When Jadon Haselwood secured the game-winning touchdown pass with 4 seconds left to lift Cedar Grove over Peach County in the Class AAA title game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium Tuesday, he did it in memory of his friend and in the jersey number of his teammate — whose life was cut short after graduation last year.
The 22-yard pass from Kendall Boney not only put Cedar Grove ahead of Peach County 14-13 with single digit seconds left, but it sent a wave of emotion as the Saints’ faithful celebrated on the sidelines and from the stands.
“It means more,” said Haselwood, who wore No. 11 instead of his regular No. 2, as a tribute to his fallen teammate. “I think everybody knows that one of my,” he said before correcting himself. “One of OUR teammates passed away, and I wore his jersey number today. I feel like he is looking down and seeing us win it.”
Trevon Richardson, a 2017 graduate from Cedar Grove, was gunned down outside of his apartment just days after graduation this past May. His death rocked the team as it prepared to take on a caliber of schedule that few Class AAA programs would fathom to take.
Richardson’s mother, Nicole, worked as a registrar at the school and her son was a star athlete on the football, basketball and track teams and was planning to play football at Valdosta State.
This one, according to the entire Cedar Grove family, was for Trevon.
The outcome in the title game could have had a much less inspiring ending, however, as Cedar Grove’s offensive line was flagged for three false starts on the final drive before the desperation third-down heave to Haselwood.
“We false-started like three or four times,” reflected Haselwood. “We kept the same call and I knew we were going to score. [Peach County] had one safety in front of me, but I wasn’t worried about him because I would just run by him. I was worried about the second guy but he came in too late and we ended up winning.”
Peach County struck first on a 48-yard field goal from Rene Galan with 1:43 left in the second quarter. Boney gave Cedar Grove its first lead on a 12-yard run at 6:39 in the third quarter. Peach County got back in front on a 2-yard run by Noah Whittington at the end of the third quarter, before Haselwood’s game-winner in the final seconds.
“It means a lot,” said Cedar Grove head coach Jimmy Smith on the emotions of this title in consideration of the Saints’ 2016 AAA title. “Jadon had on No. 11 for a reason, man. We played this game in dedication to Trevon Richardson. His mom is here. We dedicated this to No. 11 and it worked out.”
Boney was 6-of-10 passing for 101 yards and a touchdown and rushed for a score. Haselwood finished with two catches for 42 yards and the game-winner. Montre Monfort led all players with seven tackles. Rashad Cheney and Latrelvin Blackam had 6.5 tackles. Haselwood also made four tackles.
Peach County’s Jaydon Gibson was 12 of 20 passing for 130 yards. Whittington rushed for 39 yards and 1 touchdown on 14 carries. Clemson commit Sergio Allen had 6.5 tackles. Terkel Jefferson made 5.5 tackles and ZaViann Bonner made 5 tackles.
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