Lee County 14, Northside-Warner Robins 0
Lee County successfully defended its AAAAAA title with a stifling defensive effort that protected the two-touchdown lead gained with rushing scores by Shaun Kimbrough. The Trojans’ defense was looking to make a statement, and a championship shutout echoed the unit’s season-long dominance.
“We have the best defense in the state,” said Lee quarterback Kyle Toole. “That was the best game I’ve ever seen them play. They played their butts off tonight. They have players all over the field, really. They’re really sound at what they do. They never really are screwing up.”
Kimbrough scored with 32 seconds left in the first quarter on a 4-yard run and at 11:55 of the fourth quarter on the 2-yard dive.
The Lee County defense allowed Northside-Warner Robins just 164 total yards in 53 plays on the evening while gaining 203 yards on 46 plays. Kimbrough finished with 56 rushing yards on 16 carries. Toole was 6 of 14 passing for 128 yards. Jammie Robinson made 5.5 tackles. Baron Hopson and Deangelo Griffin each had 5 tackles. Derrick Gorsuch made 4.5 tackles.
Northside’s Jadin Daniels was 9 of 19 passing for 111 yards. Jaron McWilliams made 8 tackles for Northside. Teammates DeShaun Maine and Tubby McCall each made six tackles. Willie Northern made three tackles.
Bainbridge 47, Warner Robins 41 3OT
The young Bearcats avenged a 38-0 loss to Warner Robins in the regular season with a 47-41 triple overtime victory in the Class AAAAA state championship. But the high school version of the infamous 28-3 script flip in Super Bowl LI saw Bainbridge fighting off a valiant Warner Robins comeback attempt after going up 28-0 early in the game.
Bainbridge built its lead on an Anthony Brooks punt return, a Bryce Worthy 32-yard interception return, a 24-yard pass from Caleb McDowell to Aaron Spivie and a 9-yard rushing score by McDowell.
“The kids believe in our process and they work the process,” said Littleton. “The process is no good without them. Without them doing it, and believing it. It hasn’t even hit right now. The ups and downs of that game, I mean, we’re sitting there up four touchdowns. You just know Warner Robins is going to fight back to get in the game, so we just told our kids to keep fighting, and they listened.”
Unbeaten Warner Robins began its furious comeback with a 4-yard touchdown run by Jahlen Rutherford with 5:23 left in the second quarter. Bainbridge’s Deyon Bouie briefly stopped the Demons rally with his 32-yard interception return that put the Bearcats up four touchdowns, but then Warner Robins reeled off 35 unanswered points and forced overtime.
“Defensively, we bailed ourselves out of situations all year long,” said Littleton. “Offensively, we just make plays when we have to and if we don’t make plays, the defense picks us up.”
The two teams swapped field goals and defensive stops through two overtimes before Hawksin’s game-winning touchdown run. A pair of Caleb Harris field goals (37-yards, 34-yards) kept Bainbridge alive. Samariy Howard’s two field goals (22-yards, 20-yards) kept Warner Robins in it before another defensive stop by Bainbridge, and a third down sack by sophomore Tahari Tate set up the game-clinching the fourth down incompletion.
“It’s unbelievable for the community,” said Littleton, regarding Bainbridge weathering Hurricane Michael earlier this year. “The community wanted this so bad and they wanted to be here. But, once they realized they were here, they wanted to win it so bad. They just pulled together and they came together for everybody.”
Cedar Grove 14, Peach County 13
When Jadon Haselwood secured the game-winning touchdown pass with 4 seconds left to lift Cedar Grove over Peach County at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, he did it in memory of his friend and in the jersey number of his teammate—whose life was cut short after graduation last year. The 22-yard pass from Kendall Boney not only put Cedar Grove ahead of Peach County 14-13 with single digit seconds left, but it sent a wave of emotion as the Saints’ faithful celebrated on the sidelines and from the stands.
“It means more,” said Haselwood, who wore No. 11 instead of his regular No. 2, as a tribute to his fallen teammate. “I think everybody knows that one of my,” he said before correcting himself. “One of OUR teammates passed away, and I wore his jersey number today. I feel like he is looking down and seeing us win it.”
Trevon Richardson, a 2017 graduate from Cedar Grove, was gunned down outside of his apartment just days after graduation this past May. His death rocked the team as it prepared to take on a caliber of schedule that few Class AAA programs would fathom to take. Richardson’s mother, Nicole, worked as a registrar at the school and her son was a star athlete on the football, basketball and track teams and was planning to play football at Valdosta State.
This one, according to the entire Cedar Grove family, was for Trevon.
The outcome in the title game could have had a much less inspiring ending, however, as Cedar Grove’s offensive line was flagged for three false starts on the final drive before the desperation third down heave to Haselwood.
“We false-started like three or four times,” reflected Haselwood. “We kept the same call and I knew we were going to score. [Peach County] had one safety in front of me, but I wasn’t worried about him because I would just run by him. I was worried about the second guy but he came in too late and we ended up winning.”
Peach County struck first on a 48-yard field goal from Rene Galan with 1:43 left in the second quarter. Kendall Boney gave Cedar Grove its first lead on a 12-yard run at 6:39 in the third quarter. Peach County got back in front on a 2-yard run by Noah Whittington at the end of the third quarter, before Haselwood’s game-winner marked 14-13 the final tally.
“It means a lot,” said Cedar Grove head coach Jimmy Smith on the emotions of this title in consideration of the Saints’ 2016 AAA title. “Jadon had on No. 11 for a reason, man. We played this game in dedication to Trevon Richardson. His mom is here. We dedicated this to No. 11 and it worked out.”
Boney was 6-of-10 passing for 101 yards and a touchdown and rushed for a score. Haselwood finished with two catches for 42 yards and the game-winner. Montre Monfort led all players with seven tackles. Rashad Cheney and Latrelvin Blackam had 6.5 tackles. Haselwood also made four tackles.
Peach County’s Jaydon Gibson was 12 of 20 passing for 130 yards. Whittington rushed for 39 yards and 1 touchdown on 14 carries. Clemson commit Sergio Allen had 6.5 tackles. Terkel Jefferson made 5.5 tackles and ZaViann Bonner made 5 tackles.
Clinch County 27, Irwin County 20
Clinch County captured its eighth state championship and successfully defended its 2017 title behind a three-touchdown performance from quarterback Tyler Morehead. Clinch County continued the trend of losing to Irwin County in the regular season before rebounding to win the state championship rematch for the third time in its past four seasons.
“Same situation, same scenario,” said Clinch head coach Jim Dickerson. “We are glad that the football gods are smiling on us with playing the same team twice. We have had to overcome so much and the team has been resilient all year long.”
Irwin County started the scoring on a 58-yard touchdown pass from Zach Smith to Jamorri Colson with 6:13 left in the first quarter. Clinch answered with a 30-yard Zack Robbins field goal and 48-yard touchdown run by Morehead in the second quarter to claim a 10-7 lead at the half.
Irwin County regained the lead on a 10-yard run by Jamal Paulk, but its missed extra-point kept the game within a field goal (13-10) heading into the fourth. Robbins pulled Clinch County even with a 40-yard line-drive field goal early in the fourth quarter, before Clinch County’s special teams came up with a crucial turnover, which allowed Jeremiah Johnson, a 6-foot-7, 215-pound stud receiver, to take over.
“We were coming off the ball hard and doing everything the right way,” said receiver Jeremiah Johnson of the sequence that put Clinch in control of the game. “It was a big play at the moment.”
On the kickoff following Robbin’s field goal, the Irwin County return unit got caught napping, which allowed Morehead to recover the ball unintended onside kick. Johnson ran a fade route on the ensuing play to the right side of the end zone and used the natural mismatch of his massive frame to easily snag the reception above the outstretched arms of the Irwin County defender. Six minutes later, Johnson made his presence known again, this time on a 59-yard touchdown pass from Morehead that pushed the lead to 27-13.
“We just came in with a big head,” Johnson said of Clinch’s regular-season loss to Irwin County. “At the end of the day, we know we can beat them when we want to. We didn’t have a big head today.”
Irwin County answered with a 15-yard touchdown pass from Zach Smith to Javon Stanley that pulled the game within a touchdown, 27-20, but the onside kick was successfully recovered by Clinch County.
Morehead finish an efficient 4-of-6 passing for 121 yards and two touchdowns. He also led Clinch County with his 68 rushing yards and 48-yard rushing score. Johnson caught three passes for 112 yards and two touchdowns. Trezman Marshall made five tackles. Dillil Carter and Dantionio Robinson had 4.5 tackles.
Irwin County’s Zach Smith finished 5-of-10 passing for two touchdowns and one interception. D.J. Lundy rushed for 127 yards on 15 carries. Colson has one catch for 58 yards and a touchdown. Stanley caught two passes for 23-yards and a touchdown.