By John McClellan
For Hometown Headlines
Northwest Georgia football will be on display Friday afternoon as Mercedes Benz Stadium makes its debut as the host site for the 2017 Georgia High School Association state football championships. Calhoun will battle Peach County at 1 with Rome playing Warner Robins at 4:30 p.m.
Class 5A—Friday at 4:30 p.m.
Warner Robins (14-0) v. Rome (14-0)
- Series History: Warner Robins leads 1-0
- Last Meeting: Warner Robins defeated Rome 35-32 on November 19, 2004 in the Class AAAA state quarterfinals.
- Team History: Warner Robins High School opened in 1953. Its overall record is 507-225-11. The Demons won state championships in Class AAA in 1976 and in Class AAAA in 1981, 1988, and 2004. Rome High School opened in 1992. Its overall record is 206-94-1. The Wolves won the 2016 Class AAAAA state championship.
- How Warner Robins Got Here: Warner Robins defeated Northside of Warner Robins 28-17, Locust Grove 20-3, Peach County 38-35, Houston County 38-21, West Laurens 31-9, Coffee 52-49, Thomas County Central 30-28, Harris County 34-8, Veterans 56-17, and Bainbridge 35-6. The Demons have playoff wins over South Effingham 30-17, Eagle’s Landing in overtime 26-23, Carrollton 63-24, and Carver of Atlanta 31-7.
- The unbeaten Warner Robins Demons, who were 3-7 a year ago, broke open a close game in the second half to defeat Carver 31-7 and move into the state finals. The undefeated and top ranked Rome Wolves dominated every aspect of the game in a 45-7 win over second ranked Buford. This is the first time the schools have met since 2004 when Warner Robins held off an unbeaten Rome team in the quarterfinals on its way to its last state championship.
- Prediction: Rome wins by 28.
Class 3A—Friday at 1 p.m.
- Calhoun (13-1) v. Peach County (13-1)
- Series History: Calhoun leads 1-0
- Last Meeting: Calhoun defeated Peach County 20-14 in overtime on November 20, 2015 in the second round of the Class AAA state playoffs.
- Team History: Calhoun High School started playing football in 1925. Its overall record is 480-360-27. The Yellow Jackets won state championships in Class C in 1952, Class AA in 2011, and Class AAA in 2014. Peach County High School opened in 1970. Its overall record is 389-170-6. The Trojans won Class AAA state championships in 2005, 2006, and 2009.
- How They Got Here: Calhoun defeated Douglass 17-14 and Dalton 24-0 before losing to Cartersville 58-6. The Yellow Jackets then defeated Coahulla Creek 62-6, North Murray 40-13, Haralson County 41-10, Adairsville 42-16, Sonoraville 41-3, Bremen 48-0, and Murray County 65-23. Calhoun has playoff wins over Pace Academy 27-3, Monroe Area 28-20, Liberty County 31-7, and Cedar Grove 14-6. Peach County opened the season with a win over Houston County 44-14 and a loss to Warner Robins 38-35. The Trojans then defeated Perry 47-19, Mary Persons 35-14, Westside of Macon 35-7, Central of Macon 44-0, Rutland 65-7, Kendrick 82-0, Pike County 46-21, and Jackson 52-7. Peach County has playoff wins over Savannah 45-0, Pierce County 34-14, Westminster 45-15, and Greater Atlanta Christian 28-23.
- The Calhoun Yellow Jackets pulled off the biggest upset of the weekend by defeating top ranked and defending state champion Cedar Grove 14-6. The Peach County Trojans, whose only loss came by three points to Class 5A finalist Warner Robins, came from behind to beat Number 1 ranked Greater Atlanta Christian 28-23. The Yellow Jackets may be a team of destiny in 2017.
- Prediction: Calhoun wins by 9.
Class A Private—Friday at 10 a.m.
Athens Academy (13-0) v. Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy (13-0)
- Series History: ELCA leads 1-0
- Last Meeting: ELCA defeated Athens Academy 23-18 on November 13, 2009 in the second round of the Class A state playoffs.
- School History: Athens Academy started playing football in 1977. Its overall record is 290-146-5. The Spartans are seeking their first state championship. ELCA began playing football in 1994. Its overall record is 187-99-1. The Chargers won a Georgia Independent Schools Association state championship in 1996 and GHSA Class A Private School state championships in 2012, 2015, and 2016.
- How They Got Here: Athens Academy defeated Walker 42-7, Lakeview Academy 48-0, Athens Christian 47-0, Towns County 53-13, Riverside Military Academy 40-20, Hebron Christian Academy 49-14, Providence Christian 48-0, George Walton Academy 36-3, Commerce 22-7, and Prince Avenue Christian 32-14. The Spartans have playoff wins over First Presbyterian 56-7, Savannah Country Day 38-14, and Mt. Paran Christian 14-7. ELCA defeated Eagle’s Landing High School 21-14, Jonesboro 35-7, Knoxville Catholic (Tenn.) 55-10, Hart County 49-19, Wesleyan 45-6, Our Lady of Mercy 76-6, Strong Rock Christian 54-0, Mt. Vernon Presbyterian 70-0, and Landmark Christian 69-7. The Chargers have playoff wins over Savannah Christian 54-0, Calvary Day 55-0, and Prince Avenue Christian 55-0.
- Prediction: Eagles Landing Christian Academy wins by 27.
Class 6A—Friday at 8 p.m.
Coffee (10-3) v. Lee County (13-1)
- Series History: Coffee leads 4-2
- Last Meeting: Lee County defeated Coffee 23-7 on November 3, 2017
- School History: Coffee High School opened in 1970. Its overall record is 286-224-6. Lee County High School opened in 1971. Its overall record is 184-291-7. Neither school has won a state championship.
- How They Got Here: Coffee defeated Effingham County 35-20, Brunswick 30-13, and Ware County 21-14 before losing to Tift County 33-31 and Warner Robins 52-49. The Trojans then defeated Houston County 35-0, Northside of Warner Robins 14-12, and Valdosta 37-14 before losing to Lee County 23-7. Coffee has playoff wins over Effingham County 52-32, Evans 55-21, Alpharetta 28-14, and Tucker 14-3. Lee County defeated Mary Persons 21-17, Bainbridge 38-13, Hardaway 47-6, Americus-Sumter 49-14, Luella 57-7, Thomas County Central 49-0, Houston County 34-0, and Northside of Warner Robins in overtime 16-13 before losing to Valdosta 31-28 and defeating Coffee 23-7. The Trojans have playoff wins over Richmond Hill 29-21, Grovetown 38-6, Mays 34-14, and Glynn Academy 42-38.
- Prediction: Lee County wins by 1.
Class A Public—Saturday at 10 a.m.
Clinch County (11-2) v. Irwin County (12-1)
- Series History: Irwin County leads 21-20-1
- Last Meeting: Irwin County defeated Clinch County 21-7 on September 15, 2017
- School History: Clinch County began playing football in 1952. Its overall record is 432-283-17. The Panthers won Class A state championships in 1988, 1991, 2002, 2004, and 2010 and the Class A Public School state championship in 2015. Irwin County started playing football in 1952. It has an overall record of 423-285-17. The Indians won the 1975 Class A state championship.
- How They Got Here: Clinch County defeated Bleckley County 37-14 and McIntosh County Academy 42-6 before losing to Brooks County 17-14 and Irwin County 21-7. The Panthers then defeated Wilcox County 42-7, Atkinson County 56-21, Turner County 42-7, Lanier County 41-7, Charlton County 37-14, and Telfair County 32-13. Clinch County has playoff wins over Dooly County 48-35, Mitchell County 21-0, and Mt. Zion 23-20. Irwin County defeated Berrien 31-0 and lost to Fitzgerald 31-6 before defeating Macon County 36-28, Clinch County 21-7, Telfair County 21-14, Charlton County 48-27, Lanier County 46-7, Wilcox County 52-3, Atkinson County 53-13, and Turner County 32-6. The Indians have playoff wins over Lincoln County 28-14, Macon County 21-15, and Emanuel County Institute 38-35.
- Prediction: Irwin County wins by 2.
Class 2A—Saturday at 1 p.m.
Hapeville Charter (13-1) v. Rabun County (14-0)
- Series History: First Meeting
- School History: Hapeville Charter started playing football in 2011. Its overall record is 37-34-1. Rabun County started playing football in 1949. Its overall record is 365-327-13. Both teams are seeking their first state championships.
- How They Got Here: Hapeville Charter defeated Fitzgerald 25-22 and lost to Thompson of Alabaster (Ala.) before defeating Pace Academy 37-3, Wesleyan 35-0, South Atlanta 42-7, Washington 63-6, BEST Academy 49-0, Douglass 35-0, Therrell 42-7, and KIPP Atlanta Collegiate 24-0. The Hornets have playoff wins over Spencer 24-0, Elbert County 56-10, Benedictine 31-17, and Heard County 28-21. Rabun County defeated Mt. Pisgah Christian 62-21, Stephens County 28-6, White County 49-26, West Hall 49-8, Banks County 45-7, Putnam County 59-0, Social Circle 63-7, Elbert County 35-7, Oglethorpe County 56-14, and Monticello 52-7. The Wildcats have playoff wins over Chattooga 49-6, BEST Academy 35-2, Screven County 56-14, and Brooks County 23-12.
- Prediction: Hapeville Charter wins by 1.
Class 4A—Saturday at 4:30 p.m.
Blessed Trinity (12-2) v. Marist (14-0)
- Series History: Tied 1-1
- Last Meeting: Marist defeated Blessed Trinity 25-24 on October 20, 2017
- School History: Blessed Trinity began playing football in 2001. Its overall record is 123-65-1. The Titans are seeking their first state championship. Marist began playing football in 1912. Its overall record is 702-325-38. Marist is the 5th winningest program in Georgia high school history. The War Eagles won the Class AAA state championship in 1989 and the Class AAAA state championship in 2003.
- How They Got Here: Blessed Trinity defeated Westminster 28-0 and St. Pius X 35-21 before losing to Marietta 14-6. The Titans then defeated Creekview 28-27, Hart County 31-7, McCallie School of Chattanooga (Tenn.) 45-19, White County 50-14, and Chestatee 41-14 before losing to Marist 25-24 and defeating West Hall 44-21. Blessed Trinity has playoff wins over Oconee County 35-0, Cartersville 21-17, Thomson 43-13, and Mary Persons 28-27. Marist defeated Lovett 31-14, Baylor of Chattanooga (Tenn.) 31-6, St. Pius X 17-14, Woodward Academy 34-17, Chamblee 58-0, Gainesville 39-14, West Hall 41-6, Blessed Trinity 25-24, Chestatee 48-30, and White County 35-7. The War Eagles have playoff wins over Madison County 38-14, Cedartown 31-18, Burke County 28-6, and St. Pius X 35-14.
- Prediction: Blessed Trinity wins by 2.
Class 7A—Saturday at 8 p.m.
Colquitt County (11-3) v. North Gwinnett (13-1)
- Series History: Colquitt County leads 2-1
- Last Meeting: Colquitt County defeated North Gwinnett 45-14 on August 22, 2015
- School History: Colquitt County High School opened in 1978. Its overall record is 310-172-2. The Packers won the Class AAAA state championship in 1994 and Class AAAAAA state championships in 2014 and 2015. North Gwinnett High School opened in 1961. Its overall record is 306-283-9. The Bulldogs are seeking their first state championship.
- How They Got Here: Colquitt County defeated Norcross 20-17, Vista Murrieta (Calif.) 35-21, Tucker 35-21, and Roswell 28-0 before losing to Brookwood 42-25. The Packers then defeated Valdosta 27-0, Bishop Sullivan (Va.) 38-7, and Camden County 27-6 before losing to Tift County 38-35 and Lowndes in double overtime 51-45. Colquitt County has playoff wins over Pebblebrook 49-7, Walton 28-21, Archer 12-7, and Brookwood 31-14. North Gwinnett lost to Walton 31-29 and then defeated Milton 31-28, Hillgrove 33-9, Norcross 35-14, Mountain View 27-14, Mill Creek 35-21, Duluth 52-0, Peachtree Ridge 44-8, Collins Hill 45-6, and Discovery 41-7. The Bulldogs have playoff wins over North Forsyth 55-7, Grayson 35-28, Marietta 51-41, and McEachern 38-17.
- Prediction: Colquitt County wins by 6.