Class 4A Blog: Stockbridge and Perry seek first-ever titles

Three footballs are shown before the game between Peachtree Ridge and North Gwinnett at North Gwinnett high school, Friday, October 13, 2023, in Suwanee, Ga. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Credit: Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Credit: Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Three footballs are shown before the game between Peachtree Ridge and North Gwinnett at North Gwinnett high school, Friday, October 13, 2023, in Suwanee, Ga. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Stockbridge became the first school in Henry County history to advance to a finals and has an opportunity to become the first to bring back the crown in this year’s Class 4A finals. This year’s team opened up the year with tough losses to Douglas County and Colquitt County, but has been on a flawless run since.

Championship Overview

Stockbridge and Perry set up the only championship matchup this season that will feature two first-time finalists, but these are programs that have been knocking on the door in recent seasons with multiple region titles and major playoff victories. This year, Perry defeated three ranked opponents during its playoff run, while Stockbridge took out No. 4 Spalding and No. 1 ranked Benedictine. Additionally, this will also be the first-ever meeting between the Tigers and Panthers and a historic championship will be at stake for both programs. Stockbridge’s Jayden “Duke” Scott (39) and Perry’s Ahmad Gordon (31) have combined for 70 touchdowns this season at the running back position and headline this battle as two of the state’s most prolific backs.

Stockbridge picked up its 12th-straight victory in the semifinals and served two-time defending state champion Benedictine its first loss within Class 4A since the 2020 semifinals. The Tigers dropped their first two games of the season to Class 6A Douglas County and Class 7A Colquitt County and have posted a 35.83 average margin of victory in the 12 games since with a 46.3 ppg average offensively and a defense that has allowed just 10.4 ppg. The Tigers are led by alum and former assistant Thomas Clark—who is in his third season at the helm and have reached the finals for the first time in school history. Running back Jayden “Duke Scott” ran in three touchdowns (90, 60 and 59 yards) to fuel their 45-31 win over Benedictine in the semifinals and he has racked up 2,357 rushing yards and 38 touchdowns to fuel a ground game that is averaging 302.6 yards per game.

Perry is in the midst of the most successful stretch in the program’s 70-year history and over the last four seasons has achieved three of its four all-time region titles and all three of its double-digit win seasons. This year, Perry was denied a fourth-straight region title after a tough loss to Spalding and the Panthers were without starting quarterback Colter Ginn in that game. Once healthy, Perry was the only No. 2 seed that advanced to the quarterfinals and topped Starr’s Mill 28-24 on the road in the semis to reach the finals for the first time in school history. Perry took a 28-24 lead with 8:46 to play with a 61-yard touchdown pass from Ginn to Kory Pettigrew and Tavares Simmons tackled Starr’s Mill just five yards from the endzone with four minutes to play to force a turnover on downs set up the victory. Running back Ahmad Gordon has 31 rushing touchdowns and receiver Dakarai Anderson has a team-high 1,113 receiving yards.

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