1949 – Jonesboro
Coached by W.J. “Doc” Kirksey, the 1949
Jonesboro Team won Region 3-C to become Clayton County’s first
football champion. The Cardinals beat defending region champion
Eatonton, Mary Persons, Gray, Sparta, Monticello, and Cochran on
the way to a perfect 6-0 region slate (9-1 overall). The only
regular season loss was to Class B power Manchester.
Jonesboro defeated Lincolnton 41-6 in the first
round of the playoffs before falling to Gordon Lee 14-7 in the
North Georgia title game. The abbreviated playoff schedule was
due to the fact that only 22 teams in the state played Class C
The 1949 Cardinals were led by star halfback Bill Dunford who
scored 26 touchdowns and received a football scholarship to UGA.
Other key players were linemen Harold Smith and J.D. Gamble, and
backs Roland Toney and Reese Sanders. Their ten wins are the
most ever at Jonesboro in a season.
1951 – Forest
Playing its first official season of varsity
football, Forest Park won Region 3-C, North Georgia, and Georgia
C crowns. The Panthers had played a “B” schedule the previous
year. The Panthers were coached by Al Jeffrey.
After opening the campaign with an impressive
victory over Class A Fulton High, the Panthers defeated
defending state champion Fort Valley, Buford, Henry County,
Fayette County, Monticello, and Hawkinsville and finished the
regular season 9-0-1. The only blemish was a 20-20 tie in a
rematch with Hawkinsville. The team did not have a home field
and had to host games at College Park or Hapeville.
Forest Park defeated Calhoun for the North
Georgia title and Cuthbert for state. With a final record of
11-0-1, the 1951 Panthers are the only undefeated team in county
1957 – Forest
Forest Park captured Region 3-A and North
Georgia championships before falling short in the state title
game. Former assistant Albert “Pat” Patterson was in his first
year as head coach.
The Panthers defeated North Clayton, Jonesboro,
Milton, Henry County, Campbell, and Sprayberry to set up a
season finale with Carrollton for the 3-A title. Forest Park won
the game 22-12 to earn the right to host North Habersham for the
North Georgia title. A 14-7 win put the Panthers in the state
championship game at Statesboro.
Statesboro had been ranked first in the state
all year and proved their status with a 27-0 victory on a
near-freezing night in early December. The final record was
8-3-1. With the best back (Donald Cook) and the best linemen
(Larry Foster and Jack Aaron) returning, the prospects were
excellent for a return trip to the playoffs.
1958 – Forest
Forest Park, with a veteran team and coach, won
Region 1-A and South Georgia Championships on the way to a
10-1-1 season slate. The Panthers rolled up 9 straight wins by
impressive tallies including three consecutive games with 60 or
more points. Nevertheless, the region title was still up for
grabs when the Panthers faced Carrollton in the last game of the
regular season. Carrollton needed a win and a Jonesboro victory
over Campbell to create a three-way tie for the title. The 0-0
tie was enough to send Forest Park to the postseason.
The Panthers defeated Sandersville 39-20 for the
South Georgia title to advance to the state final opposite
Stephens County. Coach Herb Amick’s team won the game 13-6.
Amick would later become the Forest Park principal.
1962 – North
North Clayton, with legendary coach Max Dowis at
the lead, got the school’s first taste of success by taking
Region 2-AA and South Georgia Championships on the way to a 12-1
record. The only loss was a 28-6 decision at #1-ranked Rossville
in the state title game. North Clayton’s first six victories of
the year, including a strange 2-0 win over Forest Park, were all
against opponents that they had never beaten.
The Eagles defeated Headland 18-6 for the region
and Wayne County 7-6 for the right to play Rossville. Both games
were played at North Clayton. The Eagles were led by all-state
back Frank Oliver, Millard Brannen, Doug Jenkins, Thurston
Taylor, and Ronnie Huggins. A Taylor-to-Jenkins 55-yard pass
play and Huggins’ extra point won the Wayne County game in
dramatic style. The defense only allowed 43 points in the
1963 – North
North Clayton repeated as Region 2-AA and South
Georgia champions before falling to Cedartown in the state
final. Dowis’ team defeated College Park 13-7 for the region
title and Cairo 21-7 for the South Georgia crown.
Senior quarterback Thurston Taylor and junior
running backs Larry Short, Terry Short, Larry Nelson, and
Millard Brannen were the offensive stars. Classmate Ronnie
Huggins made first team all-state as a defensive lineman and was
the AJC’s Greater Atlanta Lineman of the Year. Brannen gained
over 1000 yards rushing. With a majority of the team
underclassmen, North Clayton was the preseason favorite to take
it all in 1964.
1964 – North
North Clayton captured the Sub-region 2-AA
(South) title for a third straight year with an undefeated
league record. The Eagles won an early season showdown with
College Park 13-6 and coasted from there. The only setback of
the regular season was a controversial 3-0 loss to Griffin in
the season finale. Douglas County was the opponent in the Region
2-AA title game where the Eagles fell 19-7. North Clayton’s
Millard Brannen was out with an injury. Douglas County went on
to win the state title.
1968 – Forest
Forest Park was the surprise story of the state,
going 12-1 on the heels of a mediocre 4-5-1 campaign the
previous season. Carl Madison’s Panthers won Region 7-AAA and
North Georgia titles before falling to mighty Valdosta 37-12 in
the state final at Georgia Tech’s Grant Field.
Only Avondale and R.E. Lee provided much
competition during the regular season. The 14-7 win over
Avondale was the first home loss for Calvin Ramsey’s team in the
ten-year history of their stadium. The 10-7 win at R.E. Lee in
the last regular season outing clinched the region title. The
Panthers got by Athens 26-3 on the road and Dalton 28-7 at Tara
before succumbing to Valdosta at icy Grant Field. The Wildcats
had allowed only 19 points coming into the game.
The 1968 Panther offense was led by quarterback
Randy Kidd, running back Dennis Sullivan, and linemen Barry
Jones and Eddie Pollard. The defense, which held opponents to
less than a touchdown per game, featured Fred Cash, Doug
Burnett, Jimmy Farmer, Terry Peeples, and Jim Lyle.
1971 – Forest
Forest Park claimed the 6-AAA title even though
their first win did not come until the third week of the season.
A 10-10 tie with R.E. Lee was followed by a 13-7 loss to Newton
County as T. McFerrin got off to an inauspicious start as head
coach. Forest Park then ran off eight straight wins. The passing
combination of Chris Jackson to Carey Thompson and the running
of Kiney Sexton proved to be unstoppable in the second half of
Both playoff games were played at Tara. A 38-6
rout of South Cobb set up an encounter with Avondale for the
North Georgia title. Forest Park led 10-7 in the third, but
Avondale scored twice in the fourth for a 19-10 victory. Senior
Chris Jackson, a three-year starter, was named Clayton Player of
the Year by the News/Daily.
1987 – Morrow
Morrow, led by veteran coach Bud Theodocion,
captured the 6-AAAA, North Georgia, and Georgia championships.
The Mustangs (14-1) were ranked #19 in the nation by USA Today
at season’s end. After a last-minute win over Northside Warner
Robins and a 7-0 loss to McIntosh, Morrow rolled to 13 straight
victories. The most exciting win of the regular season came on
October 30 over Griffin. The Bears were ranked #2 in the state
until the 17-14 Morrow win.
Griffin was the 23-7 loser in the region title
game at Tara and Southwest DeKalb was the 14-7 victim in the
North Georgia Championship at DeKalb Memorial. Tara hosted the
state championship game for the first (and only) time on
December 19 with Effingham County going home disappointed by the
Quarterback Jeff Howard, a Georgia Tech signee,
threw for over 2000 yards to be named the AJC Offensive Player
of the Year for Georgia. He led a balanced offensive, posting 24
touchdowns rushing and another 24 via the pass. Sophomore
sensation Andre Hastings was the favorite receiver. Danny
Williams and Ray Doran both ran for 1000-yards. The key linemen
were Rusty Wright (Georgia Tech), Jimmy Newnan, William Moody,
and Peanut Fuller.
Defensive standouts for the Mustangs included
Walter McDaniel, Ronnie McKinney, Mike Gaskins, Seth Jones,
Simon Martin, and Glenn Hill. The latter was selected Clayton
Defensive Player of the Year by the CND.
1988 – Riverdale
Riverdale was the surprise 4-AAAA champion,
finishing the regular season in fourth place before upsetting
the higher seeds in the playoffs. Bill Kennedy’s Raiders went
7-3 in the regular season with losses to Morrow, Griffin, and
Newnan. They shocked third-ranked and undefeated Griffin in the
region semi-final, then topped Morrow for the region crown at
The Raiders of 1988 were known for their
ball-control offense and strong defense. Chris Nash, who rushed
for 1092 yards to become the school’s first thousand-yard
rusher, was joined in the backfield by Jon Alford and Shawn
Ledford. Leon Dillard, Kevin Capers, and David Horn were the key
receivers. Chris Roberts, Chad Wilson, and Scott Eachman were
the defensive stars. Roberts was the CND Defensive Player of the
Year. The season ended in the first round of the state playoffs
with a 33-12 loss to Warner Robins.
1990 – Morrow
Morrow won Region 4-AAAA by recording a string
of miraculous upsets, then getting a vote of confidence by the
other member schools in a tie-breaker with Griffin. A 17-10 loss
to Forest Park on September 29 all but eliminated the Mustangs
from the playoffs. With road trips to #1-ranked LaGrange and
#3-ranked Newnan on the horizon, prospects for the post season
Morrow shocked LaGrange 14-7 and Newnan 9-6 in
overtime to take control of their own destiny. The Mustangs went
to Fayetteville in the opening playoff game and defeated the
Tigers 20-10 to go 9-2 on the season. Griffin upset LaGrange to
also go 9-2, but Morrow got the nod to host the first round of
state. Statesboro spoiled the Mustang title hopes by the score
of 14-7 at Tara.
Defense carried the day for the 1990 Mustangs.
Sophomore linebacker Albert Barber, Michael Worley, Jimmy
Johnson, and Jason Bryant held every opponent to two touchdowns
1993 – North
North Clayton exploded onto the AA scene with an
undefeated regular season and the Region 5 title. The Eagles
topped the 50-point mark four times, scoring quickly from any
place on the field. In one three-game stretch, North Clayton
scored 25 touchdowns, including five kickoff and punt returns.
They destroyed Fulton 72-0, Cedar Grove 50-14, and Avondale 50-6
in consecutive weeks.
Duke Cooper was the leading rusher and scorer
with 17 touchdowns. The Mareno Philyaw to Corey Allen passing
combo was almost impossible to stop. The Eagles squeaked by
Cedar Grove 15-14 in overtime for the region title, and then
fell to East Hall in the first round of state.
1993 – Morrow
Morrow won the 4-AAAA North sub-region title
with an 8-2 record. The Mustangs defeated East Coweta in the
playoffs, but were denied the region title by Upson-Lee’s
victory over Mount Zion. Defense was the key factor to Morrow’s
success. Izell McGill, the county defensive MVP, led a defensive
backfield corps that intercepted an amazing 28 passes for the
year. Taris Clark and Keith Moody were the key offensive linemen
while John Nickson anchored the defense.
1994 – Forest
Forest Park captured the 4-AAAA championship
with a perfect regular season. Junior Todd Wells took over as
quarterback for the graduated Hines Ward and threw for 2329
yards and 21 touchdowns. He completed 164 of 294 attempts. The
balanced attack utilized the strong running of Telly Clark who
rushed for 1240 yards and 14 scores.
The Panthers got the attention of every fan in
the state with a two-point win over seventh-ranked Parkview.
They followed that with a 24-7 drubbing of top-ranked Upson-Lee
on the road the next week. A victory over East Coweta gave the
Panthers three straight wins over ranked opponents. Forest Park
faced Upson-Lee for the region title and won 35-31 on a Wells
run with six seconds remaining in the game.
Northside Warner Robins got 27 points in the
third quarter to oust Forest Park 41-21 from the state playoffs.
The Panthers finished 11-1.
1995 – Forest
Forest Park, with quarterback Todd Wells and a
trio of talented receivers returning, was the preseason favorite
to repeat as region champion. A newcomer to offense, Brandon
Walker, replaced Telly Clark at the featured back position and
had a monster year. The 1995 Panthers proved that teams can win
championships (at least region crowns) with offense.
Surrendering almost 300 points on the year, the offense had to
score at a prolific rate to win games.
Forest Park went 8-2 during the regular season
with losses to Parkview and East Coweta. They defeated
Riverdale, Evans, and Valdosta before losing again to Parkview
in the state semi-final. Wells passed for 2553 yards and 22
touchdowns and Walker ran for 2149 yards and scored 34 times.
1997 – North
North Clayton won Region 5-AA with a 9-1 regular
season. The only loss came at the hands of Jess Lanier
(Birmingham) in overtime. Unlike the region championship team of
1993, the Eagles had their share of nail-biters in 1997. They
trailed Douglas County by seven at the half, then got a 99-yard
kickoff return from Marcus Stinson to win the game by six. Cedar
Grove led 20-0 after the first quarter only to lose 29-26 on a
field goal by Donnay Young at the horn. North Clayton beat
Franklin County and Villa Rica in the playoffs before falling to
Carrollton to finish the year at 11-2. Cap Burnett was named the
Clayton Defensive Player of the Year and signed with Georgia.
Quarterback Tyrone Keith, Brian Henderson, and Olton Woodley
were the offensive leaders.
1997 – Mount Zion
Mount Zion completed a “worst to first” scenario
by winning the 7-AAAA title after posting a 1-9 mark the
previous season. The Bulldogs were a ball-control team
reminiscent of the 1988 Riverdale champions. A huge offensive
line opened holes for Marshall Thornton who ran for 1358 yards
and 13 touchdowns.
The season began with a thrilling 21-13 win over
third-ranked Douglass at Twelve Oaks. A 21-14 victory over
Dunwoody in the season finale clinched the region top seeding
for the state playoffs. A loss to Marietta in the mud at Tara
ended the season at 8-3.
1998 – Riverdale
Riverdale claimed the county’s seventh region
title of the decade with a perfect 10-0 regular season in Region
4-AAA. With a host of four-year starters returning, the Raiders
were not tested through the first 13 games of the campaign.
Peach County got two long scoring drives in the second half to
come from behind, ending Riverdale’s season at the Dome. The
running of Michael Leslie (2129 yards) and the passing of
Andreco Hines produced a county-record 34.5 points per game. The
defense allowed just eight points per contest with much of the
opposition scoring done late against substitutes.
1999 – Mount Zion
Mount Zion ran its way to a second region crown
in three years, using its huge offensive line to amass over 4000
yards on the ground. Rowan Jeffers (24 touchdowns), Ronnie
Holloway, and J.R. McNair (1691 yards) became the most prolific
rushing three-some in county history. At season’s end, Mount
Zion had scored 69 touchdowns and 500 points, both all-time
county highs. The Bulldogs were undefeated through the regular
season and won four playoff games before falling to Oconee
County in the state AAA championship.
1999 – Lovejoy
Lovejoy used a balanced offense and a stingy
defense to join the Clayton championship parade with a 4-AAAA
crown. The offensive produced 51 touchdowns and the defense held
opponents to a touchdown or less in seven games. Jason McNeill,
a junior, led the team in scoring with 17 touchdowns while Keith
Staple and Gary Higgins paced the defense. A two-way star,
McNeill was selected Clayton Defensive Player of the Year by the
2003 – Lovejoy
Lovejoy, behind the brilliant play of
quarterback Kisan Flakes, streaked to a perfect regular season
and claimed the Region 4-AAAAA title. The senior leader amassed
some of the best offensive statistics in county history,
throwing for 2356 yards and a county-record 24 touchdowns. The
AJC Offensive Player of the Year added 677 yards rushing.
Offensive lineman Anthony Parker also made the all-state team
while defensive end Jeremy Lomax was honorable mention.
Ninth-ranked Newnan, led by all-state quarterback Tyler Horne,
was the main challenger for the region crown. Lovejoy defeated
the Cougars 28-18 in a televised game in late October to secure
the top seed.
2004 – Lovejoy
Lovejoy began the season ranked ninth in the
state. The Wildcats fell quickly, however, with non-region
losses to Mount Zion and North Clayton. Then, they rallied for
six straight wins to earn a second straight 4-AAAAA title. A
strong line, led by all-state tackle Chris Scott and Jonathan
Battle, gave Lovejoy a strong rushing attack. Quarterback Mario
Fannin and tailback Octavius Edge produced the bulk of the
offense. The biggest game of the year came in late September
against Starrs Mill. Entering the game 2-2, the Wildcats upset
the state’s seventh-ranked team 27-26 in overtime. A loss to
East Coweta late in the season proved meaningless.
2004 – North
North Clayton won Region 5-AAAA (East) and
claimed a share of the overall region championship with an
undefeated regular season. Sophomore quarterback Morgan Burnett
had a break-out season, accounting for over 20 touchdowns. He
was a consensus choice for Clayton Offensive Player of the Year.
His main target was senior all-county receiver Dirk Engram.
North Clayton shocked the football world by blasting Lovejoy
47-0 in the second week of the season. The biggest win of the
year came against Mount Zion by the score of 7-6. Mays was the
only other team able to stay close to the Eagles in the regular
season. The postseason proved cruel. Leading by 12 with six
minutes remaining, North Clayton misplayed two onside kicks and
allowed Northwest Whitfield to rally for a 28-27 victory.