Class 2A blog: Season recap

Thomson writes final chapter of ‘22 with championship

On a rainy Friday afternoon last week, the Class 2A season ended with Thomson defeating Fitzgerald 32-27 for their first championship since 2002. To the surprise of no one in Thomson, it was Bulldogs senior Jontavis Curry who stole the show, rushing for 243 yards and four touchdowns on 17 carries.

Curry’s final prep game capped off a remarkable playoff run in which he simply dominated. There’s a number of ways to break down Curry’s performance over the Bulldogs’ five-game playoff run, so let’s do that:

  • He had 60 rushes for 760 yards and 11 touchdowns. He had 13 catches for 222 yards and two touchdowns. He fielded four kickoffs for 192 yards and three touchdowns.
  • In all, he had 1,254 all-purpose yards and 16 total touchdowns, plus a pair of 2-point conversion runs.
  • The Bulldogs scored 176 points in the playoffs. Curry accounted for 100 of them, or 57% of the team’s scoring. He scored at least one touchdown every game.
  • Against Cook in Round 2, he amassed 160 rushing yards on just four carries. He was held out of the end zone in the run and pass games, so instead he returned a kickoff 79 yards for a touchdown.
  • Against South Atlanta in the quarterfinals, his two 90-plus-yard kickoff return touchdowns in the fourth quarter were key in fending off a furious Hornets rally. He also scored a rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter, and finished the game with five total. The Bulldogs won 56-38 after leading 21-12 heading into the fourth quarter.
  • In the semifinals, he accounted for all three of his team’s touchdowns in the Bulldogs’ 20-14 win over Appling County.
  • He had touchdown runs of 86, 61, 57 and 1 yards in the championship against Fitzgerald, with the two longest runs coming in the fourth quarter and serving as the go-ahead and game-sealing points.

This might be the greatest postseason individual performance I’ve seen since I began covering 2A in 2013. There have been some great ones — JD King, Tank Bigsby, Gunner Stockton, Chance Gamble and Keyjuan Brown are some names that immediately come to mind, though I know I’m leaving out many more.

Curry wasn’t merely posting voluminous stats for aesthetics. They had substance, and often served as the difference in critical stages of their playoff run. It’s possible they don’t get out of South Atlanta without his return touchdowns. Maybe they get held out of the end zone against Appling County. He was certainly the reason Fitzgerald didn’t repeat as champions for its first 15-0 season in program history.

The Bulldogs’ run capped an exciting season in which 2A was introduced to a number of contenders that will be around to make noise next year as well. As I say every year, there hasn’t been a repeat champion in 2A since Buford won four in a row from 2007-10, so maybe next year will bring more of the same parity.

Of the eight quarterfinalists, five were newcomers — Appling County, Fellowship Christian, Pierce County, Rockmart and Thomson. All of those teams had reached at least the quarterfinals last year in their respective classifications.

There were a number of surprise teams and highlights that emerged also:

  • Under first-year coach Keith Hatcher, ACE Charter went 8-3 for the first winning since its 2018 founding.
  • ACE’s Region 2 rivals, Spencer, rebounded from a 3-7 campaign in 2021 to win its first region title since joining the GHSA in 1968, under second-year coach Joe Kegler.
  • Berrien earned its first playoff win since 1991 and second since the program was founded in 1954. The Rebels won as a No. 4 seed out of Region 1, defeating Spencer.
  • Columbia opened the season with a 13-10 win at 7A’s Camden County, which entered as 34-point favorites after beating the Eagles 31-0 in 2021. The win earned them a spot in the rankings for the first time since 1997.
  • Fannin County won its first-ever road playoff game, defeating Athens Academy 28-13 as a No. 3 seed. The Rebels program was founded in 1976.
  • Union County also won its first-ever road playoff game, beating Model 28-14, also as a No. 3 seed. It was also their second-ever playoff win, the other coming in 2019. It’s worth noting the Panthers twice qualified for the quarterfinals, in 1972 and 1973, before the GHSA implemented the current playoff format.
  • Fitzgerald reached the title game for the third year in a row. The last 2A school to do that was Buford during its aforementioned run more than a decade ago.
  • South Atlanta reached the quarterfinals for a second year in a row, and won Region 6 a third-straight year. Had Keyjuan Brown not suffered an injury in the first quarter of the Hornets’ quarterfinals game against Thomson, it’s possible he would have won the state rushing title a second year in a row, despite playing just nine games in the regular season. He broke former NFL running back Jamal Lewis’ Atlanta Public Schools rushing record in the season opener.
  • For the first time in eight years, Region 8 has a new champion — Fellowship Christian. The previous eight-time defending champion, Rabun County, moved over to 1A’s Division 1 and won that Region 8 for nine in a row. Back in 2A, the new Region 8 is much more balanced.

With the 2022 season in the books, this space will cover 2A basketball moving forward. It was another great seasons, and congratulations to the Thomson Bulldogs for winning the state championship!