Marietta is Georgia’s most high-profile football team in the national rankings. Those rankings can only rise after the Blue Devils defeated St. Joseph’s Prep of Philadelphia 21-17 on Friday night at Marietta’s Northcutt Stadium before an ESPNU audience.
St. Joseph’s entered ranked No. 4 by High School Football America and No. 11 by USA Today and led 17-14 in the final minutes, but Marietta’s Harrison Bailey, a Tennessee commit, led his team back and threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Ricky White, a Michigan State commit, with 14 seconds left for the winning score.
The victory validated Marietta’s four top-25 national rankings, including the high mark of No. 9 in USA Today. Marietta is ranked No. 1 in Georgia’s Class AAAAAAA, though the football team has not won a state title since 1967 nor advanced beyond the state quarterfinals in 25 years.
St. Joseph’s had more experience on the national stage. It is the the alma mater of Georgia running back D’Andre Swift and is the reigning Class 6A champion of Pennsylvania. It has a quarterback committed to Ohio State and the famous names of Marvin Harrison Jr. and Jeremiah Trotter Jr., the sons of former NFL stars, on its roster.
Marietta wasn’t the only impressive Georgia team in an inter-state game on the second weekend of the high school season.
North Gwinnett, ranked No. 10 in AAAAAAA, beat Armwood, Fla., 26-23 in overtime. Armwood, the alma mater of North Gwinnett coach Bill Stewart, entered ranked No. 2 in Florida’s Class 7A.
Westlake opened the C1N Georgia vs. Alabama football showcase at Lakewood Stadium with a 30-14 victory over Jeff Davis of Montgomery.
Several other top teams in Georgia faced threats from ranked teams but came through.
Lee County, the No. 1 team in AAAAAA, beat Life Christian of Virginia 27-0. Life Christian brought four of Virginia’s top-50 senior recruits but was no match for Georgia’s two-time defending champion.
Bainbridge, the defending champion in AAAAA, beat No. 6 Cairo of AAAA 14-10. Bainbridge closed the gap in that old south Georgia series to 35-33-7.
Eagle’s Landing Christian, the four-time defending Class A private-school champion, avenged a 2018 loss with a 49-0 victory over No. 6 Pace Academy of AA. Pace had ended ELCA’s 37-game losing streak last season in a 17-16 victory. ELCA has now won 51 of its past 52 games.
Marist, ranked No. 4 in AAAA, won 49-0 against No. 5 Lovett of AAA. Lovett was coming off an overtime upset against Greater Atlanta Christian the previous week.
Irwin County, the No. 2 team in the Class A public-school division, defeated No. 4 Fitzgerald of AA 35-8. Irwin beat Fitzgerald 16-10 last season, ending a 0-17-1 drought against the Hurricanes, but was the underdog this season because Irwin’s best player, running back D.J. Lundy, is out with a knee injury. The victory also was meaningful to Irwin coach Buddy Nobles, who was diagnosed with stomach cancer earlier this month. Nobles first came to Georgia as an assistant coach at Fitzgerald.
Several unranked teams beat ranking teams Friday. Among those were Ware County (23-10 over No. 8 Burke County of AAAA), West Laurens (16-13 over No. 7 Crisp County of AAA), Brantley County (34-16 over No. 6 Charlton County of A) and Holy Innocents’ (28-21 over No. 7 Hebron Christian of A).
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Credit: Channel 2 Action News