John McClellan’s high school playoff picks for this Friday. As Northwest Georgia’s impressive streak of state title bids ends, a look at who’ll make it to the high school football championships Dec. 13-14.

John McClellan’s high school playoff picks for this Friday. As Northwest Georgia’s impressive streak of state title bids ends, a look at who’ll make it to the high school football championships Dec. 13-14.

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By John McClellan
For Hometown Headlines

The streak began in the 2008 season. The Calhoun Yellow Jackets made it to the Class AA state championship game, where they lost to Buford for the title. The next 11 seasons saw at least one, usually two and—in 2018—four schools from the immediate Rome and northwest Georgia area reach at least the state semifinals. Rome, Calhoun and Cartersville combined for seven state championships during what increasingly became a dominant era for local high school football teams.

The string of success ended Friday night as the Cartersville Purple Hurricanes—the last local team still standing — saw its early lead vanish in a 31-28 heartbreaking quarterfinal loss to Woodward Academy. Also going down to defeat in Friday’s quarterfinals were Carrollton after a last-second field goal gave Buford a 24-21 win over the Trojans and North Murray in a 41-14 road loss to Jenkins.


 AROUND THE STATE

This week’s state semifinals still feature several teams with ties to northwest Georgia. Region 6-A champion Fellowship Christian, who defeated Darlington for the region title, remains alive in the Class A Private School ranks as does Sandy Creek, who finished second behind Cartersville in Region 5-AAAA, in the Class 4A playoffs. The Marietta Blue Devils, who opened the season in the Corky Kell Classic in Rome, are in the Class 7A semifinals, while the Allatoona Buccaneers, who have opened the season the past several years against Cartersville, are one of the four teams still in contention for the Class 6A title.

Semifinal games take place this week at school sites around the state. The state championship games are scheduled Friday and Saturday, Dec. 13 and 14, at Georgia State Stadium (the old Turner Field that has been converted from a baseball park to a football stadium) on Hank Aaron Drive in Atlanta, Here is a look at those games.

Class 7A

Marietta (11-2) at Parkview (12-1)

  • Series History: Tied 1-1
  • Last Meeting: Parkview defeated Marietta 20-14 on November 29, 1996 in the second round of the Class AAAA playoffs.
  • State Championship History: Marietta won the 1967 Class AAA championship; Parkview wonchampionships in Class AAAA in 1997 and Class AAAAA in 2000, 2001, 2002.
  • Marietta finished second in Region 3. The Blue Devils were 8-2 with wins over Rome, St. Joseph’s Prep (PA), Collins Hill, Edgewater (FL), North Paulding, North Cobb, Hillgrove, and Kennesaw Mountain and losses to Grayson and McEachern. Marietta defeated Camden County 41-13, Milton 38-24, and Mill Creek 42-10 in the playoffs.
  • Parkview won the Region 7 championship. The Panthers were 9-1 with wins over Mountain View, Tift County, Milton, Norcross, Lakeside, Berkmar, Brookwood, Meadowcreek, and Central Gwinnett and a loss to Lowndes. Parkview defeated West Forsyth 35-14, Colquitt County 40-21, and Archer 35-17 in the playoffs.
  • Marietta wins by 7. 

North Gwinnett (12-1) at Lowndes (13-0)

  • Series History; Lowndes leads 1-0
  • Last Meeting: Lowndes defeated North Gwinnett 34-6 on December 15, 2007 in the Class AAAAA state championship game.
  • State Championship History: North Gwinnett won the 2017 Class AAAAAAA championship; Lowndes won championships in Class AAAA in 1980 and 1999 and Class AAAAA in 2004, 2005, and 2007.
  •  North Gwinnett won the Region 6 championship. The Bulldogs were 9-1 with wins over Armwood (FL), Norcross, Walton, Discovery, Mountain View, Mill Creek, Collins Hill, Duluth, and Peachtree Ridge and a loss to Colquitt County. North Gwinnett defeated Shiloh 51-14, Walton 60-10, and McEachern 32-13 in the playoffs.
  •  Lowndes won the Region 1 championship. The Vikings were 10-0 with wins over Drew, Champagnet Catholic (FL), Parkview, East Coweta, Miami Northwestern (FL), Valdosta, ware County, Tift County, Camden County, and Colquitt County. Lowndes defeated Hillgrove 38-8, Norcross 44-14, and Grayson 28-20 in the playoffs.
  • Lowndes wins by 1.

 Class 6A

 Allatoona (10-2-1) at Richmond Hill (9-3)

  • Series History: First Meeting
  • State Championship History: Allatoona won the 2015 Class AAAA championship; Richmond Hill has never won a championship.
  • Allatoona finished second in Region 6. The Buccaneers were 7-2-1 with wins over Creekview, River Ridge, South Cobb, Sprayberry, Osborne, Dalton, and Sequoyah with losses to Cartersville and Harrison and a tie with Hapeville Charter. Allatoona defeated Gainesville 49-7, Stephenson 23-13, and Coffee 24-9 in the playoffs.
  • Richmond Hill won the Region 2 championship. The Wildcats were 6-3 with wins over Grovetown, Bluffton (SC), Brunswick, Glynn Academy, Bradwell Institute, and Effingham County and losses to Camden County, New Hampstead, and Liberty County. Richmond Hill defeated M.L. King 28-12, Lanier 48-34, and Valdosta 16-14 in the playoffs.
  • Allatoona wins by 8. 

Harrison (13-0) at Dacula (13-0)

  • Series History: First Meeting
  • State Championship History: Both teams are seeking their first championship.
  • Harrison won the Region 6 championship. The Hoyas were 10-0 with wins over Lassiter, Hiram, River Ridge, South Cobb, Sprayberry, Dalton, Allatoona, Osborne, Sequoyah, and Creekview. Harrison defeated Winder-Barrow 45-25, Brunswick 51-19, and Houston County 28-7 in the playoffs.
  • Dacula won the Region 8 championship. The Falcons were 10-0 with wins over Discovery, Mill Creek, Mountain View, Central Gwinnett, Rockdale County, Gainesville, Apalachee, Habersham Central, Lanier, and Winder-Barrow. Dacula defeated Dalton 49-18, Glynn Academy 42-20, and Lee County 56-21 in the playoffs.
  • Dacula wins by 10.

Class 5A 

Buford (12-1) at Jones County (12-1)

  • Series History: Buford leads 1-0
  • Last Meeting: Buford defeated Jones County 56-26 on November 18, 2016 in the second round of the Class AAAAA state playoffs.
  • State Championship History: Buford won championships in Class A in 1978 and 2001; Class AA in 2002, 2003, 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010; Class AAA in 2012 and 2013, and Class AAAA in 2014; Jones County has never won a state championship.
  • Buford finished second in Region 8. The Wolves were 9-1 with wins over Jonesboro, Milton, Life Christian Academy (VA), Newton, archer, Johnson of Gainesville, Cedar Shoals, Loganville, and Walnut Grove and a loss to Clarke Central. Buford defeated Decatur 43-6, Ware County 34-6, and Carrollton 24-21 in the playoffs.
  • Jones County won the Region 4 championship. The Greyhounds were 9-1 with wins over Howard, Baldwin, Northside of Warner Robins, Union Grove, Woodland of Stockbridge, Locust Grove, Dutchtown, Eagle’s Landing, and Ola and a loss to Stockbridge. Jones County defeated South Effingham 26-13, Cedar Shoals 17-6, and Griffin 49-14 in the playoffs.
  • Buford wins by 12.

Starr’s Mill (10-3) at Warner Robins (12-1)

  • Series History: Starr’s Mill leads 1-0
  • Last Meeting: Starr’s Mill defeated Warner Robins 21-7 on November 24, 2000 in the second round of the Class AAAAA state playoffs.
  • State Championship History: Starr’s Mill has never won a championship; Warner Robins won championships in Class AAA in 1976 and Class AAAA in 1981, 1988, and 2004.
  •  Starr’s Mill won the Region 3 championship. The Panthers were 7-3 with wins over Mount Zion of Jonesboro, Northgate, Griffin, Whitewater, McIntosh, Riverdale, and Fayette County and losses to Chapel Hill, Sandy Creek, and Jonesboro. Starr’s Mill defeated Harris County 28-7, Kell 45-28, and Dutchtown 25-24 in overtime in the playoffs.
  • Warner Robins won the Region 1 championship. The Demons were 9-1 with wins over Tift County, Locust Grove, Baldwin, Northside of Warner Robins, Houston County, Harris County, Thomas County Central, Bainbridge, and Veterans and a loss to Colquitt County. Warner Robins defeated Jonesboro 28-7, Rome 25-17, and Clarke Central 49-14 in the playoffs.
  • Warner Robins wins by 16.

Class 4A

Blessed Trinity(12-1) at Woodward Academy (13-0)

  • Series History: Blessed Trinity leads 3-1
  • Last Meeting: Woodward Academy defeated Blessed Trinity 13-10 on September 6, 2019.
  • State Championship History: Blessed Trinity won the Class AAAA championships in 2017 and 2018; Woodward Academy won championships in Class AA in 1970 and Class AAA in 1980.
  •  Blessed Trinity won the Region 7 championship. The Titans were 9-1 with wins over St. Pius X, South Forsyth, Benedictine, West Hall, Denmark, Flowery Branch, Chestatee, Marist, and White County and a loss to Woodward Academy. Blessed Trinity defeated Troup 40-14, Baldwin 35-3, and West Laurens 31-0 in the playoffs.
  • Woodward Academy won the Region 4 championship. The War Eagles were 10-0 with wins over Westminster, Grady, Blessed Trinity, McDonough, Druid Hills, Eastside, Hampton, Salem, North Clayton, and Luella. Woodward Academy defeated Upson-Lee 40-14, St. Pius X 38-0, and Cartersville 31-28 in the playoffs.
  • Blessed Trinity wins by 8. 

Sandy Creek (12-1) at Oconee County (12-1)

  • Series History: Tied 1-1
  • Last Meeting: Sandy Creek defeated Oconee County 17-6 on September 7, 2001.
  • State Championship History: Sandy Creek won Class AAAA championships in 2009, 2010, and 2012; Oconee County won the 1999 Class AAA championship.
  • Sandy Creek finished second in Region 5. The Fighting Patriots were 9-1 with wins over Whitewater, Hampton, Ridgeland, Starr’s Mill, Troup, Chapel Hill, LaGrange, Cedartown, and Central of Carrollton and a loss to Cartersville. Sandy Creek defeated Denmark 42-7, Americus-Sumter 56-7, and Madison County 41-7 in the playoffs.
  • Oconee County won the Region 8 championship. The Warriors were 9-1 with wins over Jefferson, Spalding, Morgan County, Cedar Shoals, Winder-Barrow, St. Pius X, Stephens County, North Oconee, and Madison County and a loss to Clarke Central. Oconee County defeated Northwest Whitfield 41-14, Perry 39-7, and Marist 17-7 in the playoffs.
  • Sandy Creek wins by 6.

Class 3A 

Greater Atlanta Christian School (12-1) at Cedar Grove (11-2)

  • Series History: Cedar Grove leads 1-0
  • Last Meeting: Cedar Grove defeated GACS 30-19 on December 9, 2016 in the Class AAA state championship game.
  • State Championship History: GACS has never won a championship; Cedar Grove won Class AAA championships in 2016 and 2018.
  •  GACS won the Region 7 championship. The Spartans were 9-1 with wins over Westminster, Prestonwood Christian (TX), Thomson, East Hall, North Hall, Dawson County, Lumpkin County, Cherokee Bluff, and Fannin County and a loss to Lovett. GACS defeated Pace Academy 35-14, Cook 38-0, and Hart County 17-16 in the playoffs.
  • Cedar Grove won the Region 5 championship. The Saints were 8-2 with wins over Hapeville Charter, Valor Christian (CO), Lovett, Redan, Towers, Westminster, Pace Academy, and Stone Mountain and losses to Central of Phenix City (AL) and McEachern. Cedar Grove defeated Fannin County 36-7, Benedictine 49-12, and Peach County 36-3 in the playoffs.
  • Cedar Grove wins by 21. 

Jenkins (12-1) at Crisp County (10-3)

  • Series History: First Meeting
  • State Championship History: Both teams are seeking their first championship.
  • Jenkins won the Region 3 championship. The Warriors were 9-1 with wins over New Hampstead, Savannah, Johnson of Savannah, Windsor Forest, Islands, Southeast Bulloch, Beach, Groves, and Benedictine and a loss to South Effingham. Jenkins defeated Adairsville 41-0, Dawson County 42-9, and North Murray 41-14 in the playoffs.
  •  Crisp County won the Region 1 championship. The Cougars were 7-3 with wins over Americus-Sumter, Tift County, South Gwinnett, Thomasville, Monroe, Worth County, and Cook and losses to West Laurens, Dutchtown, and Bainbridge. Crisp County defeated Southeast Bulloch 46-0, North Hall 41-3, and Jefferson 22-20 in the playoffs.
  • Crisp County wins by 3. 

Class 2A

 Brooks County (9-4) at Callaway (12-1)

  • Series History: Tied 1-1
  • Last Meeting: Brooks County defeated Callaway 31-0 on November 24, 2017 in the Class AA quarterfinals.
  • State Championship History: Brooks County won the 1994 Class A championship; Callaway has never won a championship.
  •  Brooks County finished second in Region 1. The Trojans were 6-4 with wins over Mitchell County, Thomas County Central, BEST Academy, Early County, Fitzgerald, and Berrien and losses to Clinch County, Bainbridge, Dublin, and Thomasville. Brooks County defeated Washington County 42-14, Rockmart 41-3, and Metter 35-6 in the playoffs.
  •  Callaway won the Region 5 championship. The Cavaliers were 9-1 with wins over LaGrange, Cross Keys, Troup, Temple, Bremen, Lamar County, Spencer, Heard County, and Jordan and a loss to Alabama Class 6A state finalist Opelika. Callaway defeated Chattooga 54-7, Fitzgerald 50-31, and Douglass 41-20 in the playoffs.
  • Callaway wins by 3.

Dublin (12-1) at Thomasville (9-4)

  • Series History: Tied 4-4
  • Last Meeting: Dublin defeated Thomasville 23-7 on November 16, 2018 in the second round of the Class AA playoffs.
  • State Championship History: Dublin won state championships in Class A in 1959, 1960, and 1963 and Class AA in 2006; Thomasville won championships in Class AA in 1958 and Class AAA in 1973, 1974, and 1988.
  • Dublin won the Region 3 championship. The Fighting Irish were 9-1 with wins over Emanuel County Institute, Swainsboro, Brooks County, East Laurens, Bleckley County, Dodge County, Southwest, Northeast, and Suwanee (FL) and a loss to Washington County. Dublin defeated Early County 32-9, Bremen 45-26, and Hapeville Charter 35-12 in the playoffs.
  • Thomasville won the Region 1 championship. The Bulldogs were 6-4 with wins over Everglades (FL), Cook, Brooks County, Fitzgerald, Berrien, and Early County and losses to Cairo, Thomas County Central, Colquitt County, and Crisp County. Thomasville defeated Dodge County 31-26, Pepperell 58-14, and Rabun County 38-24 in the playoffs.
  • Dublin wins by 11.

Class A Private

 Wesleyan (10-2) at Fellowship Christian (12-0)

  • Series History: Wesleyan leads 2-0
  • Last Meeting: Wesleyan defeated Fellowship Christian 14-7 on September 23, 2011.
  • State Championship History: Wesleyan won the 2008 Class A championship; Fellowship has never won a championship.
  • Wesleyan finished third in Region 5. The Wolves were 8-2 with wins over Meadowcreek, Chattooga, Prince Avenue Christian, Our Lady of Mercy, Mount Vernon Presbyterian, Landmark Christian, Strong Rock Christian, and Trinity Christian and losses to Holy Innocents and Eagles Landing Christian. Wesleyan defeated First Presbyterian 35-26, Christian Heritage 34-13, and Savannah Christian 42-16 in the playoffs.
  • Fellowship Christian won the Region 6 championship. The Paladins were 10-0 with wins over North Springs, Pinecrest Academy, Walker, Stratford Academy, Mount Paran Christian, St. Francis, King’s Ridge Christian, Mount Pisgah Christian, Whitefield Academy, and Darlington. Fellowship Christian defeated North Cobb Christian 14-0 and Hebron Christian 35-28 in the playoffs.
  • Fellowship Christian wins by 2. 

Eagles Landing Christian Academy (11-1) at Holy Innocents Episcopal School (12-0)

  • Series History: ELCA leads 7-2
  • Last Meeting: Holy Innocents defeated ELCA 42-41 on September 20, 2019.
  • State Championship History: ELCA won the GISA Class A championship in 1996 GHSA Class A Private School championships in 2012, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018; Holy Innocents has never won a championship.
  •  ELCA finished second in Region 5. The Chargers were 9-1 with wins over Morrow, Pace Academy, Heritage of Conyers, Trinity Christian, Wesleyan, Our Lady of Mercy, Strong Rock Christian, Mount Vernon Presbyterian, and Landmark Christian and a loss to Holy Innocents. ELCA defeated Prince Avenue Christian 62-57 and Athens Academy 28-10 in the playoffs.
  • Holy Innocents won the Region 5 championship. The Golden Bears were 10-0 with wins over Mount Pisgah Christian, Hebron Christian, Rutland, ELCA, Wesleyan, Mount Vernon Presbyterian, Strong Rock Christian, Trinity Christian, Landmark Christian, and Our Lady of Mercy. Holy Innocents defeated St. Francis 42-3 and Mount Paran Christian 28-0 in the playoffs.
  • Eagles Landing Christian wins by 22. 

Class A Public 

Clinch County (11-1) at Irwin County (11-0)

  • Series History: Irwin County leads 23-22-1
  • Last Meeting: Irwin County defeated Clinch County 14-0 on September 20, 2019.
  • State Championship History: Irwin County won the 1975 Class A championship; Clinch County won Class A championships in 1988, 1991, 2002, 2004, and 2010 and Class A Public School championships in 2015, 2017, and 2018.
  •  Irwin County won the Region 2 championship. The Indians were 9-0 with wins over Berrien, Fitzgerald, Clinch County, Telfair County, Charlton County, Lincoln County, Wilcox County, Atkinson County, and Turner County. Irwin County defeated Chattahoochee County 47-22 and Manchester 54-12 in the playoffs.
  • Clinch County finished second in Region 2. The Panthers were 9-1 with wins over Hebron Christian, Brooks County, Dooly County, Wilcox County, Atkinson County, Turner County, Lanier County, Charlton County, and Telfair County and a loss to Irwin County. Clinch County defeated Emanuel County Institute 44-21 and Warren County 38-16 in the playoffs.
  • Irwin County wins by 16. 

Pelham (11-1) at Marion County (10-2)

  • Series History: Marion County leads 2-0
  • Last Meeting: Marion County defeated Pelham 33-7 on August 28, 2009.
  • State Championship History: Pelham has never won a championship; Marion County won the 2013 Class A Public School championship.
  • Pelham finished second in Region 1. The Hornets were 9-1 with wins over Macon County, Baconton Charter, Randolph-Clay, Terrell County, Miller County, Stewart County, Chattahoochee County, Calhoun County, and Seminole County and a loss to Mitchell County. Pelham defeated Wilcox County 41-36 and Mitchell County 31-20 in the playoffs.
  • Marion County won the Region 4 championship. The Eagles were 8-2 with wins over Schley County, Chattahoochee County, Pacelli, Greenville, Brookstone, Central of Talbotton, Taylor County, and Macon County and losses to Bleckley County and Manchester. Marion County defeated Schley County 35-27 and Lincoln County 28-21 in the playoffs.
  • Pelham wins by 12.
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