It’s North Gwinnett and Colquitt County.
Both won their semifinals Friday night by comfortable margins, although both games were competitive until they got away in the second half from McEachern and Brookwood, the respective losing teams.
Colquitt defeated Brookwood 31-14 after trailing 14-10 at halftime. Colquitt scored a touchdown on its first drive of the second half, then scored another touchdown on a blocked kick, and the winds had changed for good. For more on that game, see Alex Makrides’ story on ajc.com.
North Gwinnett beat McEachern 38-17 despite losing four fumbles. McEachern led early and got within 24-17 in the fourth quarter before North put the game away. For more on that game, see Stan Awtrey’s story on ajc.com.
Each state final team has its own story.
For Colquitt, it’s a chance to win three state titles in four years and the Packers’ continued success on the road in the playoffs. Brookwood became the 12th region champion that Colquitt County has beaten on the road in the playoffs in Rush Propst’s 10 seasons as head coach. That doesn’t count two others beaten in the Georgia Dome.
Georgia has probably never seen a program consistently peak in the playoffs the way that Colquitt has these past several seasons. There have been more dominant teams in terms of state titles, but none that has so routinely played better in the playoffs than in the regular season. Colquitt was the only No. 3 seed in the semifinals in any classification.
For North Gwinnett, it’s a chance to win its first state title in a season that showed no early signs that this might be the year. The Bulldogs have a new coach, Bill Stewart, who was inheriting a program that was 11-10 the previous two seasons. The program was a perennial contender under Bob Sphire until new school openings began to chip away at its base.
North Gwinnett lost to Walton in the first game, then lost its quarterback for the season (Texas A&M-committed Cade Fortin) in the second. Then came 12 straight wins.
‘’Going into the thing, we felt like if this group came together, we’d have a chance,’’ Stewart said earlier this week. ‘’We had kids that weren’t satisfied with the way things went last season and with their performance and decided to put it to the grindstone.’’
And here they are. North Gwinnett vs. Colquitt County. See you at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.