In Class AAAAA, Sequoyah led early against South Paulding, but it surrendered 28 points in the fourth quarter and lost 44-21 in Douglasville.
Creekview, a No. 2 seed, hosted East Paulding, but found itself trailing 27-6 in the fourth quarter. The Grizzlies fought back furiously over the final 12 minutes and in the end lost by just a point, 34-33.
Etowah traveled to face defending Class AAAAAA state champion Norcross. The Eagles struggled offensively and were unable to put any points on the board in a 28-0 loss.
Each of the coaches said their teams played hard, and while there were some tears shed on the field by the end of the night, no one had anything to be ashamed of at the end of the season.
Terry Crowder, who saw his first season at Creekview come to an end, said he couldn’t have imagined coaching a better group of players.
In a postgame talk, the message to the seniors was simple.
“I wish I could have coached you all for four years,” he said.
Crowder went on to say that he was proud of the way his players bought into his ideas, and that they had put their all into it. To the returners, he reminded them that there’s plenty to look forward to in coming years.
“We are going to do great things at Creekview,” Crowder said. “The kids have great character. They work hard. We are going to do great things here at Creekview.”
For Etowah’s Dave Svehla, the 7-4 mark was a great improvement over his first season at Etowah, when the team went 4-6.
The Eagles will graduate many key players, including quarterback John Oliver, but injuries allowed some underclassmen, such as Bronson Rechsteiner, to show there will be still be talent in the tank.
Sequoyah finished 8-3 for its best mark in the five seasons James Teter has coached the team.
Teter said that while a coach always want to end the season with a state title, the Chiefs at least took a few steps toward that goal.
“Any time you can make the playoffs and take younger kids to be a part of it, that is going to help you down the road,” he said. “The hope is that they learn from it and they want to keep getting in it. Obviously, we would like to be better than (8-3), but we will take it and try to keep building on it.”
Looking back, it can be said that the majority of the county’s six teams took steps forward.
In some cases, they took great leaps.
Cherokee was on the cusp of the playoffs after winning just one game last season. Woodstock installed a new offense and found a way to stay in every game it played. Even River Ridge, which finished 2-8, continued to see progress from its young program, which struggled after graduating the bulk of its team.
For each team, the future looks bright.
For a few of the seniors, their football careers aren’t quite over. Some will be signing college scholarships in February, and some will take part in in the Georgia Northwest All-Star Bowl in December at McEachern High School in Powder Springs.