Carroll teams have dream weekend; Dunson falls just short

Elisa Herring

-What a weekend for Carroll County. The area, about an hour west of down town Atlanta on I-20, saw three local teams advance to the quarterfinals of the state playoffs for the first time since 2004.

All three teams beat ranked opponents in the second round of the payoffs, each in a different classification.

Carrollton, the county’s most consistent power, pulled what some may consider an upset of Class AAAA No. 3 Monroe Area. The Trojans lost some respect after a 24-7 loss to Sandy Creek on Nov. 1, but gained much of it back after a 44-27 demolition of the Purple Hurricanes. Coach Rayvan Teague’s bunch is now 11-1, each of its wins by 17 or more points. No doubt the Trojans want another shot at Sandy Creek, which can only come in the state finals.

Bowdon, meanwhile, took down Class AA No. 5 Washington-Wilkes by the surprisingly one-sided score of 48-14. Coach Dwight Hochstetler’s team won its 11th game for the first since since 2005. The Red Devils were somewhat of an afterthought after losing to Heard County 49-12 on Nov. 8, but have rebounded nicely and have advanced further than their Region 5 rivals (more on Heard County below).

Last but not least, Central-Carrollton wiped the floor with Class AAA No. 6 Appling County, which had not lost since Week 2. The Lions, under first-year coach Rico Zackery, reached the quarterfinals for the first time since 1987. Central, a long-suffering program in the shadow of its more successful neighbors, won its 10th game for the first time since 1987.

-Heard County RB Duranta Dunson ran for 463 yards Friday night in a 61-57 loss to Class AA No. 8 Jefferson. After the game and before the stats became official, both coaching staffs reported that Dunson totaled more than the state rushing record of 476 by Miller County’s Don Calloway. Heard County reported the total at 486 while Jefferson had 511 for the 5-foot-9 junior.

For the season, Dunson totaled 2,193 yards and 39 scores.

-St. Pius X waited all year to play arguably its most complete game in a 31-19 win over Class AAA No. 3 Cartersville. The Golden Lions, which made the finals last season, appear to be peaking at the right time after two consecutive wins over quality playoff competition (the other was a 31-21 victory over Hart County). It is the Purple Hurricanes’ only loss of the season.

On the road each week as a No. 3 seed, St. Pius X travels to No. 5 Callaway Friday night.

-Class AAAAAA No. 4 North Gwinnett skated by a game Archer squad Friday night in Lawrenceville, escaping with a 34-32 win. It was an intriguing showdown between the last undefeated team in Class AAAAAA (Archer) and a team that had been ranked No. 1 for the majority of the year.

Some had said No. 8 Archer played a weak schedule and was not better than any of the top four teams in Region 7, but the Tigers proved their mettle Friday night despite the narrow defeat. The game featured more than 800 yards of total offense and a last-second, game-winning field goal by North’s Michael D’Angola. Archer’s Gabe Tiller threw for 288 yards while North’s C.J. Leggett legged out 181 rushing yards.

The Bulldogs travel to No. 6 Hillgrove Friday in another top-notch matchup.

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