Class 3A blog: Play it again, Cedar Grove, Sandy Creek play for top-dog status

Cedar Grove and Sandy Creek will meet as familiar foes at noon Saturday to determine the championship of Class 3A high school football.

It will mark the second time this season and “third” time overall the two have tried to determine the best team in the classification.

The storylines run deep, leaving several questions to be answered: Can Cedar Grove maintain its position as the best team in the class and arguably one of the most dominant teams in recent GHSA history? Can Sandy Creek return to the top and win the program’s fourth state title?

In 2020, the regular-season game between the two was canceled (WHY). In 2021, Sandy Creek won 40-35 in the regular season, then Cedar Grove ran the table in the playoffs to win the title. This season, Cedar Grove defeated Sandy Creek 49-34 on Oct. 21.

Cedar Grove has won four state titles since 2016, including back-to-back championships in 2018 under head coach Jimmy Smith and 2019 under Miguel Patrick. John Adams took over the head coaching job in 2021 and led the Saints to a state championship. Sandy Creek is trying for the team’s fourth title after winning in 2009, 2010 and 2012.

Cedar Grove Saints (11-2, 3-0)

Cedar Grove has been the best team in the class since 2016, when Smith led the team to its first state title, beating Greater Atlanta Christian 30-19 in the Georgia Dome. Smith followed his 2016 title with a 2018 championship victory against Peach County (14-13) in the title game. Jadon Haselwood caught a game-winning touchdown pass as time expired. In 2019, Cedar Grove defeated Crisp County 21-14 to win the championship, and last season Cedar Grove beat Region 5 foe Carver-Atlanta 56-26 in the title game.

The Saints defeated Oconee County 23-0 in the semis. Against Oconee, the Cedar Grove defense was formidable, accounting for six tackles for loss while holding the Warriors to 113 yards of offense. AJC Super 11 selection Kayin Lee is a four-star prospect committed to Ohio State and anchors the defense from the cornerback position. Sophomore quarterback E.J. Colson leads a Saints offense that has outscored opponents 471-220 this season.

Sandy Creek Patriots (12-2, 2-1)

Since winning three titles in four seasons from 2009-2012 under head coach Chip Walker, Sandy Creek has not advanced to a title game. The Patriots, however, are poised to win the program’s fourth title – and first under head coach Brett Garvin after beating Carver-Atlanta in the semifinals.

In 2009, Sandy Creek won its first title in Class 4A before dropping to Class 3A in 2010 and defending. The Patriots moved back to Class 4A in 2012 and captured the team’s third title.

Senior quarterback Geimere Latimere and his brother – freshman Amari – have had a hand in 56 touchdowns for the high-powered Patriots offense. At quarterback, Geimere is 166-of-302 passing for 2,747 yards and 37 touchdowns and has rushed for 10 touchdowns. Amari has 112 carries for 648 yards and 10 touchdowns with two touchdown receptions. Cameron Watts (15 touchdown receptions) and Kaleb Cost (10) lead receivers. Travis Franklin and Dorian Graham each have four touchdown runs and lead the rushing attack.