard Morgan’s fourth season as head coach.
Marietta will play Eastside Catholic (WA) as a part in the GEICO State Champions Bowl Series this weekend in Las Vegas. Eastside Catholic went 12-1 this season and won the 3A WIAA state championship this season.
Georgia teams are 0-2 in the event since its inception in 2016. Lee County lost to St. Frances Acacemy (MD) in 2018 and Valdosta lost to Chandler (AZ) in 2016.
Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy (13-1) defeated Wesleyan (12-3) 33-13 to win a state record fifth consecutive state championship. Wesleyan led 6-0 at the half after a pair of Javy Martinez field goals. Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy scored 27 unanswered points in the third quarter on three rushing touchdowns from Keaton Mitchell and one by Josh Rogers to take command of the game. Mitchell finished with 192 yards on 19 carries and 4 touchdowns. Rogers had 132 yards on none carries and a touchdown while Gabe Wright rushed for 113 yards on eight carries.
Dublin (14-1) and Brooks County (10-5) exchanged heavyweight blow after blow in the second half of a thrilling championship game. Brooks County, who lost to Dublin in the regular season, led 14-9 at halftime after a stellar goal line stand at the end of the second quarter. In the second half however Dublin outscored Brooks County 33-18 on it’s way to victory. Mark Mitchell scored the go-ahead touchdown for Dublin on a two-yard run for a 21-20 lead with 2:07 left in the third.
Dublin never trailed again however had to pull away from Brooks County twice. Brooks County pulled to within 28-26 on a 65-yard touchdown run by Omari Arnold. Mitchell answered with a 55-yard touchdown run to extend Dublin’s lead to 35-26. After another Arnold rushing touchdown run from Brooks County made it 35-32, Zion Kemp scored the game-sealing touchdown with 1:51 remaining for the final 42-32 Dublin win.
Dublin rushed for 437 yards and did not attempt a pass in the contest. Jaques Evans led the Fighting Irish rushing attack with 188 yards an a touchdown while Mitchell (94 yards) and Kemp (86 yards) each rushed for two touchdowns. Omari Arnold finished with 103 yards rushing on 10 carries and three touchdowns for Brooks County.
No matter who won, a 16th state championship between the two school was going to be won. Until the closing moments it looked as though Warner Robins (13-2) would claim it however Buford had other plans. Trailing 14-7 with 4:59 left in the fourth quarter, Buford capped a 14-play 78-yard drive with an Ashton Daniels to Jamarius Issac 22-yard touchdown pass with 27 seconds to tie it up. Warner Robins would get a chance to win the game in regulation but Cary Payne missed a 50-yard field goal as time expired.
In overtime and Issac came up big again intercepting Warner Robins’ Jalen Addie’s pass on their opening possession. Moments later Hayden Olsen hit the game-winning field goal from 24 yards out for the 17-14 Buford (14-1) win. Buford head coach Bryant Appling wins the schools 12th title in his first season as the head coach. Buford has now won state titles in five different classifications (A, AA, AAA, AAAA, AAAAA). Buford moves up to class 6A next season.
Addie rushed for 125 yards and a touchdown and Ahmad Walker added a rushing touchdown for Warner Robins. Gabe Ervin finished with 73 yards and a touchdown rushing for Buford.
Harrison (15-0) swept the season series against region foe Allatoona (11-3-1) with a 20-7 victory to win it’s first state championship in school history. Leading 13-7 in the third quarter Harrison’s Brandon Carter returned an interception 31 yards to the Allatoona two. On the next play Gavin Hall scored on a two-yard touchdown run for the final 20-7 margin.
Hall passed for 122 yards and a touchdown and an interception to go with 28 yards rushing and a touchdown. James Ziglor finished with 88 yard receiving including a 49-yard touchdown reception that gave Harrison a 10-0 lead in the second quarter.
Alex Wilson rushed for 122 yards for Allatoona. Marshall rushed for 45 yards and passed for 39 yards a touchdown and an interception. Receiver Ashante Das had all 39 yards and a touchdown receiving. Allatoona was denied of it’s second state title in history and first since 2015.
Class 1A Public:
Marion County (11-3) vs Irwin County (13-0) won its first stat title since 1975 with a 56-14 victory over Marion County (11-3). Irwin County outscored Marion County 28-0 in the second half but it was the 21-0 unanswered points, all off of Marion County turnovers, in the third quarter that blew open the game.
DJ Lundy rushed for 174 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries, Gabriel Benyard rushed for 96 yards and two touchdowns and Jamorri Colston rushed for 84 yards and a touchdown for Irwin County. Irwin County quarterback Zack Smith tallied a rushing and passing touchdown for the Indians in the victory.
Marion County quarterback Trice McCannon rushed for 135 yards and touchdown and passed for 92 yards and touchdown before leaving the game early due to injury.
Cedar Grove (13-2) won its third state title in four years with a 21-14 victory over Crisp County. The Saints win the title under first-year head coach Miguel Patrick. Chavon Wright rushed for 140 yards and two touchdowns while Austin Smith passed for 64 yards and touchdown for Cedar Grove. Cedar grove led by 14 points on two different times in the contest. Crisp County’s final touchdown came on a blocked punt return by Latravious Walker. in the closing minutes for the final 21-14 margin. Crisp County was held to 161 yards of total offense. Marquise Palmer finished with 64 yards rushing and a touchdown for the Cougars.
Blessed Trinity (14-1) won it;s third consecutive championship with a 17-14 victory over Oconee County (13-2). Elijah Green rushed for 208 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries to lead Blessed Trinity’s attack. Blessed Trinity trailed 7-3 late in the second quarter when Green ripped off back-to-back touchdown runs of 30 and 66 yards to give Blessed Trinity the 17-7 advantage at halftime.
Max Johnson passed for 97 yards and two touchdowns for Oconee County who was seeking it’s first state title since 1999.