Class AAAAA: Glynn Academy vs. Allatoona (Preview)

Class 5A

Georgia Dome

Friday, Dec. 11 | 8 PM


Glynn Academy (12-2)

Glynn Academy enters the state championship after successfully conquering one of the toughest roads to the Dome seen this postseason. The Terrors opened the playoffs with Jones County at home and travelled nearly 400 miles in the second round to Dalton where they walked away with a 20-13 win. The quarterfinals saw a defining moment of the playoff run as head coach Rocky Hidalgo’s team faced what appeared to be certain defeat. Undefeated Stockbridge led 21-7 in the fourth quarter and lined up a yard away from making it 28-7 before the defense came up with the game-saving stop on fourth down. With the ball inside its 1-yard line, Glynn Academy shifted the momentum by driving 99-yards for the score as Kendall Cross rumbled in a 25-yard touchdown. The defense forced a Stockbridge punt, and senior Garrison Hurd ran the ball down to the 5-yard line to set up Cross’ game-tying score. With 14 seconds left, Banks Entwistle booted through a game-winning 30-yard field goal (24-21). Last Friday, Glynn Academy battled past rival Ware County 24-16 in another thriller. Ware County completed their final pass but was dragged down just shy of the touchdown at the one-yard line to end the game. Quarterback and UGA-commit Deejay Dallas hit Randon Jernigan on a 45-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter, Hurd scored from a yard out, Cross found the end zone, Entwistle drilled a field goal with 6:56 to play and Xavier McClinton intercepted a pass with 1:42 remaining to contribute to another team victory. Glynn Academy now sits one win away from a school record 13th victory and its first state title since 1964. Hidalgo has produced a quick turnaround since arriving at the school last year from his five-year run as head coach at Walton High School. Hidalgo previously led the Raiders to their first state finals in 2011 with a perfect record before falling to Grayson.


 Allatoona (13-1)

Allatoona has had to overcome adversity since the first round of the playoffs when the team’s leading rusher Russell Halimon went down in the opening quarter with a knee injury. The Arizona commitment paced the Bucs with 1,543 rushing yards before his injury against Winder-Barrow, but the offense has made the necessary adjustments while finding new sources of production. Quarterback Brandon Rainey has risen to the occasion at a record-setting pace and the offense has managed to rush for 268 yards per game in the playoffs without Halimon. Allatoona hosted No. 1 Houston County in the quarterfinals and Rainey led the Bucs to an unforgettable 59-47 victory. The senior accounted for a school-record seven rushing touchdowns and a season-high 106 yards on the ground. Defensively, the win did not sit well for Allatoona after giving up a staggering 534 yards of offense, but the Bucs once again made adjustments and locked down Northgate the following week. In the semifinals, Allatoona held Northgate scoreless for the first three quarters and allowed just 196 total yards in a 28-7 victory. Rainey got it done on the offensive end again with a 1-yard touchdown run in the opening quarter and a 93-yard touchdown pass to Turner Cockrell on the Bucs’ next possession. Cockrell is a 6-foot-5 tight end committed to Vanderbilt that has developed into an excellent blocker and weapon in the passing game. Rainey put the game out of reach with another 1-yard run on the second play of the second quarter. Rainey has proven to be a dangerous passing threat and has completed 82 of 140 attempts this season for 1579 yards, 16 touchdowns and just four interceptions. His 20 rushing touchdowns leads the team. Defensively, Danny Tesler had two interceptions last Friday and the team as a whole has 16 interceptions on the year. Faizon Harris leads the secondary and had a season-high five pass breakups in the quarterfinals victory over Houston County. Junior Michael Robinson leads the team in tackles with nearly 10 per game. Robinson totaled a season-high 16 tackles in Allatoona’s 30-14 second round victory over Starr’s Mill.

The Matchup

Allatoona (13-1) is the first Cobb County public school to reach the championship game since 2011, when Walton lost to Grayson in the final. That Walton team was coached by Rocky Hidalgo, who is now the coach at Glynn Academy. Hidalgo’s Terrors ride a 10-game winning streak after dropping back-to-back losses to Camden County and Coffee. Allatoona lost its first game of the season to East Paulding but have tied last year’s school-record 13 straight victories to reach the finals for the first time. The biggest factor of this game will be Glynn Academy’s team speed against a slower-paced Allatoona team. Glynn Academy quarterback Deejay Dallas is a four-star athlete and one of the top juniors in the state. He is the rare type of athlete that can score on any given play and he brings versatility to an offense that will take a total team effort from Allatoona to contain.  That being said, both teams are extremely well-coached on both sides of the ball.

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