Memorable year in Cobb County football
by John Bednarowski
jbednarowski@mdjonline.com
December 26, 2012 12:17 AM | 5120 views | 2 2 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
11-16-12 -- Colquitt at McEachern 09 -- McEachern's Tj Griffin (10) finds an open lane as the team battles Colquitt. STAFF/EMILY BARNES
11-16-12 -- Colquitt at McEachern 09 -- McEachern's Tj Griffin (10) finds an open lane as the team battles Colquitt. STAFF/EMILY BARNES
slideshow
With the release of the all-state team on Christmas day, the 2012 football season was officially put in the history books. And while Cobb County will have to wait another year to see if it can break what will then be a 46-year state championship drought, the season left numerous memories that will last for years.

Teams

- North Cobb reestablished itself as one of Cobb’s elite programs as the Warriors went 11-3, won its first state playoff game since 1959 and advanced to their first state semifinal game since the same year. In doing so, they scored so many points the scoreboard operator needed to have a calculator handy to keep up.

North Cobb scored more points than any team in county history. The Warriors put up 574 points, averaged 41 points a game and scored at least 40 points in 11 of their 14 games.

n South Cobb won the 300th game in its program’s history and sent many fans reaching for a big bottle of Tums while the Eagles did it. South Cobb started the season

5-0 and in four of those games they scored in the final minute or in overtime for the game-winning score.

- Lassiter completed an undefeated regular season for only the second time in its program’s history and made its first successful climb to being the No. 1 team in the state in Class AAAAAA.

- McEachern won its 15th region title, all since 1986, and tied Marietta for the most region championships in county history.

- Allatoona made the jump from Class AAA to Class AAAAA, but still improved its record to 31-6 over the last three seasons and made its second straight appearance in the state quarterfinals.

- Walker had the first undefeated regular season in its program’s history and did it under new coach John East. The Wolverines won their first region championship and its first playoff game advancing to the Class A Private School state quarterfinals.

- And Wheeler, a team that just two seasons ago completed a three-year stretch where it went 1-29, returned to the state playoffs and had a winning record for the first time since 2006. For all the Wildcats success, they were awarded the opportunity to play defending champion Grayson in the first round. While Wheeler did not come out of that game as well as it had hoped, the Wildcats did set the stage for a successful 2013.

Games

- Patterned after the Corky Kell Classic — the Battle of I-75, the East-West Showdown or the Battle of the Big Chicken – whatever bad name you want to call it, McEachern hosted two games – Lassiter vs. Hillgrove and Walton took on the Indians the last day of August at Walter Cantrell Stadium, which really set the tone for another quality year for Cobb football.

After building a 37-0 halftime lead, the Trojans watched the Hawks score 29 unanswered second-half points to pull within eight points with 4 minutes to play, but could not get the ball back for a chance to tie the game.

In the nightcap, Raiders and Indians played until 1 a.m., Tyren Jones ran for 329 yards and Anthony Price kicked a 43-yard field goal to lift Walton to a 37-35 victory.

The same four teams will play again in 2013 when Walton takes on Hillgrove and Lassiter faces McEachern.

-Two weeks after the Battle of I-75, Walton traveled to Emory Sewell Stadium and was the first notable team to run into the North Cobb buzz saw. The Warriors led 21-17 at the half, but outscored the Raiders 28-0 after the break for a 49-17 victory and provided notice that North Cobb was for real.

-The Region 4AAAAAA title may have been decided on Sept. 21, thanks to a gutsy call by McEachern coach Kyle Hockman. Marietta had led its game with the Indians for the first 47:30, but a touchdown by Ty Griffin pulled McEachern within 28-27. But instead of kicking the extra point for the tie, Hockman and the Indians went for two and the win. Ty Clemmons connected with Chris Okeh for the game-winning conversion, which eventually lifted McEachern to its 15th region championship.

-South Cobb proved to be the perfect antidote for the high-scoring Warriors on Oct. 5. Carlos Saldana kicked a 39-yard field goal to send the game to overtime, and then the Cardiac Eagles did it again. South Cobb’s Stephon Masha scored on the Eagles’ first play of overtime to lift them to a 27-26 victory and their best start to a season (5-0) since 1999.

-A special Thursday night game broadcast Oct. 18 on WSB had Pope hosting Sprayberry in one of the hardest hitting affairs of the season. But the hardest hit may have come from Yellow Jackets’ kicker Rodrigo Blankenship.

The Greyhounds led 14-12 in the final minute when Blankenship, a sophomore, came in to try a 58-yard field goal to win the game. When the ball left his foot it sailed straight and true, but came up 6 inches short. The ball hit the center of the crossbar with such force that it ricocheted all the way back to the 30-yard line.

Pope won the game, but all anybody talked about was the kick.

-Lassiter entered the playoff opener as the No. 1 team in Class AAAAAA and played like it the first half of their game against Brookwood as it built a 21-0 lead, but the Broncos found their stride in the second half. Brookwood scored 24 unanswered points, the last three in overtime, to upset the Trojans.

That same night, Marietta was four hours away in Valdosta taking on Lowndes. The Blue Devils controlled the game from the start, but it wasn’t until quarterback Anthony Jennings broke free for an 88-yard fourth quarter touchdown run that Marietta secured the upset victory, and a happy bus ride home.

-The final day of November brought Cobb’s final victory of the year. North Cobb trailed Mill Creek 21-7 at the half, but the Warriors forced five second-half turnovers, which led to 35 points for a come-from-behind 42-35 victory.

Players:

-Walton’s Jones started the season with a bang. He rushed for 303 yards against Brookwood in the season opener at the Corky Kell Classic and then followed that with 329 yards against McEachern the next week. The Alabama commitment ran for 1,672 yards in eight games plus one quarter before an injury prematurely ended his season.

-Lassiter’s Eddie Printz threw for 2,959 yards this season and passed former teammate Hutson Mason for the all-time Cobb County passing record. Printz finishes his high-school career with 8,751 yards and will take his talents to the University of Missouri next season.

-Allatoona has been blessed with big-time running backs in Miles Jones and T.J. Herron the last few years, and it looks like the Bucs will have another for at least two more years. Sophomore Josh Bettistea rushed for 344 yards against North Paulding, which could be a sign of what it to come. Bettistea finished the year as Cobb’s fifth-leading rusher with 1,177 yards on only 141 carries.

-Walker’s Evan Kasian was all-state honorable mention as a freshman and got better every season. However, his senior year was better than he could have even imagined. He led the Wolverines to an 11-1 record, a region championship, the team’s first playoff victory, and while he was doing that rolled up 2,080 yards rushing and 27 touchdowns to lead the county in both categories.

-Kell’s Matthew McGuigan announced his presence for 2013 by throwing for six touchdowns in the Longhorns playoff loss to Gainesville. McGuigan finished the season as Cobb’s fifth-leading passer with 1,820 yards and 20 touchdowns.

-And Tyler Queen parlayed his solid play as a freshman into spectacular performance as a sophomore. Queen threw for 2,607 yards and 23 touchdowns. He also ran for 926 yards and 23 touchdowns. The effort was good enough to lead the Warriors to the state semifinals and a selection as the Class AAAAAA all-state first-team quarterback.

When high school football returns to the front page it will be when approximately 20, or maybe more, Cobb players sign national letters of intent to play at FBS schools. As of right now three players – Walton’s big offensive lineman Brandon Kublanow and Kell defensive backs Brendan Langley and Quincy Mauger will be heading to Georgia, and Hillgrove’s Tolando Cleveland will sign with Georgia Tech. In all, the SEC will be well represented by this year’s signing class with Printz, Jennings, Jones, Walton’s Parker McLeod (Alabama) and Jake Boynton (Kentucky), Harrison’s Jimmy Hutchinson (Auburn) and Hillgrove’s Evan Engram (Ole Miss). The same can be said for the ACC with Marietta’s Tyree Harris (Wake Forest), McEachern’s Jajuan Dulaney (Maryland), Lassiter’s Ryan Jenkins (Clemson), and Walker’s Mike Ramsay (Duke) also ready to sign on the dotted line.

Following National Signing Day, spring practice will soon follow, then summer workouts and in 241 days, we’ll line up and do it all again.
Comments
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OG in Cobb
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December 26, 2012
Cobb will have a hard time winning a state championship if things don't change. Cobb County Football is the butt of all High School Football Jokes in Georgia.

The talent has always been in Cobb County. The problem is coaching. If the Cobb County school board keeps recycling the same coaches nothing will change. Maybe the new coach at Harrison will give a new look. Let's see if he can get the support staff necessary to win. Doubt it.
Football fan
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December 27, 2012
OG in Cobb-you hit the nail on the head with a sledge hammer, Cobb County coaches kill there teams chances year in and year out because the schools wanna keep home grown boys on the coaching staff, Lassiter went out and got the Hoover boys and completely changed that program around, I think N cobb and Mcearchen are tops rite now, there coaches play to win and will put the points up to prove. Walton needs to take notes and follow suit, if you can beat a team by 50 then so be it, get up and work on situations that may occur down the road,
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