Historic matchups set stage for three-day championship marathon

Mercedes-Benz Stadium will host the GHSA Football State Championships for the first time since 2018 with three must-see days of action on Dec. 11-13. The first day will feature a triple header before a four-game lineup on Tuesday and Wednesday to conclude the 2023 season.

There are just two defending state champions (Bowdon, Prince Avenue Christian) that made their way back to the finals this season in Georgia’s eight classifications. Additionally, there is just one rematch with Prince Avenue Christian squaring off with Swainsboro in the Class A Division I championship after earning a 52-34 win over the Tigers last year. Four programs have an opportunity to achieve their first-ever championships and Class 4A’s showdown with Stockbridge and Perry will be the only matchup guaranteed to crown a first-ever state champ.


The Class 7A championship represents just how competitive the playoffs were across the state as undefeated Walton and Milton meet for the finals. Both teams earned No. 1 seeds, but had to go on the road with the Raiders’ earning a 56-35 win over host Carrollton in the quarterfinals and Milton topping host Grayson 45-35 in the semifinals. Now, Georgia’s highest classification will have a finals without a Gwinnett or South Georgia team in the game for the first time since 1985. Milton is 1-1 all-time in previous finals appearances, while Walton is 0-1 after falling in the 2011 finals.

Class 6A’s matchup presents an opportunity for Thomas County Central and Woodward Academy to snap lengthy championship droughts. The last time Thomas County Central won state came in 1997 when the Yellow Jackets achieved their fifth crown in a six-year span. Woodward Academy’s two championships came in 1970 and 1980 and this will be the War Eagles’ first finals appearance since its 14-10 victory over Marist in the 1980 championship.

Class 5A Coffee (14-0) is one win away from its first-ever title and its defense has allowed just 6.14 points per game this season—the best mark out of all the finalists. The Trojans will take on Creekside and the Seminoles have gone 12-0 within the state this season and have averaged 45.3 ppg offensively, while allowing just 13.25 ppg within the state. Creekside’s first and only state title came in 2013 and the Seminoles will be making their second all-time finals appearance.


Both Stockbridge and Perry will be making their first-ever finals appearances and Perry set a new state record by playing 70 seasons before making its first-ever finals—beating Milton’s previous record of 69 seasons set in 2018. Stockbridge needed 60 seasons to reach its first finals and snapped two-time defending state champion Benedictine’s 24-game win-streak in the semis with a 45-31 win over the Cadets.

In Class 3A, Cedar Grove is back in the finals for the sixth time in eight seasons and will take on Savannah Christian, which is looking for its first state title since 2011. Class 2A finalist Pierce County has an opportunity to win its second state championship since 2020 when it won its first and the Bears’ opponent Rockmart sits a win away from achieving its second all-time title and first since the 1950 campaign.

The Class A Division I final between Prince Avenue and Swainsboro has historic implications as Prince Avenue quarterback Aaron Philo sits 301 yards shy of Trevor Lawrence’s state record for career passing yards (13,902). Finally, the Class A Division II championship will be the lone rematch within the 2023 season. Manchester opened the season with a 21-20 win over Bowdon and the teams will face off once again with Bowdon seeking a consecutive state title and Manchester aiming for its first crown since 1997.

The fourth Flag Football Championship will feature two-time defending state champion Southeast Bulloch against Area 6 champion North Oconee in the Class A-4A matchup. On Tuesday, defending state champion Lithia Springs will take on Greenbrier in the Class 5A-6A matchup. Greenbrier is the highest scoring team in Class 5A-6A and went off for a 40-6 win in the second round before scoring a 31-7 quarterfinal win over McDonough. Finally, the Class 7A game will be between Area 3 rivals Pope and Allatoona. Pope earned the No. 1 seed out of Area 3 and defeated defending state champion Blessed Trinity 7-6 in the semifinals.


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