Friday night wrap: 4 defending state champions go down

The Georgia high school football season began two weeks ago, but the page on the 2018 season officially turned Friday night, when four reigning state champions were beaten.

Milton in Class AAAAAAA, Lee County of AAAAAA, Blessed Trinity of AAAA and Heard County of AA each went down. Lee County and Blessed Trinity were two-time defending champions and the only Georgia teams to finish 15-0 in 2018.

Buford, the No. 2 team from AAAAA, beat Milton 26-23 in a game postponed from Aug. 23. The two teams, playing each other for the first time since the 1980s, were scheduled to meet in the Corky Kell Classic at Coolray Field, but bad weather moved them to Milton two weeks later.

Buford led 26-10 entering the fourth quarter and held on.

Peach County, ranked No. 1 in AAA, defeated Lee County 40-17, avenging a 33-0 loss from 2018. Lee had won 22 straight games over Georgia opponents dating to 2017 and 44 straight over non-region opponents dating to 2009.

Woodward Academy, ranked No. 7 in AAAA, defeated Blessed Trinity 13-10, avenging a 43-21 loss from 2018. Woodward had been 0-3 against Blessed Trinity all-time. It was Woodward’s first victory over a No. 1-ranked team in the same classification since 1979, when the War Eagles beat Dalton.

Hapeville Charter, ranked No. 2 in AA and the 2017 champion, defeated Heard County 61-7. Hapeville also beat Heard 33-3 in 2018 but lost in the second round while Heard responded with 12 straight wins to claim its first state championship.

Another defending champion, Clinch County, passed a good test Friday. Ranked No. 1 in the Class A public-school division, Clinch beat No. 7 Brooks County of AA 38-14.

In other big games around the state, Lowndes, Allatoona, Jones County, Dublin and Wesleyan came away with signature wins.

Lowndes, ranked No. 7 in the highest classification, defeated No. 3 Parkview 38-7. Lowndes has beaten the Panthers three of the past four seasons in a rivalry between Gwinnett County and south Georgia powers.

No. 8 Allatoona beat No. 6 Creekview 37-7 in a Region 6-AAAAAA game. Creekview is that region’s defending champion.

Jones County, the No. 8 team in AAAAA, beat No. 7 Northside-Warner Robins of AAAAAA 56-33. Those are the most points ever scored in a game against Northside. Jones County’s new coach is Mike Chastain, a Northside alumnus who guided Warner Robins to state finals the past two seasons.

No. 4 Dublin beat No. 8 Swainsboro 35-13 in a game between 2018 region champions in AA.

In the Class A private-school division, No. 5 Wesleyan beat No. 3 Prince Avenue Christian 24-14. Wesleyan lost to Prince Avenue twice last season – 49-28 in the regular season and 42-27 in the playoffs.

In other matchups between ranked teams, No. 5 Dutchtown of AAAAA beat No. 10 Crisp County of AAA 19-17, and No. 7 Hart County of AAA beat No. 5 Commerce of A 40-20.

A few unranked teams beat top-10 opponents. Flowery Branch of AAAA defeated No. 9 Clarke Central of AAAAA 38-0, and Taylor County beat No. 7 Turner County 12-7 in a game between Class A public schools.

Flowery Branch’s win showed the team is still a contender despite losing Elijah Gainey, a South Alabama commit, for the season with a knee injury just days before the opener.

Fourteen games involving Georgia teams this week were canceled or postponed because of Hurricane Dorian. One has been declared a forfeit as Camden County got a victory when Locust Grove declined to travel over weather and traffic concerns on the coast.