GHSA Football State Championship Saturday Roundup
ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - Cedar Grove won the battle, but Region 5 rival Sandy Creek won the war after beating the defending champion Saints 21-17 in the Class 3A championship game at Georgia State’s Center Parc Stadium in Atlanta.
After a 1-yard touchdown run from Travis Franklin with 50 seconds left in the game, the Sandy Creek defense forced a game-saving interception from cornerback Kaleb Cost. The pick ended a last-gasp effort from Cedar Grove as it attempted a game-winning drive. The Franklin touchdown was in question immediately as the replay showed Franklin was brought down short of the end zone and the footage has gone viral with national media reigniting the debate on whether or not the state should implement instant replay. CBS Sports: Blown call helps Georgia high school win state title.
“Listen,” said Sandy Creek head coach Brett Garvin, addressing the crowd after the game. “We have great administrators from the top down. We have some of the best fans and people from Tyrone. By the way, the trophy is coming back to Tyrone. And our coach’s wives sacrificed day in and out for these guys to coach kids playing sport.”
After making sure to acknowledge those who make a championship program possible behind the scenes, Garvin turned the focus to his team.
“But,” he said, pointing at his players. “That group right there, I told them at half time, I would not trade them for any team in America. Because they worked that hard and they play that hard all the time.”
Franklin scored on a 1-yard run with 6:49 left in the first quarter to put Sandy Creek up 7-0. Cedar Grove tied the game early in the second quarter on a 7-yard run from Quinterio Lawson and took the 10-7 lead on a 36-yard field goal from Amari Forte with 8:27 left before halftime.
Sandy Creek quarterback Geimere Latimer – who was 14-for-25 passing for 174 yards – scored on a 10-yard run to give Sandy Creek the 14-10 advantage with 6:12 left in the third quarter. Cedar Grove scored on a 20-yard run from Ricky Lee to regain the lead with 5:22 left in the game before Franklin’s game-winning run.
In the regular season, Cedar Grove beat Sandy Creek 49-34 in Region 5 play. The four-team league featured three of the top 5 programs – Cedar Grove, Sandy Creek and Carver-Atlanta — alongside Douglass-Atlanta and was a challenge. The quality of play and the experience it brought proved valuable once the Patriots entered the playoffs.
“Extremely tough,” Garvin said of the difficulty of Region 5 play. “I told each of Carver (Darren Myles) and Cedar Grove’s (John Adams) coaches to not be surprised if we played again.”
Prophetic words as Sandy Creek beat Carver 49-14 in the semifinals before the rematch with Cedar Grove.
Since the 2012 4A title, Sandy Creek has not been deeper than a semifinals appearance in 2019, its last season in 4A before joining 3A. Last season, the Patriots lost out in the first round to Dawson County 36-27, making this championship even more meaningful.
But for Garvin – who took over the head coaching job in 2017 — his family ties run deep at Sandy Creek, a place where his son was once quarterback. The emotions surrounding the win were something GPB’s Jon Nelson tried to take advantage of in the post-game interview and his fishing for a bit of emotion on the GPB broadcast drew some heartfelt laughs.
“It is dream come true and I couldn’t ask for a better story,” Garvin said while answering Nelson’s emotionally loaded question. “But you’re not going to get me.”
Copyright 2022 WANF. All rights reserved.