ALBANY -- Deerfield-Windsor's quest for its first back-to-back state championships fell short Friday night in a 42-24 defeat to George Walton.
Twenty miles up U.S. Highway 82, the mood was far different. Terrell Academy completed the defense of its Class A state title with a 28-12 victory over Thomas Jefferson.
The Knights (12-3) won the Class AAA title in 2008 with a home victory against Westfield, but a year later were overpowered by a bigger George Walton offense that ran up 306 yards of offense without one passing yard.
The loss snapped Deerfield-Windsor's 11-game winning streak. DWS opened the season with a 16-6 loss to George Walton and the Bulldogs were the only team the Knights didn't beat on their schedule this year.
"(Friday night) was a tough matchup up front," DWS head coach Allen Lowe said. "Our kids kept battling. We turned the ball over, and I give George Walton a lot of credit -- they just knocked us off the ball."
Deerfield graduates only eight seniors from this year's team, but that includes the school's career rushing leader, Tony Zenon, who finished his time with the Knights by gaining 216 yards.
The story, meanwhile, was much different for coach Bill Murdock's Eagles. Terrell Academy led 21-0 at halftime and never looked back against the same Thomas Jefferson program it clobbered, 61-26, in last year's title game. The only uncertainty Terrrell had to deal with Friday was whether coaching legend Don Beard, suffering from the flu, would be on the sidelines. Beard, who guided the team to three state titles during the 1990s and is now an assistant, canceled his pregame meal but arrived at the coach's office around 5:30 p.m. and was present for the contest.
On the field Friday, Terrell Academy accounted for 153 rushing yards, 148 of which were gained by senior running back Cole Byrd. Byrd, who scored two touchdowns, was only part of a big-play Eagles offense that also scored on a trick play. The 28-0 lead the Eagles held after scoring on their first third-quarter series was too much for Thomas Jefferson to overcome.
There was only one thing that made this year's victory more special in the eyes of the team's seniors. Unlike last year, the team could enjoy the championship on its home field.
"All my friends are here to celebrate it with us (Friday)," Eagles senior quarterback Cole Phillips said. "This one will be special because of that."