Class 4A Blog: What the 2020 season taught us

Marist running back Andrew Mannelly (46) carries the ball for a touchdown late in the half of their Class 4A state high school football final Tuesday, December 29, 2020 in Atlanta. (PHOTO/Daniel Varnado)
Marist running back Andrew Mannelly (46) carries the ball for a touchdown late in the half of their Class 4A state high school football final Tuesday, December 29, 2020 in Atlanta. (PHOTO/Daniel Varnado)

Credit: Daniel Varnado

Credit: Daniel Varnado

Class 4A experienced a 2020 High School Football season that revealed both the classification’s fresh post-reclassification landscape and the pervasive competiveness across all eight regions that came with it. In fact, Class 4A was the only classification in the state that saw all eight of its region champions advance to the quarterfinals. Additionally, more than 85 percent of the playoff matchups this season were first-ever meetings between programs—a testament to the massive impact that the reclassification had on 4A.

Marist ultimately ascended to the top of Class 4A this season with statistical and victorious dominance. The War Eagles’ 30-14 win over Jefferson in the title game was the closest game that the team played all year and Marist closed out its perfect 13-0 season allowing just 3.69 ppg. Veteran head coach Alan Chadwick picked up his 399th career victory and third all-time state title and will be entering the 2021 season just one victory away from a reaching the incredible 400-win milestone.

Jefferson finished runner-up and will be a major favorite this upcoming season as five-star Malaki Starks returns to pace the Dragons’ offense for what will be his final varsity season. There were more teams that rose to the occasion this season and many of them were on a roll until they crossed paths with Marist. For example, Perry started the year 0-3, but swept through Region 4 and scored big playoff wins over West Laurens (30-14) and LaGrange (34-4) before falling to Marist 36-7 in the quarterfinals. That was the Panthers’ first run to the quarterfinals since 2007.

Bainbridge also dominated the competition until running into Marist in the semifinals. The Bearcats won nine-straight games before falling 42-0 to the eventual state champs.

Riverdale, Benedictine, Cedartown and Carver-Columbus were the other top seeds that performed well this season and will be teams to watch for heading into the future. There were several other teams that are worth mentioning that made noise this season. This includes Troup, LaGrange, Cairo, Islands, Hardaway, Baldwin and Flowery Branch.

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