DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – From Norcross to Dawsonville excitement is building for The Game of the Year in Region 7-AAA: No. 8 Dawson County (7-1, 5-0) vs. No. 1-ranked Greater Atlanta Christian (8-1, 5-0) Friday in Tiger Stadium for the championship.
High school football fans know this clash was inevitable. For weeks, the Tigers and Spartans have bludgeoned their opponents into submission, often scoring in the high 40s and 50s. Both have lost only once and those setbacks were in overtime, early-season games.
On paper, they are as evenly matched as two teams can be.
Dawson County has outscored its opponents by an average of 42-17. GAC has won by an average of 39-13. The Tigers have averaged 213 yards rushing and 185 yards passing per game. GAC averages 191 yards rushing and 180 yards passing.
At the all-important quarterback position, the Spartans are led by Stanford commit Davis Mills, who has passed for 1,331 yards and completed 69 percent of his attempts for a quarterback rating (QBR) of 143.4. The Tigers are led by Coey Watson, the 2015 Player of the Year who has passed for 1,440 yards and completed 60 percent of his passes for a QBR of 118.6.
GAC has the region’s best runner in Kyler McMichael, a 6-2, 195-pound blue-chip athlete who has run for 957 yards and 12 touchdowns. McMichael already has scholarship offers from LSU, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Michigan and Michigan State.
Dawson County counters with a stable of solid running backs, led by Watson who has gained 555 yards on the ground, Payton Myers who had 515 yards and nine touchdowns. Taylor Cronan, who has dealt with a nagging shoulder injury all season, still averages 7.7 yards per carry and flashy Nasser Clark, who just transferred from White County.
Defensively, the Tigers have three players averaging double-digit tackles per game. Senior linebacker Luke Martin is scary good with the ability to cover sideline to sideline. Martin averages 15 stops per game, followed by safeties Colin Glover with 12.7 and Jeremy Whalen who averages 10 stops per game and has a team-leading three interceptions.
GACs defense is led by senior safety Davis Markham who averages seven tackles, Devin Thomas (6.3) and linebacker Robby Fowler (5.2).
In a close game, special teams is often the deciding factor. Dawson County has a flat-out game changer in Kolton Brumbelow. The speedy senior, who didn’t play football until this year, has averaged an amazing 83 yards on four kickoff returns, including touchdown runs of 99, 95 and 99 yards.
Both teams have reliable place kickers. Sean Henderson has connected on 31 of 32 extra point attempts and Brooks Buce has converted 10 of 11 and added a 54-yard field goal. The Tigers Cole Dennis has converted 21 of 22 PATs and Payton Allen is perfect on his three extra point attempts.
This is the one everyone has waited for. If you’re planning to go to the game, better get there early. The weather is expected to be perfect, the stands are expected to be filled and Tiger Stadium is expected to be rocking.
DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – Highly-motivated Lumpkin County is next up for Coach Sid Maxwell’s Dawson County Tigers and the Indians would like nothing better than to swing into Tiger Stadium Friday and upset the state’s No. 10-ranked Class AAA team.
Lumpkin County (4-4, 2-2) is still hoping to earn the second seed in the Region 7-AAA playoffs. They could achieve that with a win Friday should the Tigers lose to No. 1-ranked Greater Atlanta Christian next week.
But that is a very big mountain to climb. The Tigers (7-1, 4-0) are unbeaten at home this year and currently riding a five-game win streak. Since an early-season double overtime loss to West Hall, no has come within 14 points of beating Dawson County.
Coach Shane Williamson’s Indians feature a ground-and-pound offense led by a trio of good runners who average better than 6 yards per carry. Senior fullback Zach Matthews is the leading rusher with 1,152 yards and an average of 6.1 yards per carry. Running back Cole White is next, having rushed for 627 yards and an average of 7.5 yards per carry, followed by quarterback Chandler Woodham with 580 yards rushing and an average of 6.1 yards per carry.
But Lumpkin County appears to pass out of necessity. Woodham has a completion average of just 34.9 and has only passed for an average of 28.4 yards per game.
Dawson County should be a highly motivated bunch also. A victory sends the Tigers into a much-anticipated showdown with GAC next week for the Region 7-AAA championship in Tiger Stadium. And these Tigers have a lot of weapons on offense, defense and special teams.
Quarterback Coey Watson has amassed 1,756 yards in total offense and accounted for 24 touchdowns. Payton Myers has rushed for 452 yards and scored seven touchdowns.
The wide receivers are dangerous Austin Young, who averages 18.9 yards on 36 receptions and has scored seven touchdowns. Speedy Nick Murphy averages 16.2 yards per catch and has scored four touchdowns.
The Tigers defense is one of the region’s best. At East Hall last week, they turned in three goal line stands, holding the Vikings scoreless on three trips inside the 10-yard line. Linebacker Luke Martin is the ring leader. He has 121 total tackles for an average of 17.3 per game including 16 tackles for a loss. Defensive back Colin Glover averages 12.7 tackles per game and Jeremy Whalen averages 10.
Dawson County’s opponents are learning to kick the ball away from Kolton Brumbelow who has scored on kickoff returns of 95 and 99 yards.
Defeating Dawson County in Tiger Stadium may be too formidable a task for the Indians.