The Georgia High School Association (GHSA) enters the state finals with one local program finding itself ready to add a championship to its strong gridiron history.
Marist hosts Blessed Trinity in the Class AAAA state championship game on Dec. 15. The War Eagles are in the title game for the first time since 2008 and looks for its first state title since 2003.
The postseason started for Marist, the top seed from Region 7AAAA, with a 38-14 home win over Madison County on Nov. 10. After a 31-18 home win over Cedartown in the second round and a 28-6 road victory at Burke County in the quarterfinals, the War Eagles hosted a familiar foe in St. Pius X in the semifinals on Dec. 1.
Leading 13-7 heading into the second half, Marist quarterback Chase Abshier threw a 55-yard touchdown pass to Matthew Houghton early in the third quarter to increase the margin and give the War Eagles control of the contest. Abshier finished the evening with a team-high 154 passing yards and two touchdowns in the air while also rushing for a team-high 113 yards and an additional two TDs on the ground. Dean Johnson had an 11-yard touchdown run and Ben Rosing caught a 63-yard TD pass for the Marist as well in the victory.
Marist outgained the Golden Lions 428-232 in total yardage. Connor Egan threw for a team-high 153 yards and two touchdowns, one each to Zach Ranson and Jacob Pajer, in the loss for St. Pius X. The Golden Lions, who were the top seed from Region 8AAA, won eight games in 2017.
The War Eagles enters the state title game undefeated through its first 13 games. One of those wins came in a region game against Blessed Trinity, a 25-24 road victory on Oct. 20. It was one of only two losses for the Titans heading into the title game. Blessed Trinity, which finished second in the region defeated Oconee County, Cartersville, Thomson and Mary Persons in the playoffs to reach the championship contest.