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Thursday May 19th, 2022 6:15PM

Week 12 notebook: Bluff looking for rare perfection; playoff streaks, good and bad, on the line

By Jeff Hart Sports Reporter
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Every team in every sport always strives for perfection. As we all know, it’s tough to attain.

For a second straight season, Cherokee Bluff will try to pull off the unbeaten regular season. The Bears, who take on White County in Cleveland tonight, can do just that. 

However, they sat in the exact same spot in 2020 and lost 48-7 at home.

If the Bears (9-0, 5-0 Region 7-3A) beat the Warriors (4-5, 3-2 Region 7-3A), they would be just the 12th Hall County team ever to go perfect in a Georgia High School Association regular season. The last was Gainesville in 2009.

Eleven (11) Hall County teams overall in 420 combined seasons between the now-10 programs have accomplished the feat. Nine of those made it to the quarterfinals or better in those seasons. But only one -- Gainesville in 2009 -- made it to the championship game,

Here are all 11 previous perfect regular seasons with final records (playing at least 11 games) and end of season results:

  • 2009 Gainesville - 14-1 (State runner-Up)
  • 2008 Gainesville - 12-1 (Quarters)
  • 2007 North Hall  - 13-1 (Semis)
  • 2004 North Hall  - 12-1 (Quarters)
  • 2003 Gainesville - 11-1 (2nd Rd)
  • 2002 Gainesville - 13-1 (Semis)
  • 1987 East Hall   - 12-1 (Quarters)
  • 1983 Gainesville - 13-1 (Semis)
  • 1975 Gainesville - 10-1 (Region playoffs)
  • 1967 Gainesville - 10-1 (Quarters)
  • 1961 Gainesville - 11-1 (Semis)

PLAYOFF STREAKING (OR NOT)

Nearly a dozen Northeast Georgia-area programs kept their playoff streaks alive in 2021. Almost a dozen more saw their streak of non-playoff seasons continue as well. Three others saw their playoff streaks end this season.

No one in the area has a longer playoff run than Commerce. The Tigers, who are playing for the Region 8-A Public title against Washington-Wilkes tonight, ran their streak to 25 consecutive seasons. 

Buford is not far behind. The Wolves, who are playing for a Region 8-6A title tonight against Dacula, have now made the playoffs in 23 straight campaigns.

The next longest streak is Jefferson, which has advanced now to 11 straight postseasons. Rabun County reached double-digits with its 10th straight postseason in 2021.

North Hall and Dawson County, which play each other tonight for a home playoff spot in Region 7-3A, both extended their streaks to 7 consecutive seasons.  Flowery Branch ran its streak to 5 straight this season.

Union County made its fourth consecutive playoffs in 2021, while Banks County, Cherokee Bluff, and White County all extended their streaks to two straight postseasons in 2021.

However, Gainesville’s long playoff streak came to an end this season after advancing to 21 straight postseasons. Habersham Central and Lakeview Academy saw their streaks of one postseason appearance end in 2021.

Unfortunately, 11 programs saw their streaks of non-playoff seasons extend as well. Johnson has the longest non-playoff streak at 16 straight. The Knights last made the playoffs in 2004 under Blair Armstrong.

East Jackson is working on an 11-year streak of not making the playoffs. However, if the Eagles can beat Stephens County tonight, they will make their first postseason since 2009.

Chestatee has not made the playoffs since 2016 -- Shaun Conley’s first season -- and saw its streak rise to 5 after a gut-wrenching 27-20 loss to Cedar Shoals on Thursday night in Athens. The Jaguars scored a late touchdown to end the War Eagles season.

Jackson County’s non-playoff streak sits at 3, but the Panthers, with several possible scenarios in Region 8-5A, can end that tonight. The easiest path is to beat Apalachee and have Eastside beat Greenbrier.

Lumpkin County’s run of non-playoff seasons is now at 7. East Hall, Towns County and West Hall also have missed out on 4 straight postseasons. North Forsyth and Riverside Military Academy both sit at two straight, and Lanier Christian sits at one, but the Lightning can end that with a win tonight as well.

STATE LEADERS

As the regular season ends this weekend around the state, several Northeast Georgia-area players have a chance to claim, at least for the regular season, the top status in rushing, passing and receiving, or at least finish in the top 10 in their respective classifications.

Rabun County's Gunner Stockton and Jaden Gibson both still lead Class 2A, and the state, in passing and receiving. Dawson County's Bailey Dameron still leads Class 3A in receiving and is fourth overall in the state. North Hall's Kevin Rochester has climbed back into the state's top 10 in rushing and is second in Class 3A.

Gunner Stockton of Rabun County continues to lead Class 2A, and the state, sitting at 3,228 yards. The Wildcats have already completed their regular season and leads No. 2 passer, Aaron Philo of Prince Avenue Christian (2,738 yards, Class A Private leader), by nearly 500 yards. Prince travels to Athens Christian on Friday.

Chestatee’s Luke Bornhorst sat 31st in the state in passing overall with 1,907 yards coming into last night’s game. He was fourth in Class4A at the time.

No one in Northeast Georgia is leading their respective classifications in rushing, although Kyle Oakes of Towns County (1,438 yards) has climbed back into the top 10 in the state overall. He sits third in Class A Public behind leader Rob Brown of Trion (1,721 yards), who is second overall, and Brooks County’s Omari Arnold (1,514 yards), who is fifth. Jaiden Daniels of Commerce is now 23rd overall and third in Class A Public with 1,271 yards. The smallest classification in the state has three of the top eight rushers overall.

North Hall’s Kevin Rochester is now 14th overall with 1,352 yards and is just 18 yards off the Class 3A lead behind Duke Watson of Mary Persons (1,370 yards). Cherokee Bluff’s Jayquan Smith (1,228 yards) is 22nd overall and third in Class 3A and all three will be in action tonight.

Trey Ransom of Jackson County continues to climb the charts. Ransom is now 28th over and fourth in Class 5A with 1,175 yards. Silas Mulligan of White (1,007 yards) cracked the 1,000-yard mark last week and is 55th overall in the state.

In receiving, Rabun County’s Jaden Gibson continues to lead the state and Class 2A with  1,497 yards. The Wildcats have completed their regular season, and he leads Class 5A leader Malik Leverett of Greenbrier (1,249 yards) by 248 yards. Greenbrier is in action tonight.

Dawson County’s Bailey Dameron still leads Class 3A with 1,017 yards and is fourth in the state overall. He leads Miles Thornton of Sandy Creek (852 yards) by 165 yards and both teams are in action tonight.

Darius Cannon of White County is 32nd overall and fourth in Class 3A with 753 yards. Hunter Fouche of Chestatee was 41st overall and fifth in Class 4A coming into Thursday’s game with 717 yards.

Collin Crowder of Towns County was 61 overall with 656 yards.


SCORES FOR NOV. 4
Cedar Shoals 27, Chestatee 20*
King’s Ridge 44, East Forsyth 0


SCHEDULE FOR NOV. 5
Buford at Dacula*
Cherokee Bluff at White County*
Commerce at Lincoln County*
East Hall at Flowery Branch*
Elbert County at Banks County*
Gainesville at North Forsyth*
Gilmer at Union County
Jackson County at Apalachee*
Johnson at Clarke Central*
Lakeview Academy at Providence Christian*
Lanier Christian at Fideles Christian*
Lumpkin County at West Hall*
Madison County at Jefferson*
North Hall at Dawson County*
Shiloh at Habersham Central*
Stephens County at East Jackson*
Washington-Wilkes at Towns County*

(* -- denotes region contest)


OFF THIS WEEK
Johnson (regular season completed)
Rabun County (regular season completed)
Riverside Military Academy (regular season completed)

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