A Dublin Fighting Irish fan holds up a newspaper in the waning moments of Dublin's 42-32 win over the Brooks County Trojans in the Class AA championship on Friday, 13, Dec. 2019 at Georgia State Stadium. (Adam Krohn/for the AJC)

Class AA blog: Season recap

The 2019 Class AA season began with Callaway ranked No. 1 in the preseason poll and ended with the Dublin Fighting Irish claiming the championship with a 42-32 win over the Brooks County Trojans.

Here are the final rankings:

1. Dublin (14-1)

2. Brooks County (10-5)

3. Callaway (12-2)

4. Thomasville (9-5)

5. Hapeville Charter (10-2)

6. Rabun County (12-1)

7. Rockmart (11-1)

8. Fitzgerald (8-4)

9. Douglass (11-2)

10. Metter (10-3)

The days leading up to the championship gave us a chance to remember the BC3 and take a look at how the Trojans and Fighting Irish made it to the season’s final game.

Though the Fighting Irish taking home the AA hardware was the final chapter of the season, there were still a number of storylines. Let’s take a look back at some of them:

  • Historic five-way tie for first place in Region 2 narrowly avoidedIt’s hard to believe, but we were four points away from seeing the first five-way tie for a region title in GHSA history. Jeff Davis lost 15-12 to Metter in the regular season finale, but had they won Metter, Jeff Davis, Toombs County, Swainsboro and Vidalia all would have ended the season with a 4-2 region record. That would have led to a huge controversy given that there would have been more first-place teams than playoff spots.
  • What could have been for Rockmart: The Yellow Jackets steamrolled into the playoffs with a 10-0 record for the second season in a row and appeared destined for another deep postseason run. But in the first round against Temple, quarterback Javin Whatley — whom the offense was centered around — went down with a season-ending knee injury and they were never the same, losing 41-3 in the second round to eventual finalist Brooks County.
  • The continued emergence of Tank Bigsby: He was already a highly-recruited running back when he took his game to another level in last year’s playoffs. He picked up where he left off this season, starting as an AJC Super 11 selection and ending with Rivals.com boosting his status to a five-star rating and ranking him the country’s No. 1 running back. Bigsby is committed to Auburn along with his Cavaliers teammate Tate Johnson, where they’ll team up with class of ‘19 Cavs lineman Keiondre Jones.
  • Jeff Davis suffers tragedy then starts 6-0: Just weeks before the season began, Yellow Jackets linebacker Jordan Bavaro was killed in a car accident. The team would rally around Bavaro’s memory to win their first six games of the season — their best start since 1997.
  • New coach, same results for Rabun County: First-year coach Jaybo Shaw took over for his father, Lee Shaw, and led the Wildcats to their third undefeated regular season in the last four years and a sixth consecutive Region 8 title. With Gunner Stockton rated by 247 Sports as the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback for the Class of ‘22, the future is looking bright.
  • Thomasville rebounds from 1-3 and 2-4 start to reach semis: Entering the season with the nation’s top pro-style quarterback, Chad Mascoe, being poached from them by national-recruiting football machine IMG Academy, the Bulldogs got off to a rough start but rallied to win Region 1 and make their deepest playoff run since 1993.

We now close the book on the football season. Next year, AA will look completely different with the GHSA’s reclassification moving Brooks County, Dublin, Screven County, Hapeville Charter, Douglass and Rockmart among others out, while most notably adding Pace Academy and Lovett.

With that, congratulations to the Dublin Fighting Irish.

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