The Georgia High School Association (GHSA) football state playoffs reached the quarterfinals round with four local teams still in contention for a state championship and two bowing out. The second round of the postseason took place Nov. 22 while the quarters happened Nov. 29, with quarterfinal results unavailable at the Neighbor’s deadline.
Holy Innocents’ entered the Class A Private playoffs as the second overall seed and received a first-round bye. The Golden Bears hosted St. Francis in the second round and dominated the entire contest, emerging with a 42-3 victory.
Holy Innocents’ jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first quarter on TyQuann Alexander’s 36-yard touchdown run. The Golden Bears’ defense stepped up on St. Francis’ next possession as Landon Kardian intercepted a pass to give the home team the ball. Michael Cox subsequently scored the first of his four touchdowns on the next possession for Holy Innocents’ on a 15-yard run to increase the lead to 14-0.
Cox’s one-yard touchdown run in the second quarter made the score 21-3 heading into halftime. Cox’s other two rushing scores came in the third quarter to give Holy Innocents’ a 35-3 lead. The scoring finished for the Golden Bears on Joe Hingson’s four-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
The victory kept Holy Innocents’ undefeated through its first 11 games. The amount of victories also ties the mark for the most wins in a single season, which was set in 2009. It was also the third time in program history the Golden Bears advanced to the quarters (2009, 2013).
Holy Innocents’ hosted Mount Paran, the 23rd overall seed, in the quarterfinals.
Wesleyan was also in the Class A Private state quarters after a 34-13 road win over Christian Heritage in the second round. J.C. French started the scoring for the Wolves with a six-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. Cooper Blauser’s 11-yard touchdown catch from French later in the quarter gave the Wolves a 21-6 lead into halftime. Griffin Caldwell’s three-yard touchdown run in the third quarter and Javy Martinez’s two field goals in the fourth quarter were the Wesleyan scores in the second half.
The Wolves are the ninth overall seed and won their first-round home contest over First Presbyterian 35-28 Nov. 15. Next up for Wesleyan was a road trip to Savannah Christian, the top overall seed, in the quarters.
Woodward was in the Class 4A quarterfinals for the fifth time in six seasons following a 38-0 home win over St. Pius X in the second round. War Eagles quarterback Mike Wright threw for 162 yards and four touchdowns in addition to gaining 78 yards on the ground with a rushing TD in the victory. Ambe Caldwell had two TD receptions, and Chase Marshall and Jacorrei Turner each caught one as well for Woodward.
Woodward, the top seed from Region 4AAAA, stayed undefeated though its first 12 games of the season and visited Cartersville, the top seed from Region 5AAAA, in the quarterfinals.
Marist also advanced to the Class 4A quarters after a 30-20 win at Carver (Columbus) in the second round. Connor Cigelske had 283 total yards and two touchdowns, one rushing and one passing, for the War Eagles in the win. Lincoln Parker rushed for two touchdowns, James Wise had a 73-yard touchdown catch and Richard Bowed hit a 31-yard field goal for Marist.
The War Eagles have been in the quarterfinals in seven of the last eight years, including a trip to the semifinals in 2018. Marist, the second seed from Region 7AAAA, visited Oconee County, the top seed from Region 8AAAA, in the quarters.
Other than St. Pius X, the second round also saw the conclusion of the season for Riverwood. In the in Class 5A playoffs, the Raiders dropped the second-round home contest to Dutchtown 31-7 for their first loss of the season. Riverwood’s lone score of the game came on a nine-yard touchdown run by Avery Smith in the third quarter.
The Raiders concluded a record-setting season which saw the squad win its first 11 games. The 11 victories were the most in program history and the first time it had won double-digit contests in a single campaign. Riverwood also won a region title for the first time in program history.