AAA team capsules
Posted 26 October 2006 - 09:38 PM
1967 DALTON CATAMOUNTS
Coach: Bill Chappell (317-74-9)
Record: 12-1 (Lost opener to West Rome 7-6)
Average score: 33-4
Playoffs: Beat West Rome (33-0), St. Pius (21-7), Carver (14-12)
Game by game: 1967 Dalton
Stars: RB/LB Ricky Lake, TB/CB Forrest Starks, TB/LB Keith Whitworth, C/LB Bill McManus
Notes: Chappell retired in 1996 as Georgia's second-winningest coach, and never had a losing season, but this was his only title team as Dalton was runner-up three times in the 1970s. Lake (Georgia) was the big-name player, but Starks (Western Carolina) and Whitworth (Southern Miss) actually had more rushing yards. Dalton's finals opponent, Carver of Atlanta, was the first former GIA school to play for a GHSA state title.
1968 ST. PIUS GOLDEN LIONS
Coach: George Malooof (168-85-12)
Record: 12-1 (Lost opener to Sandy Springs 17-14)
Average score: 18-6
Playoffs: Beat Sandy Springs (13-10), Thomasville (16-15), Gainesville (6-0)
Game by game: 1968 St. Pius
Stars: RB/LB Joe Pelt, RB Steve Morgan, RB Steve Morgan, QB Woody Euart, LB Gary Tkac
Notes: A great defensive team, characteristic of its coach and the era. Two LBs (Dave McCarty, Mike McDermott) and both RBs (Joe Pelt, Steve Morgan) went to Georgia Tech, where Maloof had starred in the 1950s. Linemen Tom Caruso and John Mangan went to Auburn. Pelt's second-quarter TD stood up in the final to give the Lions their only state title against Gainesville.
1969 NORTH SPRINGS SPARTANS
Coach: Leonard Jones
Record: 12-0-1 (tied Northside 35-35)
Average score: 27-15
Playoffs: Beat Westminster (35-7), Thomasville (21-20), Gainesville (28-21)
Game by game: 1969 North Springs
Stars: FB Dennis Whitt, HB Frank Schwann, QB Jim Gregory, OL John Connell
Notes: In the next century, coach Leonard Jones would become a volunteer offensive coordinator at pass-happy Chattahoochee, but in 1969, he often called on the bruising Whitt (Georgia signee) 30 times a game. Schwann (Georgia Tech) was equally as tough a runner, and Gregory, the QB, ran for four TDs in the comeback victory over Gainesville. But Whitt was the real horse. A knee injury ruined what many expected to be a fine college career.
1970 WOODWARD ACADEMY WAR EAGLES
Coach: Graham Hixon (271-91-17)
Record: 13-1 (lost to Lakeshore 27-0)
Average score: 19-6
Playoffs: Beat Lakeshore (40-6), Westminster (17-15), Statesboro (7-6), Dykes (20-14)
Game by game: 1970 Woodward Academy
Stars: FB/LB Keith Harris, HB Stan Thomas, QB Steve Belin, DB Bill Steele
Notes: Woodward knocked out Dykes' starting backfield and came from down 14-0 to win as Harris (Georgia signee) made a late interception, then scored the winning TD with 0:45 left. Harris (1,225 rushing) also blocked the PAT in the Statesboro game. Thomas, another RB/LB, went to South Carolina. It was late coach Graham Hixon's first state championship team. He'd get another at Woodward in 1980.
1971 WESTMINSTER WILDCATS
Coach: Charlie Brake (185-54-10)
Record: 10-3-1 (lost to Rossville 19-12, Shamrock 30-14, Lakeshore 12-7)
Average score: 14-8
Playoffs: Beat Marist (16-7), Lakeshore (7-6), North Fulton (13-0), Fitzgerald (14-8)
Game by game: 1971 Westminster
Stars: TB Kevin Kaufman, QB Jim Pressley, DT Tommy Barwick
Notes: Westminster started 3-3-1. In the 7-6 win over Lakeshore, FB/LB Gary Anderson blocked a PAT, was off-sides, then blocked it again. Saying this was the smartest team he'd ever coached, Brake re-designed his offense just for the final, moving a lineman to FB, and ran entirely inside the tackles as Kaufman (Princeton, later a Manhattan TV show producer) gained 163 yards. It was coach Brake's second state title. He's won one in the 1950s with Morgan County.
1972 SOUTHWEST DEKALB PANTHERS
Coach: Dewey Alverson (180-125-5)
Record: 13-1 (lost to Peachtree 29-14)
Average score: 29-11
Playoffs: Beat North Springs (35-14), Swainsboro (27-26), Central, Thomasville (14-7), Gainesville (16-12)
Game by game: 1972 Southwest DeKalb
Stars: FB Richard Patrick, TB Gregory Graves, WR Jucky Burns, QB Marty Snider
Notes: Alverson got SWD's first title after taking heat for a 6-14 record over the previous two seasons. Snider's 11-yard pass to Jody Douglas with 1:07 left beat Gainsville. Patrick (Appalachian State) rushed for about 1,500 yards, Graves (Tennessee) for 1,000. Graves, only a junior, would become the Class AA back of the year the next season. Snider went to Southern Miss, Burns to Georgia Tech and DT Russ Neal to Tennessee.
1973 SOUTHWEST (ATLANTA) WOLVES
Coach: Ted Sparks
Average score: 38-6
Playoffs: Beat E. Rome (14-7), Habersham Central (42-0), Americus (21-7)
Game by game: 1973 Southwest Atlanta
Stars: QB Anthony Flanagan, DE Reggie Wilkes, WR Gerald Glover, WR Eugene Wilson
Notes: This was the first all-black team to win a GHSA state title, and no City of Atlanta team has won one since. Flanagan (the first African-American QB at Georgia) threw a state-record 31 TD passes, mostly to Glover and Wilson, his teammates on the state-winning basketball team. Wilkes (Georgia Tech) played 10 years in the NFL.
1975 AMERICUS PANTHERS
Coach: Alton Shell (208-107-2)
Average score: 29-1
Playoffs: Beat Dodge Co. (41-0), Camden Co. (19-0), Lakeshore (14-0), Dalton (34-0)
Game by game: 1975 Americus
Stars: LB/WR Mackel Harris, T Matt Braswell, HB/S Ray Johnson, DE Lee Otis Burton
Notes: The defending champs from 1974 shut out 13 of 14 opponents and allowed eight points to Dothan, Ala., on a 70-yard drive aided by seven penalties. Harris (Georgia Tech) was the state champ in the 100 and 200. Daniel Tatum (843 yards) was the leading rusher. Braswell played at Georgia.
1976 AVONDALE BLUE DEVILS
Coach: Crawford Kennedy (169-88-8)
Average score: 30-10
Playoffs: Beat Brown (40-15), W. Rome (28-7), Dalton (32-3), Woodward Academy (20-19)
Game by game: 1976 Avondale
Stars: RB Cliff Austin, RB Tim Martin, QB Davy Sawyer, L Josh Porter
Notes: Dropped to AAA, Avondale won its first state title since 1963. Austin (Clemson) rushed for 1,861 yards, Martin (Georgia) for 1,200-plus. The dream backfield also included Sawyer (Georgia). Mike Broadnax's 22-yard run on fourth-and-inches was the winning touchdown vs. Woodward Academy.
1977 WAYCROSS BULLDOGS
Coach: Dale Williams (233-118-3)
Average score: 24-4
Playoffs: Beat Ware Co. (28-7), Americus (12-7), Woodward Academy (9-6), Dalton (16-7)
Game by game: 1977 Waycross
Stars: QB Keith Taylor, RB Keith Gamble, RB Jimmy Orange, LB Kenneth Thompson
Notes: Waycross, ranked No. 1, beat arch-rival and second-ranked Ware Co. 3-0 when both were 9-0. Waycross won the rematch 28-7 the next week. Gamble and Orange each rushed for over 1,200 yards, and Taylor, later a star at Jacksonville State, was a good passer. Waycross was 3-7 the season before. Dale Williams became the first person to win a GHSA state title as both a player (1956 Valdosta) and head coach.
1978 WESTMINESTER WILDCATS
Coach: Joe Robinson
Record: 13-2 (lost to Lakeshore 6-3, Woodward 19-17)
Average score: 28-8
Playoffs: Beat Troup (37-7), Marist (12-10), Ware Co. (42-28), Swainsboro (29-28), Dalton (17-0)
Game by game: 1978 Westminster
Stars: QB Gordon Beckham, WR Cole Egan, TB Jack Westbrook, S Tom Eaton
Notes: Beckham (South Carolina) hit Egan (Virginia) for a state-record 22 TD passes. Egan caught 13 passes in the semifinals, when the Wildcats let Swainsboro score late in OT so they'd have time tie and win on penetration. Egan's TD catch at 0:07 did it. Westbrook (Georgia Tech) ran for 1,339 yards.
1979 REDAN RAIDERS
Coach: Steve Shankweiler (42-24)
Record: 14-1 (Lost to Stone Mountain 10-7)
Average score: 24-5
Playoffs: Beat Brown (30-0), Avondale (17-8), Gainesville (27-7), Dalton (35-12), Marist (17-14)
Game by game: 1979 Redan
Stars: K/CB Kevin Butler, TE/LB Marty Heninger, DE Mark Henninger, DL Mark Holland
Notes: In its third year of varsity ball, Redan pounded away with a veer offense as RBs Rusty Bennett and Kevin Benson and QB Jay Terrell all had 800-plus yards rushing. Butler went to UGA, Holland to Florida, the Heninger twins to Duke. Butler's 20-yard field goal in the fourth quarter of the state final was the game-winner. Shankweiler left for college ball after this season and is an assistant at East Carolina now.
1980 WOODWARD ACADEMY WAR EAGLES
Coach: Graham Hixon (271-91-17)
Record: 14-1 (Lost to Marist 20-14)
Average score: 24-7
Playoffs: Beat Walker 24-22, Lithonia (17-14), Crisp Co. (12-7), Early Co. (17-3), Marist (14-10)
Stars: QB David Archer, HB Mike Chance, DT Gerald Browner, LB Thomas Cooper
Game by game: 1980 Woodward Academy
Notes: Woodward came from 10-0 down in the title game and stopped Marist three straight times from second-and-goal at the 1 late. Backup HB John Pemberton (Alabama) ran for 114 yards. Browner, a 300-pounder billed as better than his NFL brothers Ross and Joey, was a Parade All-American but bust at Georgia.
1981 WAYCROSS BULLDOGS
Coach: Dale Williams (233-118-3)
Record: 14-1 (lost to Fitzgerald 21-20)
Average score: 28-6
Playoffs: Beat Worth Co. 28-0, Cairo 34-7, Swainsboro 38-6, Crisp Co. 13-7, Columbia 46-13
Game by game: 1981 Waycross
Stars: QB Todd Williams, TB James "J-Bird" Medlock, SE Alfred McElroy, LB Philip Smith
Notes: In has happened twice since 1967 that the coach's son was the starting QB on a state champion. The other was Commerce's Ray and Hal Lamb, also in 1981. Todd Williams, who followed his dad to UGA, was the prime reason for Waycross' fourth state title (1960, '61, '77.)
1982 BAINBRIDGE BEARCATS
Coach: Ralph Jones
Record: 14-1 (Lost to Mitchell-Baker 19-7)
Average score: 32-8
Playoffs: Beat Cook (17-0), Mitchell-Baker (35-22), Americus (21-14), Glenn Hills (28-7), Gainesville (7-6)
Game by game: 1982 Bainbridge
Stars: TB Calvin Close, T Jimmy Holton, FB Scott Carroll, QB Bobby Walden
Notes: Bainbridge had enjoyed just one winning season (5-4-1 in 1974) since 1967 until this. The move down in classification and the escape from powerful 1-AAAA was a godsend. Walden, the quarterback, was the son of the former Georgia All-American. Bainbridge beat Cris Carpenter's Gainesville team in a sloppy title game played in a downpour. Jones won another title in 1990 for rival Cairo.
1983 MITCHELL-BAKER EAGLES
Coach: Jackie Raley
Record: 14-1 (Lost to Worth Co. 21-6)
Average score: 38-11
Playoffs: Beat Camden Co. (24-8), Bainbridge (35-13), Americus (22-12), Glenn Hills (49-13), Marist (21-13)
Game by game: 1983 Mitchell-Baker
Stars: QB James Jackson, FL Ross Worsham, FB/LB Kenny Butler, S George Silas
Notes: "Little Jackson," as Larry Munson would call him at Georgia, was a nightmare to defend, passing for 1,694 yards and rushing for 1,015. He scored 23 touchdowns, passed for another 20. Mitchell-Baker scored 40 points eight times and hit 80 once, in shutout of Randolph-Clay.
1984 THOMSON BULLDOGS
Coach: Luther Welsh (260-150-4)
Average score: 38-6
Playoffs: Beat Glenn Hills (42-0), Westside (40-14), Crisp Co. (13-7), Worth Co. (28-0), Marist (27-17)
Game by game: 1984 Thomson
Stars: RB Jerry Mays, RB Nick Coleman, QB Terry Pettis, LB Jesse Hatcher
Notes: Mays' 2,369 yards rushing still ranks in the top 20 all-time in Georgia, though this was far from a one-man team. Even with Mays gone, Thomson repeated the next year. Directing a quick-strike offense, Pettis completed only 38 passes, but 16 were for touchdowns. Thomson would win it again the next season without Mays. And Welsh would win another state title for the school in 2002.
1986 VILLA RICA WILDCATS
Coach: Rick Swafford
Average score: 31- 9
Playoffs: Beat SE Whitfield 27-0, Dalton 20-10, Gainesville 21-14, Lakeside 28-26, Worth Co. 13-0
Game by game: 1986 Villa Rica
Stars: QB Santray McCoy, WR Rodney McCoy, RB Marcus Holiday, DE Scott Davis.
Notes: This state title was unexpected as Villa Rica was 4-5-1 the year before at AA. But the McCoy cousins were perhaps the state's best passing combo, with Rodney (Georgia) catching 52 passes. Villa Rica was physical in the trenches with an offensive line averaging 209 pounds, the D-line 220.
1987 WORTH COUNTY RAMS
Coach: Milt Miller (209-93-0)
Record: 14-1 (Lost to Thomasville 21-10)
Average score: 30-9
Playoffs: Beat Peach Co. (20-0), Dodge Co. (27-0), Troup (44-0), Central Thomasville (28-21), Marist (26-15)
Game by game: 1987 Worth County
Stars: RB Bennie Nelson, RB Calvin King, QB Kevin Proctor, DT Eugene Bird
Notes: Under Milt Miller, Worth County went from 1-9 in 1985 to its first state title in '87 with a great pair of runners in King (1,580 yards) and Nelson (1,434). The defense intercepted Central's Charlie Ward three times in the semifinals. Miller would win a state title for Lowndes in 1999.
1988 THOMASVILLE BULLDOGS
Coach: Mike Hodges
Average score: 26-7
Playoffs: Beat Thomasville Central (20-3), Albany (21-0), Crisp Co. (23-8), Thomson (43-8), Stephens Co. (12-7)
Game by game: 1988 Thomasville
Stars: QB Charles Bostick, WR/S Mike Jones, FB James Williams, T Renny Thompson
Notes: Mike Hodges, coach of West Rome's AA state champs in 1982 and '83, won his third title of the decade. Bostick, succeeding Shawn Jones at QB, threw an 11-yard TD pass to Jerome Williams in the final minute to win the title game. Williams finished with 1,147 yards rushing.
1989 MARIST WAR EAGLES
Coach: Alan Chadwick (191-31-0)
Average score: 28-4
Playoffs: Beat North Springs (44-10), Clarkston (7-0), Cedartown (28-15), Hart Co. (14-7), Worth Co. (30-8)
Game by game: 1989 Marist
Stars: QB Sean Cotter, DL Boyd Andrews, LB Stewart Williams, LB Chris Millen
Notes: Marist was 0-for-5 in state finals before avenging its '87 loss against Worth. QB Deron Dowhower (son of the Atlanta Falcons' offensive coordinator at the time) was lost for the year in the first game, but Cotter wound up leading the wishbone team in rushing. The defense shut out seven teams. Mike MacLane returned five kicks for TDs.
1990 CAIRO SYRUPMAKERS
Coach: Ralph Jones
Average score: 29-7
Playoffs: Beat Crisp Co. (20-12), Appling Co. (31-7), Thomson (17-12), Marist (14-0), Worth Co. (37-28)
Game by game: 1990 Cairo
Stars: QB Rodney Donaldson, HB Raymond Taylor, FB Herman Garland, LB Terry Solomon
Notes: Taylor rushed for 1,210 yards and joined Herman Garland and James Goar in the Cairo wishbone as the Syrupmakers won their first state title since 1946. In the title game, guard Derek Edwards scored on a 31-yard fumblerooskie, and Garland and Taylor ran for fourth-quarter TDs.
1991 LAKESIDE VIKINGS
Coach: Phil Lindsey (160-53-2)
Average score: 30-5
Playoffs: Beat Shamrock (21-0), Woodward Academy (9-0), Elbert Co. (21-7), Worth Co. (26-7), tied Kendrick (14-14)
Game by game: 1991 Lakeside
Stars: RB T.J. Johnson, QB Howard Bryant, WR Terrez Dennis, L Boris Oden
Notes: Johnson (Ga. Tech) rushed for a DeKalb County record 2,280 yards and was one of Lakeside's eight Division 1 prospects that also included Oden (Penn State), RB Steve Shivers (Tech) and DE/TE Chris Little (Duke). Unchallenged through 14 games, Lakeside was stunned by the Kendrick tie.
1991 KENDRICK CHEROKEES
Coach: Buzz Busby (187-62-2)
Record: 13-1-1 (lost to Peach Co. 14-13)
Average score: 33-7
Playoffs: Beat Carver (14-12), Burke Co. (28-6), Thomasville (50-19), Villa Rica (14-7), tied Lakeside (14-14)
Game by game: 1991 Kendrick
Stars: HB Tobe Taylor, OL Leonard Thomas, LB Henry Ellis, QB Darron Evans
Notes: The classic wishbone team, Kendrick became the first Columbus team to win a GHSA state title. Taylor rushed for 1,689 yards, and backfield mates Adonis Harris and Karya Jackson each had 800-plus. Lineman Thomas went to Auburn, Ellis the linebacker to Mississippi State.
1993 THOMAS COUNTY CENTRAL YELLOW JACKETS
Coach: Ed Pilcher (149-55-1)
Record: 13-2 (Lost to Dougherty 27-14, Westover 14-7)
Average score: 26-12
Playoffs: Beat Cairo (41-22), Richmond Academy (35-14), Peach Co. (24-14), Dalton (28-7), Thomasville (14-12)
Game by game: 1993 Thomas County Central
Stars: RB Johnny Cooksey, QB Rickey Stacey, WR Paul Miranda,
Notes: Central won state titles in 1992, '93 and '94 despite going just 5-5, 8-2 and 7-3 in the regular season. Cooksey played for all three and rushed for 1,749 yards in '93. In the title game, cornerback Corey Clark made the big stop on Thomasville's fourth-and-goal try from the 1.
1995 JOSEY EAGLES
Coach: John Starr (69-33-0)
Average score: 37-10
Playoffs: Beat Richmond Academy (20-13), Peach Co. (27-20), Kendrick (28-21), Cedartown (49-0), Cedar Shoals (13-6)
Game by game: 1995 Josey
Stars: S/WR Deon Grant, WR/CB Armark Tolbert, TE/CB Troy Tolbert, QB George Brown
Notes: Grant (a Tennessee signee and future NFL standout) and the Tolbert brothers (Georgia Tech) might've been the best set of receiver/defensive backs on one team in Georgia history. It was the fist state title for an Augusta team since the 1960s, when Laney was a perennial power in the GIA.
1997 THOMAS COUNTY CENTRAL YELLOW JACKETS
Coach: Ed Pilcher (149-55-1)
Record: 15-0 (beat AAAA semifinalist Colquitt Co. 10-7)
Average score: 41-11
Playoffs: Beat Eagle's Landing (42-7), Crisp Co. (35-7), Worth Co. (34-19), Marist (34-28), Burke Co. (21-19)
Game by game: 1997 Thomas County Central
Stars: RB Joe Burns, QB Leonard Guyton, LB Raytorrie Newkirk, DE Chuckie Jones
Notes: Central won its fifth state title in six years and finished unbeaten for the first time. Burns (Georgia Tech) rushed for 2,006 and 1,941 yards for the '96 and '97 champs. Central averaged 41 points a game, the most ever for a state champion in Georgia's second-highest classification.
1998 DOUGHERTY TROJANS
Coach: John Reynolds (86-42-0)
Record: 13-2 (lost to Colquitt Co. 14-6, Cairo 36-35 in overtime)
Average score: 30-13
Playoffs: Beat Greenbrier (41-14), Hardaway (44-21), Marist (45-28), Cairo (27-7), Peach Co. (27-7)
Game by game: 1998 Dougherty
Stars: QB Uyl Joyner, WR Adrian Cockfield, TE/DL Thomie Venisee, T Maurice Mitchell
Notes: The first state champ from Albany since 1959, Dougherty was also Georgia's first champ with a pair of 50-catch receivers. Cockfield (Albany State) caught 74, Venisee (Troy State) had 55. Joyner (Troy State) passed for 2,194 yards, ran for 584. Mitchell (6-7, 300) became a starter at Florida.
1999 OCONEE COUNTY WARRIORS
Coach: Jeff Herron (106-31-0)
Average score: 38-11
Playoffs: Beat Tucker (36-0), Washington (48-13), Woodward Academy (41-17), Cairo (17-7), Mt. Zion (17-7)
Game by game: 1999 Oconee County
Stars: RB Tyson Browning, LB Tony Taylor, TE J.T. Cape, DL Willie Johnson, OL Jeremy Phillips
Notes: Herron inherited a 2-8 team and won the school's first state title in his third season. The Warriors averaged 25 points in the first half alone out of Herron's Wing-T. Browning (Georgia) rushed for 1,849 yards (10.2 ypc) and Jerry Willoughby added 1,219. Herron then bolted for Camden County, where he won AAAAA state in 2003.
2000 SHAW RAIDERS
Coach: Charlie Flowers (75-29-0)
Average score: 26-6
Playoffs: Beat Worth Co. (27-7), Sandy Creek (8-7, OT), Murray Co. (33-6), Cairo (6-2), Statesboro (30-0)
Game by game: 2000 Shaw
Stars: RB Sterlin Jenkins, DB Reggie McFadden, DE Antarrious Williams, C Tommie Smith
Notes: Shaw once lost 30 straight in the '80s, but Flowers won the school's first state title in his eighth year. Jenkins rushed for 1,000-plus yards behind mammoth linemen (Smith weighed 330). The defense, led by Williams (Auburn) and McFadden (Georgia), was impenetrable in post-season.
2001 STATESBORO BLUE DEVILS
Coach: Buzz Busby (187-62-2)
Average score: 41-6
Playoffs: Beat Woodward Academy (35-7), Thomas Co. Central (35-3), Rome (35-7), Troup (17-0), Dalton (51-13)
Game by game: Statesboro
Stars: RB Jimtavis Walker, RB Delandry Tanner, QB Eugene Gross, OL Harrison Palmer
Notes: Statesboro's average margin of victory in the playoffs was 28 points, best in Georgia since 1976 Warner Robins. Walker (Florida) rushed for 1,996 yards, Tanner (Carson-Newman) for 1,728. Gross ran for more than he passed (655 to 502). It was Statesboro's first title since '66. Busby also won a title at Kendrick in 1990, and a third in Alabama.
2001 LAGRANGE GRANGERS
Coach: Steve Pardue
Record: 14-0 (One game canceled due to 9-11)
Average score: 36-6
Playoffs: Beat Laney (28-0), Appling Co. (21-7), Hart Co. (49-0), N. Forsyth (35-13), Cedartown (22-19)
Game by game: 2001 LaGrange
Stars: QB Blake Mitchell, RB Skyler Thornton, WR Patrick Higgins, LB Sam Olajubutu
Notes: LaGrange's big-yardage players were juniors in Mitchell (2,086 yards passing, South Carolina) and Thornton (1,592 rushing, Florida). Higgins (55 receptions) would play at Arkansas State, Olajubutu at Arkansas. It was Mitchell's four-yard TD pass to Higgins with 0:26 left that beat Cedartown. LaGrange posted seven shutouts.
Posted 27 October 2006 - 08:21 AM
Posted 27 October 2006 - 11:37 AM
Posted 10 November 2006 - 11:12 PM
Also, great work on the AJC article on the 10 best players in the State of Georgia.
Posted 01 March 2007 - 04:06 PM
Also, great work on the AJC article on the 10 best players in the State of Georgia.
where can I find that list
Posted 01 March 2007 - 09:42 PM
Here’s a go at ranking the best 10 Georgia high school football of the past 40 years.
I made the cutoff 1966 because that’s the first year the Georgia High School Association opened its membership to the governing body of black schools, the Georgia Interscholastic Association. Some consider that the start of the modern era of Georgia high school football.
But more practically, I didn’t want to list too many players that most readers had never seen play. How many people saw Fran Tarkenton at Athens High? Or Larry Morris at Decatur? Or Clint Castleberry of old Boys’ High of Atlanta, the running back who won three Georgia state titles (1939-40-41), then finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1942 as a Georgia Tech freshman.
From 1966 forward, here’s my Top 10. We’d like to hear yours.
10. Reggie Brown, Carrollton (senior season 1998): Brown was a Parade and a USA Today All-America player in 1998, when he caught 62 passes for 1,046 yards and 10 touchdowns despite missing two regular-season games to injury. The AJC all-class player of the year and two-time all-state player, Brown also was the No. 1 wide receiver recruit in the country when he signed with Georgia in 1999. Carrollton was 50-6 during Brown’s four seasons with three semifinal appearances, two state title game appearances and the 1998 Class AA Championship. Carrollton also won two track and field state titles with Brown, and he set the state record in the long jump as a sophomore. Brown now plays for the Philadelphia Eagles.
9. Deon Grant, Josey (1996): Grant was just a junior in 1995, when he led Josey to its first state title. At 6-4, 195, Grant was head-hunting, ball-hawking safety, the AJC’s Class AAA defensive player of the year, but he also a weapon at wide receiver. As a senior, he had 99 tackles, six interceptions and five forced fumbles. He caught 28 passes, eight for touchdowns. He was a collegiate All-American at Tennessee and has played six seasons in the NFL.
8. Larry Kinnebrew, East Rome (1977): A Parade All-American and the AJC’s lineman of the year in 1977, Kinnebrew predated Herschel Walker as a freak of nature, a 240-pound fullback fast enough to win a state title in the 100-yard dash. But Kennebrew was more noted as a defensive player, the monster in the middle for the 1977 East Rome team know as “Big Brew’s Wrecking Crew.’’ East Rome allowed only one regular-season touchdown and became the first 15-0 team in state history. Signed by Georgia, Kennebrew wound up playing college ball at Tennessee State before a seven-year NFL career.
7. Charles Grant, Miller County (1997): A 240-pound load in the backfield, Grant was a Parade Magazine in 1997, when he tied Herschel Walker’s record for touchdowns in a season with 45. He had 3,472 all-purpose yards that season for the Class A Pirates. Grant, now with the New Orleans Saints, is the only player ever to be selected his classification’s offensive player of the year (1997) and defensive player of the year (1996) by the Journal-Constitution. He was a linebacker primarily in high school, a defensive end in college and the NFL.
6. Eric Zeier, Marietta (1990): The Marietta quarterback was the AJC’s all-class player of the year and a USA Today All-American in 1990, when he led Marietta to a 10-0 regular-season finish. Zeier threw for 2,477 yards, at the time the fifth-most ever in the highest classification, and Marietta was 22-2 in Zeier’s two seasons after moving to Georgia from Germany. Zeier later became a freshman starter at Georgia and the school’s all-time leading passer before spending five seasons in the NFL.
5. Garrison Hearst (1989): Hearst was the AJC’s all-class player of the year in 1989, when he led Lincoln County to the Class A title and rushed for 2,057 yards. Hearst also was the all-state punter in Class A, not to mention a Parade All-America selection. Lincoln County won three state titles with Hearst in school. Hearst was the SEC player of the year at Georgia in 1992 and played 12 seasons in the NFL.
4. Andy Johnson, Athens (1969): It’s hard to imagine that any player has meant more to a state champion in the largest classification than Johnson. He rushed for 1,178 yards and 15 touchdowns and passed for 1,251 yards and 15 touchdowns, all in 13 games. He returned three kicks for TDs. He intercepted three passes. He was the team’s punter. In the state title game, Athens played defending champion Valdosta, a team that had allowed seven points all season, that coming after Valdosta had fumbled on its 11-yard line. Johnson scored twice himself against the vaunted Wildcats' defense. Then, with a minute left, he drove Athens 75 yards for a touchdown and tying 2-point conversion for the tie, 26-26. Johnson played at Georgia, then seven seasons in the NFL with the Patriots.
3. Stan Rome, Valdosta (1973): Valdosta’s passing game in 1971 was ahead of its time, and so was Rome, a 6-foot-4 wide receiver who caught 72 passes for 20 touchdowns and a national record 1,573 yards that year, all as a sophomore in just 13 games. He was a rare three-time all-state player in the highest classification and the first Georgia wide receiver to be named a Parade All-American. Valdosta was 30-3 with Rome on the varsity, but that ’71 Valdosta team was unforgettable, considered by many the best in Georgia history after it defeated Avondale 62-12 in the state title game. Rome played in the NFL with the Kansas City Chiefs, but many believe his decision to play basketball at Clemson shortened what could've been a greater football career.
2. Takeo Spikes, Washington County (1994): As a 6-3, 225-pound tight end, Spikes caught 34 passes for 706 yards and 17 touchdowns in 1994, when he led Washington County – perhaps the best team man for man in Georgia history -- to a 15-0 season. But he was even more devastating on defense, where he’d make a living in the NFL after an All-America career at Auburn. In high school, Spikes was the AJC’s all-class player of the year and a USA Today All-American in 1994. No team came within 16 points of beating WaCo that year.
1. Herschel Walker (1979): Not going out on a limb on this one. Walker was Parade magazine’s national high school player of the year in 1979, when he rushed for 3,167 yards and 45 touchdowns, both state records. Johnson County finished 14-1 and won its only state title, in Class A. Walker rushed for 318 yards in the state title game, a 35-17 victory over Feldwood. Also won the state titles in the 100-yard dash and shot put.
Posted 01 March 2007 - 10:14 PM
Herschel played for Johnson County in 1979, not Lincoln County.
Posted 01 March 2007 - 11:00 PM
Posted 02 March 2007 - 06:44 AM
I don't have any problem with the top ten list leaving out the old guys. It's hard to compare players of different eras. You would have to believe that someone like Castleberry or McWhorter would be very good today, but I doubt they would be as dominant. Back in the 1980's, someone asked an old coach how many yards he thought Red Grange would run for in a season if he were playing today. The coach said, "probably around 600." The man replied, "Is that all?" The coach said, "Yes, but you've got to remember that Grange is 78 years old."
Posted 08 August 2007 - 10:21 PM
Posted 26 September 2007 - 11:22 AM
Posted 28 September 2007 - 08:15 AM
Do you know anyone that played on the '58 Avondale team?
Posted 06 November 2007 - 12:30 PM
Posted 21 May 2008 - 11:46 AM