PREP FOOTBALL ROUNDUP: Americus-Sumter coach WIlson resigns; three teams win state titles Saturday

Photo by Brant Sanderlin

Photo by Brant Sanderlin

AMERICUS -- Mark Wilson resigned this week as Americus-Sumter's football coach.

After being asked if he resigned voluntarily, he said no, adding, "They wanted to go in a different direction."

"I did what I thought was the best thing for all of us," Wilson said. "During the past four years, we didn't win enough games. That's basically it. We had a lot of close losses the last couple of years and just couldn't get over the hump. It was a pretty tough region, and I felt like we were maybe a play or two away."

Wilson, who isalso the athletic director, added he plans to stay on with the school through the rest of the year and also teach health. His record at Americus-Sumter through the past four seasons was 15-27. Through 18 seasons altogether, including previous head coaching jobs at Jefferson, Lamar County and White County, Wilson's record is 94-94-1.



Savannah Christian had no answer for Wilcox County quarterback Nick Marshall.

The junior ran for two touchdowns and passed for another as the Patriots won 30-21 on Saturday to take the Georgia High School Association Class A state championship at the Georgia Dome.

Marshall, who had 330 total yards, clinched the victory with a 12-yard touchdown pass to Marcus Griffin on fourth down with 36 seconds remaining before adding his third two-point conversion completion.

Marshall had put Wilcox County (13-2) ahead for good with 7:58 remaining on a 5-yard TD run and two-point pass to Jatarius Jackson. Marshall was 14 of 23 passing for 244 yards and ran 13 times for another 86 yards.

"The QB is something special," Savannah Christian coach Donald Chumley said. "Best I ve ever seen. Certainly the best we ve played."

The state title was the first for Wilcox County, coached by Mark Ledford. The Patriots only other championship game appearance came in 2007, when they lost to Emanuel County Institute 41-21.

Chris Barnwell gained 143 yards on 37 carries for Savannah Christian (14-1). The Red Raiders, who got two touchdowns from T.J. Franklin, didn t throw a pass until the closing seconds, their triple-option in complete contrast to Patriots wide-open offense.

"Coach told us that we d beat them with speed and we did," Wilcox County senior receiver Lonnie Outlaw said.

Savannah Christian took a 21-14 the lead on Franklin s 15-yard run on fourth down with 8:33 remaining and Timothy McCarthy s third conversion kick. But Wilcox County came right back, a falling catch by Tay Porter for 47 yards setting up Marshall s second TD run.

Wilcox County tied the game at 14 late in the third quarter on Marshall s 1-yard run and two-point conversion pass to Quez Mahoganey. Marshall had a 29-yard pass to Outlaw and a 16-yard run on the drive.

Savannah Christian had scored midway in the third quarter on a 2-yard run by Harrison Curry that climaxed a drive in which Wilcox County was penalized three times for personal fouls.

Savannah Christian controlled the ball for 18 of the 24 minutes in the first half, but led just 7-6 and was out-gained 162-154 by Wilcox County.

The Red Raiders went 74 yards in 15 plays after the opening kickoff, with Franklin getting the touchdown on a 3-yard run with 3:55 left in the first quarter.

The Patriots answered, with Jamaal Holmes scoring on a 4-yard run with 2:35 left in the opening quarter following a 38-yard pass from Marshall to Jonathan Howard. The extra point was blocked by Kenny Katzman.

Savannah Christian was making its first GHSA championship appearance after winning seven titles in the Georgia Independent School Association.



Camden County is a perfect 3-for-3 in Georgia High School Association state championship games.

Ean Days returned the opening kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown and the Wildcats routed Northside-Warner Robins 31-3 to repeat as Class AAAAA champions on Saturday night.

Steven Murphy had a 67-yard punt return for a score and also caught a 43-yard touchdown pass from Joel Ruiz as Camden County won its third title in seven years and the fourth overall for coach Jeff Herron, who claimed a Class AAA championship at Oconee County in 1999.

"It feels great, I'm not going to lie," Herron said. "A lot of people thought we couldn't do it this year after we got off to a 1-2 start. But this team never gave up."

Camden County (13-2) led 21-0 against Northside (13-2) before the game was 6 minutes old. Murphy had his punt return and Darius Sullivan scored from a yard out after Jeremiah Booth had stolen a shovel pass at Northside's 20-yard line.

Northside, which won Class AAAA state titles in 2006 and 2007, finally stopped the Camden County onslaught with a 42-yard field goal by Devon Pike with 5 minutes left in the first quarter.

Camden County is 121-13 for the decade, while Northside is 121-14 since 2000. Buford is the only school in the state with more victories. The Wolves are 139-7 with six state titles -- five in Class AA and one in Class A.

Northside fumbled the second-half kickoff and turned it over again on its next possession. Matt Ehasz missed a 40-yard field goal after the first fumble, but kicked a 41-yarder with 7:18 left in the third quarter after the second.

Ruiz's touchdown pass to Murphy came with 9:54 to play. It was just the Wildcats' third pass of the game.

Camden County allowed just 39 points in its five postseason victories and shut out explosive North Gwinnett 35-0 in the quarterfinals.



Gainesville gambled and lost, going for the win rather than overtime with the Red Elephants' first state football title on the line.

Luke Crowell knocked down a two-point conversion pass after Gainesville scored a touchdown with no time left and preserved Peach County's 13-12 victory in the Georgia High School Association Class AAA state championship game Saturday.

Blake Sims threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Michael Lorentz as time expired at the Georgia Dome, but Gainesville came up short after going for the victory rather than trying to force overtime by kicking for the extra point.

Sims tried to connect with Tai-ler Jones on a slant pattern, but Crowell stepped in front to deflect the pass away.

"I didn't want to go overtime with them," Gainesville coach Bruce Miller said.

The Red Elephants' inability to kick an extra point after their first touchdown earlier in the fourth quarter also figured into his thinking.

"We were a little shaky on our first kick," Miller said.

The win completed a 15-0 season for Peach County and was the Trojans' third state title in five seasons. They also won in 2005 and 2006.

Crowell scored a second-quarter touchdown on a 9-yard run and had one of Peach County's three interceptions, returning the ball 55 yards to set up what proved to be the deciding 25-yard field goal by Rustin Evatt with 3:04 left.

Gainesville (14-1) was playing in its sixth state championship game and is still looking for its first title. The Red Elephants' most recent championship game had been in 1982.

Sims threw a 49-yard TD pass to Jones with 10:48 to play on the first play after Tevin Yarbrough recovered a Travis Richmond fumble. But Reid Almand missed the extra point.

Sims completed 14 of 29 passes for 205 yards but was intercepted twice. Jontavious Davis picked off Sims once and also intercepted a halfback pass by Lorentz.

"We knew he'd throw it up, and he did," Crowell said of Sims.

Peach County led 10-0 at halftime, on a 32-yard field goal by Evatt on the last play of the first quarter and Crowell's scoring run with 1:39 remaining in the half. The touchdown was set up by a 42-yard pass from Patrick Taylor to Lamar Zanders.

Taylor completed 12 of 18 passes for 169 yards and wasn't intercepted.

The state championship was the first for Peach County coach Chad Campbell, an assistant on the Trojans' two previous title teams.

Campbell's brother, Lee, won Class A state championships at Hawkinsville in 2003 and 2004.