Mount Paran Christian's Dorian Walker had the most impressive individual performance statistically in the state championships over the weekend at the Georgia Dome.
The senior running back rushed for 215 yards and three touchdowns as the Eagles rolled to a 49-7 victory over Eagle's Landing Christian in the Class A private-school final. Only 10 players have had more yards rushed in a championship game in finals history.
The championship was the first for Mount Paran and the first for a Cobb County-based team since Marietta in 1967. The victory also made Mount Paran the first team in Cobb history to record an undefeated season.
There were other outstanding performances in the finals, as well. Not all of them were accompanied by the eye-popping statistics that Walker had, and some even came in losing causes.
Here are 10 more players who stood out on the biggest stage:
*Micah Abernathy (Greater Atlanta Christian): The senior running back/defensive back and teammate Darius Slayton accounted for almost all of GAC's total yardage in its 45-21 loss to Benedictine in the Class AA final. Abernathy had 193 yards rushing, scored the Spartans' first two touchdowns on runs of 58 and 9 yards and caught a 21-yard pass. He also had two solo tackles, an assist and a fumble recovery on defense. Slayton had 102 receiving yards on five catches and 111 yards on four kickoff returns. Abernathy, who is ranked as the No. 20 prospect in Georgia and the nation's No. 21 cornerback in the 247Sports Composite ratings, has committed to Tennessee.
*Asahnia Aderhold (Mays): The senior quarterback completed only 14 of 34 passes, but those numbers don't accurately reflect how well he played, particularly early, during the Raiders' 25-18 loss to Northside of Warner Robins in the Class AAAAA final. Aderhold was 10-for-19 for 207 yards in the first half as Mays built an 18-7 lead. He threw two touchdown passes to Randrecous Davis (76 and 29 yards) and another to Tyshawn Brown (19 yards) for 18 consecutive points after Northside had taken a 7-0 lead. Aderhold finished with 290 yards passing to give him 2,111 for the season. Davis had six catches for 158 yards, almost half as much yardage as he had for the season (337) coming into the game.
*Aaron Auer (Buford): It's not easy to put up big numbers for a Buford team that crushes its opponents and uses a lot of players in the process, but the senior wide receiver managed to do it in the Wolves' 55-10 victory over St. Pius in the Class AAAA final. Auer finished with four receptions for 126 yards and two touchdowns. His 39-yard reception from receiver Brandon Marsh gave the Wolves the lead for good at 14-10 late in the first quarter, and he added a 60-yard TD catch from QB Luke Humphrey in the third quarter. Auer came into the game with 16 receptions for 272 yards and two touchdowns for the season on a team that gets about 75 percent of its offense from the running game.
*A.J. Gray (Washington County): Gray, one of the leading candidates for state player of the year, put up his usual big numbers in the Golden Hawks' 27-20 loss to Calhoun in the Class AA final. He had 122 yards and two touchdowns rushing and 142 yards passing, giving him 4,168 yards of total offense and 60 combined TDs for the season. He also led the team with five tackles. But it was a play in the fourth quarter for which he did not get credit that Washington County fans probably will remember the most. Gray appeared to have interception that would have stopped a Calhoun drive that had reached midfield, but it was ruled an incomplete pass. Calhoun scored the winning touchdown four plays later.
*Sihiem King (Colquitt County): The senior running back has a knack for coming up with big performances when they're needed the most, and he showed that again in the Packers' 28-24 victory over Archer in the Class AAAAAA final. Although his 125 rushing yards were far from a season high, 103 of those yards came on the two most important drives of the game. King carried seven times for 54 yards and a touchdown on an 80-yard drive late in the first half that gave Colquitt County the lead for good at 21-17. He also carried on nine consecutive plays on the Packers' final drive, picking up 49 yards and three first downs and enabling his team to run the final 4:48 off the clock.
*Tobias Oliver (Northside): Mays held Northside running back Willie Jordan to his second-fewest yards of the season (73 yards on 24 carries) and kept him from scoring a touchdown for just the second time, so it was up to Oliver to get things going after Northside trailed 18-7 at halftime in the Class AAAAA final. The sophomore quarterback rushed for 120 yards in the second half and a season-best 152 overall and threw a 70-yard touchdown pass to Nate Greene in the third quarter that got Northside within 18-14. Oliver's 47-yard touchdown run with 8:31 remaining provided the winning points in a 25-18 victory. He finished the season with 1,327 yards passing and 906 yards rushing.
*Kaelan Riley (Calhoun): The junior quarterback was right on his season averages when he passed for 164 yards and ran for 61 in the Yellow Jackets' 27-20 victory over Washington County in the Class AAA final. Riley threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Cole Jackson in the first quarter that tied the game 7-7 and scored on an 18-yard run in the third quarter that gave Calhoun a 20-17 lead. His biggest value, however, was his ability to keep the chains moving. Calhoun was 7-for-11 on third-down conversions. That included four pass completions and a 10-yard run by Riley, who finished the season with 2,509 yards passing and 762 yards rushing.
*Dylan Singleton (Archer): The junior running back/defensive back did a little bit of everything for Archer, which lost to Colquitt County 28-24 in the Class AAAAAA final. He scored all three of the Tigers' touchdowns on a 55-yard reception and runs of 4 and 22 yards. He was the team's second-leading rusher with 45 yards on six carries (he had just 302 yards rushing for the season coming into the game), caught two passes for 51 yards and returned a punt 8 yards to finish with 104 all-purpose yards. On defense, Singleton had three assists and a team-leading 11 solo tackles to finish second on the team in tackles for the season.
*Brad Stewart (Benedictine): Perhaps no player had more of an impact on a championship game than the Cadets' senior wide receiver/defensive back had in Benedictine's 45-21 victory over Greater Atlanta Christian in the Class AA final. Stewart finished with just four receptions but had 150 yards and made a 29-yard TD catch on which he out-jumped two GAC defenders for the ball before landing in the front corner of the end zone. He also had a 34-yard reception that led to a field goal and a 74-yard catch that set up a touchdown in the Cadets' 30-point first half. Defensively, while covering GAC's talented group of receivers, Stewart came up with two interceptions, one of which he returned 32 yards.
*Keyshun Wright (Hawkinsville): The senior lineman was among Hawkinsville's leading tacklers all season, and he came up with one last memorable performance in the Red Devils' 15-6 victory over Irwin County in the Class A public-school final. Wright had eight solo tackles and five assists for a team-leading 10.5 total tackles. He also had a key part in the game-turning play, teaming with Matthew Money to tackle Irwin County's Cartavion Benyard in the end zone for a safety on the second-half kickoff, giving the Red Devils the lead for good at 8-6. Hawkinsville gave up just 7.3 points per game for the season and didn't allow more than 14 in any game.
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