POWDER SPRINGS — McEachern wrapped up its first region championship since 2016 on Friday with a dominant 34-7 win over North Cobb.
It was the second straight region win by 27 or more points for the Indians (9-0, 4-0 Region 3AAAAAAA), who moved within one win of a perfect regular season, but coach Franklin Stephens said he still saw plenty of room for improvement.
“We’re still trying to get there,” he said. “On offense, we have too many good players with all the accolades to struggle to score like we do sometimes. We looked better in the second half, but one day someone is going to score on our defense, and we’re going to have to be able to find a way to keep up.”
While an offense may eventually score on McEachern, it was not going to be the Warriors (6-3, 2-2).
The Indians kept North Cobb (6-3, 2-2) off the scoreboard until a squib kick was returned for a touchdown with 16.3 seconds to play, and McEachern allowed only 111 total yards. The Warriors converted their first third-down of the game with 7:46 to play and finished the game 1 of 9.
McEachern was especially impressive against the pass, allowing just two completions on 16 attempts with four sacks, while allowing just a single yard through the air.
“When we’re playing like that at all three levels, we can be pretty good,” Stephens said. “We were getting a good push up front. The linebackers were playing well, and we looked good on the back end. I thought North Cobb left some stuff out there, though. They had chances to make plays they didn’t convert.”
In addition to some key drops, the Warriors’ offense also fumbled the ball away three times.
Despite the lack of a passing threat, Cam Cunningham was able to find some success on the ground for North Cobb with 60 yards on 11 carries.
“There were times I thought we looked OK, but we made way too many mistakes,” North Cobb coach Shane Queen said. “We kept ourselves in the game, but once you do that, you can’t give it right back.”
North Cobb was able to keep it a game into the second half, trailing just 14-0 at the break, but the Indians consistently found ways to pull away late in the game.
Carlos Del Rio-Wilson connected with Javon Baker for a one-handed 27-yard touchdown catch on the game’s first drive.
Baker caught five passes for 61 yards. Del Rio-Wilson completed just 6-of-14 passes for 100 yards, but he carried it a team-high 17 times for 79 yards and a touchdown.
Jordon Simmons, who ran 15 times for 78 yards, and Christian Mason, who ran seven times for 96 yards, each scored in the second half as McEachern pulled away.
“I liked how our defense played early,” Queen said. “We held the No. 1 team in the state to 14 points for a while. We have to take advantage of that better.”