GHSA Championship Day 1 Preview

There are two games today, and two champions will be crowned for both Class A Public and Private. At the 3:30 slot you have 12-1 Prince Avenue vs 12-2 Trinity Christian. Then at the latter half of the evening at 7 pm 11-3 Irwin County takes on 13-1 Brooks County.

To be perfectly honest, I’ve never done one of these, so I might just try to ramble for a bit and see where it goes. Name 5 players to watch for each team and make a prediction on who wins. It should be fun, even if this is coming out a little tardy. Hope everyone had a great holiday weekend by the way. – David

Class A Private

Prince Avenue Christian

The senior-laden squad has been building towards this game for a few years now, and this afternoon the class of 2021 will have their first shot for a state title, and the 2nd ever appearance (2012) in school history. They are led by a high powered offensive attack with senior quarterback and UGA signee Brock Vandagriff at the helm. They are averaging a state-leading 48.2 points per game. During the playoffs, the offense has continued to hum averaging 49.6 points per game. The most notable game on their championship run is the 38-0 shutout against the 4-time reigning champs ELCA. Prince Avenue seemingly has all of the momentum on their side to capture their first-ever state title.

Five to Watch

Brock Vandagriff – The 6’3″ 205 lbs. QB has elite vision on the field and pinpoint precision. His 142.2 QBR is one of the highest we have seen over the last 5 years in the state. Vandagriff should once again be named first team All-State, his third appearance on our site.

Logan Johnson – The Troy WR commit typically catches the eye of most novice fans out on the field as he might be 5’6″ depending on what cleats he is wearing, but the senior is one of the best route runners in the state of Georgia. He has back-to-back 1000 yard seasons at Prince Avenue.

Landon Owens – Owens has been measured running in the 22 MPH range according to Recruiting Analytics, and looking at his film the senior can seriously flat out go. The senior running back ripped off 1599 total yards on the season. He signed on to The Citadel.

BJ Green – Perhaps no player in Class A has had a more transformational impact on a team than BJ Green. The former McEachern linebacker has transitioned to more of an edge defender role (albeit some linebacker too) at Prince and he has played havoc on offenses. The senior holds a handful of offers from FCS programs and very underrated.

Davis Ridings – The tackling-machine of Prince Avenue has averaged over 100 tackles since his sophomore year. Ridings is a super-smart linebacker, with very good lateral quickness to move in and out of the gaps, and plug up most runs. He has a handful of FCS offers including Western Carolina.

Trinity Christian

Trinity Christian finished the regular season 8-2 with both of their losses to regular season top 5 teams. The Lions were widely ranked in the latter half of the top 10, but they have gotten hot in the playoffs ripping off 4 wins in a row; including a quarterfinal 41-27 upset against Fellowship Christian. They won in the semifinals against another unexpected playoff runner in Calvary Day, but ultimately pulled away 17-7. Trinity Christian just joined the GHSA in 2018, but immediately entered the classification with one of the more talented teams. Their arrival to the state championship game is not fully unexpected, just a year earlier than we originally thought.

Five to Watch

David Dallas – The junior Qb has gotten hot during the playoffs throwing 11 touchdowns. Dallas is a bit of a playmaker, who can scramble out and create on the fly – his favorite target being his twin, Josh. He has range of offers from Buffalo, Penn, Dartmouth and more. Recruitment is just heating up.

Josh Dallas – Josh is on the other end of the twin connection, and shows elite ball skills going up top and playing the football. He will be an X-factor on both offense and defense for the Lions. Dallas also holds offers from a wide range of D1 programs and should hear from P5’s in the future.

Christian Hanson – Hanson is a powerful junior linebacker who stands 6’2″ 220 lbs. He is the heart of the defense for the Lions, getting right at 100 tackles the last few seasons. Hanson is another junior recruit who should heat up during the 2021 offseason.

Bryce Wilcox – Yes, another junior for Trinity Christian with D1 upside, and also his versatility is unmatched for the Lions. Acting as both a receiver, cornerback and lead returner, Wilcox shows a wide range of skills and is a very quick athlete in the open field. He’s made several game-winning plays this year for the Lions.

Aaron Gates – The 6’1″ 185 lbs. sophomore is already a national recruit with offers from Georgia, Georgia Tech, LSU, and several more P5/FBS offers. Earlier this season he made our personal catch of the year where he caught the football around the back of the defender; anyone remember Tryone Protho from Alabama? Yeah, it was that type of catch. Gates plays all over the field on offense and defense and is one of the top athletes in the class of 2023. 


Prince Avenue Christian wins 42-21

Class A Public

Brooks County

Brooks County returns to the state title game after finishing runner-up in Class 2-A back in 2019. Dropping down a class, and returning some of their top playmakers, there was an overwhelming consensus that the Trojans would be competing for a state title. Brook County only has one loss on the year, and it’s to Irwin County on October 9th where the final score was 21-13. Since that loss they have won 9 games in a row. During the playoffs they have been even more dominant outscoring opponents 220-14. The rematch between Irwin County should be another great game between the two Class A powers.

Five to Watch

Ni’Tavion Burrus – The returning signal-caller to last year’s team has redemption season in his eyes. He has thrown for 1857 yards and 22 touchdowns on the year while also rushing for 508 yards too. He does a nice job spreading the football around to his playmakers.

Omari Arnold – Arnold has once again put together an All-State caliber season after making 2-A team as a sophomore. The 2022 recruit has rushed for 1553 yards and 25 touchdowns – many games where he didn’t even play in the 2nd half. He also has 487 yards receiving. Arnold has an offer from Georgia Tech and one of the top APB in the class of 2022.

J’Shawn Baker – The quick-twitch edge rusher is one of the state leaders in tackles for loss with 35 and sacks with 20.5. The long-limbed athlete has also caused 7 fumbles on the year. Baker is an extremely underrated senior who has D1 upside at linebacker.

Camron Priest – “The Beast” as we like to call him has proven to be one of the best defenders in Class A. He totaled 99 tackles on the year, but what’s truly impressive is that 27.5 of those tackles game at a loss. The undersized 5’11” 190 lbs. linebacker has an elite motor, and always seems to be around the football. 

Ethan Bell – The team’s 2nd leading tackler with right under 80 on the year, Bell has been instrumental in stopping the run at his linebacker spot. He has a long frame at 6’1″ 190 lbs., and plays the game with a ton of hustle. Bell is just starting to fill out his frame, but has very good upside at the next level.

Irwin County

The reigning 2019 Class A Public Champs started off 2020 with a stumble losing to Fitzgerald 21-6, who is in the 2-A title, but a little more shocking was the loss to Cook the very next week 21-20. All of a sudden the always reliable Irwin County squad looked beatable, which has been rare occurrence over the years during the regular season. They regained their footing and won 6 games in a row until they loss to bitter rival Clinch County 13-0. On the flip side, Brooks County has beat Crisp 42-0 twice this fall, which certainly adds a twist to tonight’s game even though Irwin won in the head-to-head against Brooks. After the Clinch County loss Irwin County has won 5 games in a row and have outscored opponents 170-52 during that stretch. They are playing their best football of the year, and beat the regular season #1 team in Metter in the semifinals 44-10.

Five to Watch

Kam Ward – The senior took on DJ Lundy’s responsibilities back in 2019 when he was hurt most of the regular season, and in 2020 he has become the premier rusher with 1165 yards on the year and 17 touchdowns. He has been on a tear during the playoffs rushing for 500 yards on 56 carries and 4 touchdowns in just 3 games. 

Jalen Billingsley – You won’t find the senior on many national recruiting databases, but the 6′ 220 lbs. two-way OL/DL is pound-for-pound one of the toughest players in all of Class A. Billingsley is a brutal blocker with incredible power at the point of attack. He just earned a scholarship from Reinhardt.

Garland Benyard – The newly signed Kennesaw State athlete has been one of the more impressive edge defenders in Class A the last few seasons while also lining up at tight end and receiver on offense. At almost 6’2″ and 200 lbs. Benyard is a quick-twitch athlete with explosive upside.

Gabriel Benyard – Another Benyard bro who also just signed with Kennesaw State. He was our pick for Preseason All-State athlete in Public and has not disappointed with 430 yards rushing, 767 yards receiving while also picking off 4 passes on defense too. Gabriel Benyard is an explosive playmaker who reminds us of Markeith Montgomery out of Ridgeland, who coincidentally signed with Kennesaw State.

Cody Soliday – What in the wide world of sports is going on at Irwin County with a QB throwing for 1754 yards on nearly 200 attempts? Well, being the head coach’s son certainly loosens up a historically run-heavy offensive attack. Soliday is averaging 16.7 yards per attempt and has 22 touchdowns and just 6 interceptions. 


Irwin County wins 21-20


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