Prelude: Before we start John McClellan’s 19th and final high school football column for the season, we want to thank him for the incredible research and detail again this season. John’s first column of the year was posted in late July; today’s picks for the high school championships wrap up the 2018 season.
Defending state champions Rome and Calhoun lost their bids to repeat on Friday night with both teams going down to defeat in the semifinals to teams they had beaten a year ago to win their respective titles. The Rome Wolves lost 45-28 on the road at Warner Robins in a game closer than the final score indicates. The Calhoun Yellow Jackets could never get their offense going in a 23-7 loss to Peach County.
The Cartersville Purple Hurricanes and Rockmart Yellow Jackets are the final Northwest Georgia teams still alive in the playoffs. Cartersville, which defeated Marist, will face Blessed Trinity for the Class AAAA championship. Rockmart, which won over Callaway, will meet Heard County for the Class AA crown.
Schools will have to wait a few more days than expected for the championship games after Atlanta United’s soccer success forced the postponement of games at Mercedes Benz from Dec. 7 and 8 to Dec. 11 and 12.
All games will be broadcast live on GPB.
Wednesday, Dec. 12, 1 p.m.
Heard County (12-2) v. Rockmart (14-0)
- Series History: Rockmart leads 2-0
- Last Meeting: Rockmart defeated Heard County 33-0 on September 7, 2018.
- How Heard County Got Here: Heard County won the Region 5-AA championship. The Braves began the year by defeating LaGrange 10-3 followed by losses to Hapeville Charter 33-3 and Rockmart 33-0. Heard County won seven straight regular season games over Central of Carrollton 45-0, Spencer 28-12, Temple 41-14, Jordan 58-6, Callaway 13-10, Lamar County 40-14, and Bremen 20-7. The Braves have playoff wins over Monticello 63-22, Douglass 27-6, Dublin 18-3, and Fitzgerald 38-30.
- How Rockmart Got Here: Rockmart won the Region 7-AA championship. The Yellow Jackets went undefeated in the regular season with wins over Cedartown 20-14, Central of Carrollton 51-7, Heard County 33-0, Armuchee 62-13, Dade County 48-0, Chattooga 56-0, Pepperell 40-10, Coosa 42-0, Gordon Central 62-11, and Model 61-6. Rockmart has playoff wins over South Atlanta 55-0, Bremen 35-23, Jefferson County 48-13, and Callaway 28-22.
- The Heard County Braves, after stumbling early, pulled off upset wins over Callaway and Bremen to finish first in Region 5-AA. The Rockmart Yellow Jackets dominated play in Region 7-AA on their way to their first perfect regular season since 1989. The two teams met on a stormy night in early September in which Rockmart jumped out to a 33-0 halftime lead before a lengthy lightning delay. Heard County eventually opted not to play the second half and accepted the intermission score as final. Rockmart wins by 5.
Wednesday, Dec. 12, 4:30 p.m.
Cartersville (14-0) v. Blessed Trinity (14-0)
- Series History: Tied 1-1
- Last Meeting: Blessed Trinity defeated Cartersville 21-17 on November 17, 2017 in the second round of the Class AAAA playoffs.
- How Cartersville Got Here: Cartersville won the Region 5-AAAA championship. The Purple Hurricanes extended the state’s longest current regular season winning streak by defeating Allatoona 35-0, Luella 55-3, McNair 70-0, Cherokee 28-10, Cedartown 21-20, Central of Carrollton 45-10, LaGrange 45-7, Sandy Creek 7-0, Chapel Hill 51-0, and Troup 43-10. Cartersville has playoff wins over Stephens County 34-7, Ridgeland 41-7, Baldwin 42-13, and Marist 17-14.
- How Blessed Trinity Got Here: Blessed Trinity won the Region 7-AAAA championship. The Titans were undefeated with wins over St. Pius X 35-13, South Forsyth 35-6, Woodward Academy 43-21, Benedictine 38-7, West Hall 45-3, Denmark 47-6, Flowery Branch 21-20, Chestatee 42-0, Marist 10-7, and White County 42-7. Blessed Trinity has playoff wins over Northwest Whitfield 55-16, North Oconee 35-10, Eastside 42-15, and Troup 51-35.
- This is a rematch of a 2017 second round playoff game in which Blessed Trinity stunned a Trevor Lawrence-led Cartersville team by upsetting the Purple Hurricanes on their way to the Class AAAA state championship. Both teams were undefeated in the 2018 regular season with most of their wins coming by large margins. Cartersville wins by 4.
Class A Public
Tuesday, Dec. 11, 10 a.m.
Irwin County (13-0) v. Clinch County (12-1)
- Series History: Irwin County leads 22-21-1
- Last Meeting: Irwin County defeated Clinch County 21-3 on September 14, 2018.
- How Irwin County Got Here: Irwin County won the Region 2-A championship. The Indians were undefeated with wins over Berrien 41-7, Fitzgerald 16-10, Mount Paran Christian 40-20, Clinch County 21-3, Telfair County 54-0, Charlton County 46-20, Lanier County 51-0, Wilcox County 48-0, Atkinson County 63-6, and Turner County 48-14. Irwin County has playoff wins over Miller County 41-0, Commerce 26-23, and Pelham 23-6.
- How Clinch County Got Here: Clinch County, who defeated Irwin County a year ago in the Class A Public School state championship game, finished second in Region 2-A. The Panthers defeated Hebron Christian Academy 24-17, Brooks County 37-7, and Dooly County 40-6 before losing to Irwin County 21-3. Clinch County then defeated Wilcox County 36-12, Atkinson County 48-28, Turner County 41-12, Lanier County 55-8, Charlton County 40-14, and Telfair County 42-9. The Panthers have playoff wins over Charlton County 38-14, Mt. Zion 35-7, and Marion County 31-23.
- Irwin County wins by 2.
Tuesday, Dec. 11, 1 p.m.
Cedar Grove (13-1) v. Peach County (12-2)
- Series History: First Meeting
- How Cedar Grove Got Here: Cedar Grove won the Region 5-AAA championship. The Saints opened with wins over Summerville (S.C.) 21-7, Hewitt-Trussville (Ala.) 34-30, and Columbia 45-0 before losing to McEachern 24-17. Cedar Grove then defeated Lovett 45-0, Redan 52-0, Towers 80-0, Westminster 30-3, Pace Academy 40-13, and Stone Mountain 71-0. The Saints have playoff wins over Hart County 49-0, North Hall 49-33, Benedictine 55-0, and Pierce County 30-6.
- How Peach County Got Here: Peach County won the Region 4-AAA championship. The Trojans opened with a win over Northside of Warner Robins 27-24, a loss to Lee County 33-0, a win over Houston County 49-14, and a loss to Mary Persons 35-21. Peach County then defeated Kendrick 49-0, Pike County 42-6, Rutland 73-14, Central of Macon 50-8, Jackson 42-3, and Westside of Macon 28-12. The Trojans have playoff wins over Ringgold 48-7, Liberty County 41-8, Westminster 21-3, and Calhoun 23-7.
- Cedar Grove wins by 9.
Tuesday, Dec. 11, 4:30 p.m.
Bainbridge (9-5) v. Warner Robins (12-2)
- Series History: Warner Robins leads 4-1
- Last Meeting: Warner Robins defeated Bainbridge 38-0 on October 19, 2018.
- How Bainbridge Got Here: Bainbridge finished second in Region 1-AAAAA. The Bearcats opened with wins over Seminole County 35-0 and Cairo 15-7 followed by losses to Lincoln (Fla.) 28-6, Brooks County 15-13, Crisp County 23-0, and Tift County 31-14. Bainbridge went 3-1 in region play with a win over Veterans 27-14, a loss to Warner Robins 38-0, and wins over Harris County 49-0 and Thomas County Central 44-11. The Bearcats have playoff wins over Jones County 40-13, Wayne County 26-19, Buford 23-20, and Stockbridge 20-19.
- How Warner Robins Got Here: Warner Robins was the Region 1-AAAAA champion. The Demons opened with wins over Tift County 40-29, Locust Grove 50-40, and Baldwin 48-14 followed by a loss to Colquitt County 41-14 and a win over Northside of Warner Robins 39-34. Warner Robins went 3-1 in region play with a forfeit loss to Harris County followed by wins over Thomas County Central 42-10, Bainbridge 38-0, and Veterans 28-0. The Demons have playoff wins over Locust Grove 27-7, Ware County 35-0, Clarke Central 21-14, and Rome 45-28.
- Warner Robins wins by 13.
Tuesday, Dec. 11, 8 p.m.
Northside of Warner Robins (9-5) v. Lee County (14-0)
- Series History: Northside leads 4-2
- Last Meeting: Lee County defeated Northside 24-7 on October 13, 2018
- How Northside Got Here: Northside finished third in Region 1-AAAAAA. The Eagles opened with a win over Centennial 38-14 followed by losses to Peach County 27-24 and Jones County 35-27, wins over Whitewater 41-3 and Baldwin 45-0, and a loss to Warner Robins 39-34. Northside went 2-2 in region play with a win over Coffee 30-20, losses to Lee County 24-7 and Valdosta 46-44, and a win over Houston County 41-6. The Eagles have playoff wins over Tucker 43-21, Bradwell Institute 35-0, Sequoyah 30-6, and Dacula 14-7.
- How Lee County Got Here: Lee County was the unbeaten Region 1-AAAAAA champion. The Trojans defeated Dougherty 47-6, Dr. Phillips (Fla.) 35-3, Peach County 33-0, Americus-Sumter 49-7, Southwest of Macon 50-0, Thomson 40-0, Northside of Warner Robins 24-7, Valdosta 63-7, Houston County 45-0, and Coffee 38-7. Lee County has playoff wins over Mundy’s Mill 48-13, Effingham County 54-0, Creekview 42-20, and Lanier 42-7.
- Lee County wins by 14.
Class A Private
Wednesday, Dec. 12, 10 a.m.
Athens Academy (13-0) v. Eagles Landing Christian Academy (12-1)
- Series History: ELCA leads 2-0
- Last Meeting: ELCA defeated Athens Academy 41-3 on December 8, 2017 in the Class A Private School state championship game.
- How Athens Academy Got Here: Athens Academy won the Region 8-A championship. The Spartans defeated Savannah Christian 20-7, Stephens County 28-7, Cherokee Bluff 35-14, Towns County 46-8, Prince Avenue Christian 31-27, George Walton Academy 35-28, Athens Christian 50-7, Providence Christian 40-21, Hebron Christian Academy 22-20, and Commerce 21-14. Athens Academy has playoff wins over Mount Vernon Presbyterian 27-13, Calvary Day 25-19, and Prince Avenue Christian 28-21.
- How ELCA Got Here: ELCA won the Region 5-A championship. The Chargers defeated Morrow 63-0 followed by a loss to Pace Academy 17-16 and a win over Heritage of Conyers 56-0. ELCA won region games over Holy Innocents 48-14, Trinity Christian 61-0, Wesleyan 63-0, Our Lady of Mercy 77-3, Strong Rock Christian 52-7, Mount Vernon Presbyterian 42-21, and Landmark Christian 77-0. The Chargers have playoff wins over Trinity Christian 48-14, Darlington 42-6, and Savannah Christian 70-21.
- Eagles Landing Christian Academy wins by 32.
Wednesday, Dec. 12, 8 p.m.
Milton (12-2) v. Colquitt County (14-0)
- Series History: Colquitt County leads 1-0
- Last Meeting: Colquitt County defeated Milton 42-35 on November 28, 2014 in the Class AAAAAA quarterfinals.
- How Milton Got Here: Milton won the Region 5-AAAAAAA championship. The Eagles defeated Archer 21-19, Alpharetta 37-27, and Cardinal Gibbons (Fla.) followed by losses to Roswell 22-20 and Parkview 37-35. Milton won region games over West Forsyth 41-0, South Forsyth 35-21, Forsyth Central 30-3, Lambert 57-7, and North Forsyth 49-23. The Eagles have playoff wins over South Gwinnett 28-19, Mill Creek 24-3, Hillgrove 20-19, and Lowndes 28-17.
- How Colquitt County Got Here: Colquitt County won the Region 1-AAAAAAA championship. The Packers defeated McEachern 41-7, Trinity Catholic (Mo.) 42-14, Thomasville 50-3, Valdosta 48-13, Warner Robins 41-14, Grayson 26-14, Alcovy 56-0, Camden County 38-9, Tift County 45-7, and Lowndes 40-6. Colquitt County has playoff wins over Etowah 34-5, McEachern 49-29, North Gwinnett 45-0, and Archer 22-21.
- Colquitt County wins by 19.
The historical data used in the predictions throughout the 2018 season is compiled by the Georgia High School Football Historians Association and can be found at www.ghsfha.org.