The top three football teams in Class AAA continued to impress Friday night, and you have to wonder if there are other teams in the top 10 that will be able to mount a challenge. Cedar Grove, Peach County and Greater Atlanta Christian appear ready to waltz through region play and into the playoffs.
In Forsyth, No. 2 Peach weathered a 14-0 first-quarter deficit with a dominant second half and moved past Class AAAA No. 10 Mary Persons 35-14 to improve to 3-1. The game was tied at 14 at the half.
“I couldn’t be more pleased,” Peach County’s Chad Campbell told Michael Lough, who covered the game for the AJC. “The second half, I think we just wore them down. I can’t say enough about the kids. They didn’t flinch. And a hostile environment, too.”
The Trojans got off to a slow start after botching a field-goal attempt which was returned 70 yards by Daniel Lavelle four minutes into the game.
“We were in a fog,” Campbell told Lough. “We go over this. We got to damn tackle somebody.”
Peach County made up for it in the second half. In the final quarter, the Trojans took eight minutes off the clock with a 16-play, 92-yard drive that was capped by a Chris Gibson touchdown from the 2. Controlling the ball late in the game was the key to keeping Mary Persons at bay.
“The biggest thing in the second half, we couldn’t get the ball away from them,” Mary Persons coach Brian Nelson told Lough. “They just possessed it so well. We couldn’t get stops. Sometimes we had them backed up and we let them out. They have so many weapons. They're a pretty dang good football team.”
No. 1 Cedar Grove (4-0, 1-0) handled Region 5 opponent and No. 9 Lovett (1-3, 0-1) 41-14 behind Darrell Neal and Chevon Wright’s rushing attack. Neal finished with 185 yards on 22 carries with one touchdown, and Wright added 95 yards on 10 carries with one touchdown. The Saints’ offensive line deserves a lot of the credit for the successful running game. Junior Quentin Eagle, sophomore Brandon Hall, senior Evantae Spencer, junior Michael Brooks and Rogerick Hamilton opened huge running lanes.
Lovett led 7-6 after the first quarter, but Cedar Grove outscored the Lions 22-7 in the second quarter, then held Lovett scoreless in the second half to put the game out of reach.
Cedar Grove will travel to Westminster next week; Lovett hosts Towers.
In a Region 6 North/South battle, No. 6 Calhoun (3-1) had three players with interception returns for touchdowns as it defeated cross-region rival Coahulla Creek, 62-6.
Payton Morrow (41-yard interception return), Aaron Hayes (43-yard interception return) and James Prater (20-yard interception return) were the defensive leaders. Quarterback Gavin Gray was a very efficient 3-for-4 passing for 79 yards and two touchdowns, both to Luke Moseley who finished with only two receptions for 56 yards. The Yellow Jackets' defense had four interceptions during the game.
The Yellow Jackets could use the boost after losing to Cartersville 58-6 Sept. 1. Calhoun will host North Murray on Sept. 22 .
No. 3 Greater Atlanta Christian (3-1) moved past Class AAAA St. Pius X 42-14 before moving into Region 7 play against Union County next week.
The Spartans were tied with the Golden Lions 7-7 after the first quarter before reeling off 21 unanswered points. Cole Hunter led the defense with a 73-yard interception return. Kyler McMichael broke open the game second quarter, scoring on runs of 54 and 23 yards. Quarterback Josh Rose connected with Zac Mixon and Jeffrey Blake. Blake also caught a pass from backup quarterback Jackson Hardy, son of GAC coach Tim Hardy.
Dawson County, ranked No. 5, was the only top 10 team to fall, losing to West Hall 13-10.
Here is how the rest of the top 10 fared this week:
No. 4 Crisp County (3-0) vs. Rutland was cancelled.
No. 5 Dawson County (2-1) lost to West Hall 13-10.
No. 7 Jenkins had the week off and will face Southeast Bulloch on Sept. 22 to open Region 3 play.
No. 8 Bremen (4-0) defeated Murray County 31-10.
No. 10 Monroe Area (3-0) defeated Walnut Grove 38-7.