The state champion for Class AAAAA won’t be determined until Friday, when No. 1 Rome travels to play at No. 4 Warner Robins. The two undefeated teams had their showdown delayed a week by the winter weather and didn’t get a chance to play at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
While the championship hasn’t been decided, we can take a look at the best and worst of the 2017 football season. For some it was a great journey. For others it was a disappointment.
Regardless of what happens in the championship game, it’s been a remarkable season for Rome. The Wolves beat Harrison (and five-star quarterback Josh Fields) in the opener and dominated the competition in Region 7. Coach John Reid’s team has been unstoppable through the first four rounds of the playoffs.
Warner Robins went from 3-8 to 14-0, an unprecedented turnaround. Southwest DeKalb put some of its swagger back under former Panther Damien Wimes.
Wayne County went 9-2 and won the Region 2 championship in the first year under coach Ken Cribb. He brought along son Ashby Cribb, who wound up being a first-team all-region choice at running back. The Yellow Jackets won their first region title since 2014. It was nice bounce-back from consecutive 3-8 seasons.
On the Way Up
Maynard Jackson finally brought through to have sort of the season that’s been expected. The Jaguars started the season 2-2, then won their last six and the first-round playoff game. Other programs on the rise include Flowery Branch, Clarke Central, Villa Rica and New Hampstead.
Most Pleasant Surprise
Carver advanced to the Final Four for the first time since 1968. The Panthers hung tough at Warner Robins for better than three quarters in the semifinals. Coach Darren Myles and his staff did a great job maximizing their talent and showing the rest of the state that the City of Atlanta teams can play a little football, too.
Region 3 had more good teams than any other team in the state. There was a three-way tie for first place and Starr’s Mill wound up getting to the third round. The only non-competitive team in the league was Riverdale, which was in rebuild mode.
After a 3-8 season, Thomas County Central made an unusual decision to fire coach Bill Shaver. In 10 seasons as the head coach, Shaver’s teams made the playoffs nine times, reached the second round three times and the quarterfinals once. The Yellow Jackets won the region championship just a year ago. Shaver’s teams went 74-40 during his 10 seasons.
Most Impactful Transfer(s)
Warner Robins got a two-for-one infusion of talent when the Fromm family bought a new house and moved into the district. Dylan Fromm started at quarterback and threw for more than 3,200 yards, and Tyler Fromm caught 30-plus passes. The brothers made a tremendous positive impact on the program.
Best Offensive Player
Bainbridge running back Dameon Pierce overcame some injury issues to rush for 2,123 yards (27th best single-season in Georgia history) and 32 touchdowns. He’s tough enough to run inside and speedy enough to bust one the distance. He finished his career with 6,779 rushing yards, ninth most in Georgia history.
Best Defensive Player
Rome defensive lineman Adam Anderson is the mainstay on a great offensive line and a stellar defense. The University of Georgia commitment has made 61 tackles, 23 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks.