Bainbridge defeated Warner Robins 47-41 in the Class AAAAA final last week in Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Bainbridge lost to the same opponent 38-0 in the regular season.
Photo: John Amis/Special
Photo: John Amis/Special

Final football poll: Historic upsets shape 2018 championships

The eight state champions are each No. 1 in the final Atlanta Journal-Constitution high school football rankings.

No surprise there, but there were plenty of surprises in the state finals last week. Upsets and ultimate revenge were the themes of the championship games played Tuesday and Wednesday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

According to the computer Maxwell Ratings, which analyzed scores of every season and all 338 state finals played since 1948, three of the six biggest state-finals upsets occurred this year.

One was Milton’s 14-13 victory over Colquitt County in Class AAAAAAA. Milton hadn’t played in finals in its 69 seasons of varsity football, and Colquitt County was 14-0 and ranked in the top five nationally. But that wasn’t taken into account. It was just the match of this season’s scores and ratings that led Maxwell to assign Colquitt County as a 21-point favorite.

But an even bigger upset occurred in the AAAAA final. Bainbridge defeated Warner Robins 47-41 in three overtimes, the longest game in state finals history. Warner Robins had defeated Bainbridge 38-0 in the regular season. Bainbridge was only 5-5. Warner Robins was 12-2, but one loss was a victory overturned by forfeit, the other against Colquitt, a bigger school. 

The Bainbridge-Warner Robins game, by Maxwell’s calculations, is the biggest upset in state finals history over any classification, beating Westminster’s win over Blessed Trinity in the 2015 final, also in overtime.

Bainbridge became the third team in history to win a state title after going .500 or worse in the regular season after 1965 West Rome and 1992 Thomas County Central.

And then there was Heard County beating Rockmart 27-6 in Class AA. Rockmart entered 14-0 and had beaten Heard County 33-0 in the regular season in a two-quarter game. 

Bainbridge and Heard County weren’t the only teams to avenge regular-season losses in the finals. Clinch County did it, too. The Panthers defeated Irwin County 27-20 in the Class A public-school division. That was Clinch County’s eighth state title. Only Valdosta (24), Buford (11) and Lincoln County (11) have won more in the GHSA.

Not everything was surprising in the state finals, though.

Lee County beat Northside-Warner Robins 14-0 in AAAAAA. Lee County became the eighth team in history to win every game by at least 14 points, the third while playing as many as 15 games. The others were 1994 Washington County and 2016 Benedictine. As Georgia’s most dominant team, Lee County has accepted an invitation to play in the GEICO State Champions Bowl Series against St. Francis Academy of Maryland on Saturday in a game to be televised by ESPNU.

Blessed Trinity defeated Cartersville 23-9 in AAAA. Blessed Trinity has won back-to-back state titles. Cartersville’s four-year record is now 55-2 – 11th best record of its kind in state history – and both losses are against Blessed Trinity.

Eagle’s Landing defeated Athens Academy 44-17 in the Class A private-school final. ELCA has won four straight state titles, a feat matched only by West Rome (1982-85) and Buford (2007-10).

Class AAAAAAA

  1. (8) Milton (13-2)
  2. (1) Colquitt County (14-1)
  3. (9) Archer (11-3)
  4. (3) Parkview (11-1)
  5. (4) Hillgrove (12-1)
  6. (NR) Lowndes (10-4)
  7. (2) Grayson (10-3)
  8. (7) North Gwinnett (10-3)
  9. (NR) Tift County (8-5)
  10. (5) Walton (10-2)

Class AAAAAA

  1. (1) Lee County (15-0)
  2. (5) Northside-Warner Robins (9-6)
  3. (8) Dacula (11-3)
  4. (2) Creekview (12-1)
  5. (3) Valdosta (8-5)
  6. (NR) Lanier (10-4)
  7. (10) Sequoyah (10-3)
  8. (NR) Allatoona (8-4)
  9. (NR) Coffee (9-4)
  10. (6) Harrison (9-3)

Class AAAAA

  1. (NR) Bainbridge (10-5)
  2. (3) Warner Robins (12-3)
  3. (1) Rome (13-1)
  4. (2) Buford (10-3)
  5. (4) Dutchtown (12-1)
  6. (7) Stockbridge (12-2)
  7. (5) Wayne County (11-1)
  8. (8) Jones County (8-3)
  9. (10) Carrollton (10-3)
  10. (NR) Clarke Central (8-5)

Class AAAA

  1. (1) Blessed Trinity (15-0)
  2. (2) Cartersville (14-1)
  3. (6) Marist (11-3)
  4. (3) Mary Persons (12-1)
  5. (9) Troup (12-2)
  6. (4) St. Pius X (10-2)
  7. (5) Eastside (12-1)
  8. (NR) Cairo (10-3)
  9. (7) Pickens (11-1)
  10. (NR) North Oconee (9-3)

Class AAA

  1. (2) Cedar Grove (14-1)
  2. (4) Peach County (12-3)
  3. (1) Calhoun (13-1)
  4. (9) Pierce County (13-1)
  5. (3) Monroe Area (12-1)
  6. (5) Benedictine (11-2)
  7. (10) Westminster (Atlanta) (8-5)
  8. (6) Greater Atlanta Christian (9-3)
  9. (7) Dawson County (10-2)
  10. (NR) Pace Academy (6-5)

Class AA

  1. (3) Heard County (13-2)
  2. (2) Rockmart (14-1)
  3. (4) Callaway (11-3)
  4. (6) Dublin (11-2)
  5. (NR) Fitzgerald (10-4)
  6. (10) Washington County (10-3)
  7. (5) Brooks County (9-3)
  8. (1) Hapeville Charter (10-2)
  9. (7) Bremen (9-3)
  10. (8) Rabun County (11-2)

Class A (Public)

  1. (2) Clinch County (13-1)
  2. (1) Irwin County (13-1)
  3. (3) Pelham (12-1)
  4. (4) Marion County (12-1)
  5. (5) Mount Zion (Carroll) (10-2)
  6. (10) Commerce (10-3)
  7. (6) Charlton County (8-4)
  8. (7) Greene County (9-3)
  9. (8) Schley County (9-3)
  10. (9) Mitchell County (8-3)

Class A (Private)

  1. (1) Eagle's Landing Christian (13-1)
  2. (2) Athens Academy (13-1)
  3. (3) Prince Avenue Christian (11-2)
  4. (4) Savannah Christian (11-2)
  5. (8) Calvary Day (10-2)
  6. (6) North Cobb Christian (10-2)
  7. (7) Fellowship Christian (10-2)
  8. (10) Darlington (9-3)
  9. (5) George Walton Academy (8-3)
  10. (NR) Hebron Christian Academy (6-6)

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