Effingham County, Roswell wrap up region titles; playoff matchups set

Roswell gets ready to take the field during the Alpharetta at Roswell football game, November 3, 2023. (Jamie Spaar for the Atlanta Journal Constitution)

Credit: Jamie Spaar

Combined ShapeCaption
Roswell gets ready to take the field during the Alpharetta at Roswell football game, November 3, 2023. (Jamie Spaar for the Atlanta Journal Constitution)

Credit: Jamie Spaar

Effingham County and Roswell won region championships and the final unclaimed Class 6A playoff berths were secured Friday in the final weekend of the high school football regular season.

Effingham County had the most dramatic finale, defeating Brunswick 31-28 on a 25-yard field goal by Gage Brooks on the final play of the game. Effingham led by 14 points in the fourth quarter but found itself tied with 1:34 remaining. The Rebels then drove from their 23-yard line to the Brunswick 8 in four plays to set up the winning score. The region championship is Effingham County’s first since 1995.

“They say the front windshield is always bigger than the rearview mirror, and this was a great football game tonight,” Effingham County coach John Ford told Dennis Knight of the Savannah Morning News. “They really cut it loose on us in the fourth quarter and it was a helpless feeling. But our kids battled. … Everybody wrote us off when we lost to Southeast Bulloch in September, but the kids closed it out with six wins in a row.”

Brunswick, the two-time defending region champion, could have created a three-way tie for first place along with Effingham County and Glynn Academy with a victory, but Effingham County likely would still have ended up as the No. 1 seed based on the region’s tiebreakers. Instead, Brunswick fell to the No. 3 seed from the region and will open the playoffs Friday night against Region 3 runner-up Mundy’s Mill at Twelve Oaks Stadium in Clayton County. It will be the Pirates’ first playoff game on the road since 2019.

“Our guys never quit,” Brunswick coach Garrett Grady told the Brunswick News. “They never quit, never had any doubt that we were going to come back and be in that game, and that is really promising to see heading into the playoffs, that they’re still fighting for it.”

Roswell had an easier time claiming the Region 7 title, defeating Alpharetta 52-13 to secure its sixth region championship in nine years. A victory by Alpharetta would have created a three-way tie for first place that would have included Blessed Trinity, but Alpharetta fell to the No. 3 seed with the loss.

Nykahi Davenport ran for 241 yards, including 151 in the first quarter, and two touchdowns and had 34 receiving yards. K.J. Smith passed for 196 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for 61 yards.

Roswell will be at home in the first round against River Ridge, the No. 4 seed from Region 6. Alpharetta will travel to Sequoyah

“We never talked about [what a loss would have meant],” Davenport told the AJC’s Adam Krohn. “We practiced hard all week to come out with the win. We just kept pounding the ball. We knew we had it in the bag, we just had to keep working. This means a lot, we just need to keep working, day by day. I think we can reach the championship.”

The other six region titles were determined the previous weekend. Those winners were Thomas County Central in Region 1, Woodward Academy in Region 3, Marist in Region 4, Douglas County in Region 5, Rome in Region 6 and Gainesville in Region 8. Douglas County was the only one of the eight that wasn’t a repeat winner from 2022.

The teams clinching the remaining unclaimed playoff berths were Evans in Region 2, St. Pius in Region 4, River Ridge in Region 6, Sprayberry in Region 7 and Habersham Central in Region 8. All but Habersham Central were involved in winner-take-all games for playoff berths. Habersham Central would’ve fallen into a three-way tie for fourth place with Shiloh and Jackson County that would’ve gone to the region tiebreakers.

Here are the matchups for the first round (all games are Friday):

(R4 #3) Dunwoody at (R1 #2) Lee County

(R3 #4) Lovejoy at (R2 #1) Effingham County

(R7 #3) Alpharetta at (R6 #2) Sequoyah

(R8 #4) Habersham Central at (R5 #1) Douglas County

(R1 #3) Houston County at (R4 #2) North Atlanta (Henderson Stadium, Atlanta)

(R2 #4) Evans at (R3 #1) Woodward Academy

(R6 #3) Creekview at (R7 #2) Blessed Trinity

(R5 #4) South Paulding at (R8 #1) Gainesville

(R5 #3) East Paulding at (R8 #2) Lanier

(R6 #4) River Ridge at (R7 #1) Roswell

(R2 #3) Brunswick at (R3 #2) Mundy’s Mill (Twelve Oaks Stadium)

(R1 #4) Northside, Warner Robins at (R4 #1) Marist

(R8 #3) North Forsyth at (R5 #2) Hughes

(R7 #4) Sprayberry at (R6 #1) Rome

(R3 #3) Jonesboro at (R2 #2) Glynn Academy (Glynn County Stadium)

(R4 #4) St. Pius at (R1 #1) Thomas County Central

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