The first round of the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) state football Playoffs took place Nov. 15 with six local programs (half of the 12 area postseason-bound schools) advancing and keeping their championship hopes alive. The second round was Nov. 22, with results unavailable at the Neighbor’s deadline.
The Class A Private playoffs started with Wesleyan earning a 35-28 home win over First Presbyterian after trailing by 14 points in the third quarter. J.C. French threw for 250 yards and two touchdowns, both to Micah Smith, who caught nine passes for 137 yards, in the victory. Griffin Caldwell rushed for a team-high 116 yards and a touchdown and teammate Tanner Bivins posted 11 tackles on defense for the Wolves.
“We showed a lot of poise in the face of growing adversity,” Wesleyan coach Franklin Pridgen said. “The best thing we did all night was not quit. We must improve how we start in order to win”
Wesleyan is the ninth overall seed and in the playoffs for the ninth consecutive year. The Wolves visited Christian Heritage, the eighth overall seed, in the second round.
Riverwood earned its first playoff game victory since 2001 with its 17-14 home win over Loganville in Class 5A action. Avery Smith’s touchdown pass to Donovan Logan with one second remaining in the game secured the win for the Raiders. Smith finished the night with two TD passes, both to Logan, and Elijah Kirby rushed for a team-high 117 yards. Kaleb Patton led Riverwood’s defense with 15 tackles and two sacks.
The victory was the 11th of the season for the Riverwood, which is a record for a program which started in 1971. It also kept the Raiders undefeated on the season and increased their winning streak to 11 games, another program high mark.
“That was a great team win against Loganville,” Riverwood coach Robert Edwards said. “We were able to overcome some early mistakes, and the offense scored that crucial touchdown with one second on the clock. I am proud of the fight the boys had and the never give up attitude they presented.
The Raiders as the top seed from Region 6AAAAA hosted Dutchtown, the second seed from Region 4AAAAA, in the second round.
Woodward hosted St. Pius X in the second round of the Class 4A playoffs. The War Eagles, undefeated through their first 11 games and the top seed from Region 4AAAA, won their first-round home game against Upson-Lee 40-14. Woodward quarterback Mike Wright had three touchdowns, two passing and one rushing, in the victory.
St. Pius X, the third seed from Region 8AAAA, won at Heritage 42-14 in the first round. The Golden Lions outrushed their opponent 375-22 in yardage and were led by Cameron Cainion, who had a game high 116 individually on the ground along with a touchdown. He also posted a team-high six tackles on defense. Cameron Wingo had three touchdowns, two rushing and one receiving, and Dennis O’Shea threw two TD passes in the victory.
Marist also advanced to the second round of the Class 4A playoffs after its 42-22 home win over Cedartown. The War Eagles were led by quarterback Connor Cigelske, who rushed for 181 yards and a school-record six touchdowns while also throwing for 121 yards. Cigelske’s six touchdowns broke the mark of five rushing scores set by Brandon Russell in 1998. Marist’s defense had two interceptions.
“Cedartown provided a stiff test for our team,” Marist coach Alan Chadwick said. “They came into the game with a devastating ground game but proceeded to move away from that as the game progressed. Our defense was fighting hard but hanging on by a thread. Containing their elusive QB was a huge challenge for us. Our defense did come up with two interceptions, which helped our cause in slowing them down.”
The War Eagles, who were the second seed from Region 7AAAA, visited Carver (Columbus), the top seed from Region 1AAAA, in the second round.
Holy Innocents’ was awarded the second overall seed in the Class A Private playoffs and had a first-round bye. The Golden Bears hosted St. Francis in the second round.
Six local programs also saw their seasons conclude in the first round.
Mount Vernon dropped its contest at Hebron Christian 13-7 in the Class A Private playoffs. Mustangs running back Skylar Stefaniak-Earley rushed for a team-high 129 yards in the loss.
“So proud of how are players competed,” Mount Vernon coach Wayne Dabbs said. “We had several key injuries to overcome this season, but this group never made excuses. They just continued to get to work and we had several players step up and play key roles in helping this group make their fourth straight playoff appearance. We had a great group of seniors that were great leaders on and off the field, and we are so proud of this incredible group of young men.”
The Mustangs were the 21st overall seed and finished their 2019 campaign with five wins.
Whitefield, the 14th overall seed in the Class A Private playoffs, fell at home to Brookstone 10-7 in the first round, concluding its season with seven wins.
The Class 3A playoffs saw all three local teams from Region 5AAA in the competition eliminated in the first round.
Westminster was the second seed from the region and dropped its home contest to Dawson County 27-3. The Wildcats won six games this season.
Lovett was the third seed and was defeated at North Hall 24-21. Henry Beery and Collin Goldberg each had a rushing touchdown and Blaine McAllister threw a one-yard TD pass to Beery in the loss for the Lions, who won seven games in 2019.
Pace was the fourth seed and dropped its road contest to Greater Atlanta Christian 35-14. The Knights won five games this season.
North Atlanta entered the Class 6A playoffs as the third seed from Region 7AAAAAA. The Warriors were defeated at South Paulding 41-27 in the first round, ending their season with seven wins. This was North Atlanta’s first postseason appearance since 1996 and most wins since 2010.