Here is a look at the finals (courtesy Georgia High School Football Daily), including a comment from Prince Avenue Christian head coach Greg Vandagriff.
Eagle’s Landing Christian vs. Athens Academy
When, where: 10 a.m. Friday, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta
Records, rankings: Eagle’s Landing Christian is 13-0, the No. 1 seed and No. 1; Athens Academy is 13-0, the No. 2 seed and No. 2.
Last meeting: Eagle’s Landing Christian won 23-18 in the first round of the 2009 Class A playoffs.
Things to know: Eagle’s Landing Christian is seeking its third consecutive Class A title and 36th straight victory. Athens Academy is playing in its first final and would become the first state champion from Athens since Clarke Central in 1985. Both are run-oriented teams. ELCA rushed for 458 yards on 44 carries in a 55-0 semifinal victory over Prince Avenue Christian. Josh Mays, one of five ELCA backs with more than 500 yards rushing, leads with 1,287 yards and 19 touchdowns. Brayden Rush is 78-of-129 passing for 1,425 yards with 22 touchdowns and just two interceptions. DE Harrison Taylor was the Region 5-A defensive player of the year. DB Khaleb Hood has returned two kickoffs and three punts for touchdowns. Athens Academy’s strength is its backfield of Payton Bowles (1,003 yards rushing, 264 receiving), Len’Neth Whitehead (965 rushing) and Henry Trapnell (597 rushing, 379 returning). Jack Thomas has thrown for 958 yards. DE Jackson Reynolds was the Region 8-A defensive player of the year. Athens Academy starts five sophomores and four juniors on a defense that is allowing only 8.2 points per game.
One coach’s take: Greg Vandagriff, Prince Avenue Christian. “Whoever plays [ELCA] better be big up front. They win at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. I wish I could say they have a weakness. Their big and fast. Defensively, they play their safety deep so it’s hard to take big shots down the field. You have to play ball control. On offense, the speed they have is hard to deal with. They have so many players who can take it to the house from anywhere. They have 10 or so kids who can run 4.5 [seconds in the 40-yard dash]. In Class A, you’re lucky if you have four or five on your team.”
Clinch County vs. Irwin County
When, where: 10 a.m. Saturday, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta
Records, rankings: Clinch County is 11-2, the No. 5 seed and No. 3; Irwin County is 12-1, the No. 2 seed and No. 2.
Last meeting: Irwin County won 21-7 on Sept. 15.
Things to know: Irwin County is seeking its first state title since 1975 and second overall. Clinch County is going for its third state title in eight seasons and seventh overall. The Region 2 rivals are meeting in the state final for the second time in three seasons. In 2015, Irwin County won the regular-season game 28-12 but lost in the championship game 24-7. Irwin County won the regular-season game again this season, taking advantage of four Clinch County turnovers. Steven Thomas ran for 113 yards on 13 carries in that game. He is Irwin’s second-leading rusher with 716 yards on 107 carries. D.J. Lundy has run for 1,170 yards and 22 touchdowns on 195 carries. The Indians average 353 yards rushing per game. Clinch County’s offense centers on Charles McClelland and Trezmen Marshall. McClelland has 931 passing yards, a team-high 1,221 rushing yards and 63 receiving yards. He scored on runs of 11 and 2 yards in a 23-20 victory over Mount Zion last week. Marshall has 154 yards passing, 841 yards rushing and one reception for 5 yards this season. Both teams average less than 100 yards per game passing (Clinch County 84.5, Irwin County 77.7).