ATLANTA, Ga. - Grayson (Loganville, Ga.)
earned preseason national rankings
before the school had ever played in a state championship game, much less won one.
Now that the first state title is in the bag, Grayson isn't afraid to say those national rankings have some merit.
The No. 6 team in the MaxPreps Xcellent 25
presented by the Army National Guard, Grayson defeated Walton (Marietta, Ga.)
24-0 on Saturday at the Georgia Dome in the Class AAAAA final
In other finals Saturday, Burke County (AAA
) and Savannah Christian (A
) won their first state titles in the Georgia High School Association.
Grayson's Robert Nkemdiche
, one of the nation's top-rated junior defensive tackles
, led a defense that held Walton (14-1) to six first downs. Nkemdiche also was the game's leading rusher with 85 yards on 19 attempts.
Grayson led 24-0 at halftime in a game that matched unbeaten, untied teams in the final of Georgia's highest classification for the first time in 10 years.
The victory likely will put Grayson (15-0) in the top five of several national polls.
‘'I hope we're No. 1,'' Nkemdiche said. "We're a great team. We don't have the best athletes in the world, but we really come together as a team. I'm really proud of us.''
Mickey Conn, who started the Grayson program when the school opened in 2000, entertained those notions as well.
‘'I think you've got to make an argument for it, and the fashion we did it in was petty good, but we're just thankful to have a state championship,'' he said. "All the rest is mythical. As far as we're concerned, we're national champs.''
Grayson took control in the first half, jumping to the big lead. Nick Schuessler
went 3-for-3 passing for 108 yards and two touchdowns, both to Callen Hightower. One was a 45-yarder, the other for 11 yards after Ryan Carter
had returned a punt 67 yards.
Grayson held Walton junior Tyren Jones
, the state's leading rusher, to 78 yards on 16 carries. Jones gained 52 yards on a run in the final minutes well after the game was decided. Walton had minus-16 yards rushing in the first half.
In the Class AAA final, Burke County (Waynesboro, Ga.)
(14-1) defeated Peach County (Fort Valley, Ga.)
28-14. Burke trailed 14-0 but dominated the second half as quarterbacks Donquell Green and Corey Mayton
each rushed for two touchdowns. Green had 127 yards rushing on 17 carries.
In the Class A, Savannah Christian (Savannah, Ga.)
(15-0) beat Landmark Christian (Fairburn, Ga.)
20-3 and became the first Savannah school to win a state title in the GHSA since 1969. Led by nose tackle DeAngelo Brown, who committed to Louisville this weekend, Savannah Christian held Landmark to three first downs and 75 yards of total offense.
Savannah Christian didn't complete a pass for positive yardage but ran for 254 yards. Will Austin led Savannah Christian with 89 yards on 10 carries.