The DeKalb contingency of football teams still playing for state supremacy has been pared down to Marist and St. Pius X.
Each has advanced to this week’s GHSA semifinal games — in classes 4-A and 3-A, respectively — with a date in the Georgia Dome on the line.
St. Pius came out on top in last week’s 40-35 third round shootout with Washington County.
The Golden Lions recovered three onside kicks while leaning on the production of Brandon Mitchell (164 rushing yards), Ryan Braswell (three TDs) and Daniel Crochet (10 tackles).
Marist, meanwhile, used its stifling defense to throttle Stockbridge 15-7. The War Eagles held the Tigers’ run-oriented offense to 31 rushing yards en route to nabbing the win.
Friday night’s games:
Marist at Ridgeland
Once again, the Marist D will be called upon to slow down a vaunted run game.
Ridgeland’s — led by fullback Darrell Bridges and tailback Vonn Bell — may be the best the War Eagles have seen this season, though. Bridges and company abused Mary Persons defenders during Ridgeland’s 45-14 win last week.
The Marist D, fueled by a collective of players like end Greg Taboada and mike linebacker Jason Morris, has pitched five shutouts this season — while only allowing two teams into the end zone more than twice.
The winner of this game will meet the winner of this week’s Monroe Area – Sandy Creek tilt Dec. 15 at the Georgia Dome.
North Hall at St. Pius X
This marks the Golden Lions’ fourth trip to the final four in program history, the first in six years.
Judging by last week’s gutsy early onside kick call, St. Pius X coach Paul Standard and staff are prepared to use everything in the playbook in the pursuit of a victory here.
To take the next step, the Golden Lions will have to trump a team in North Hall that enters the game firing on all cylinders — evidenced by last week’s 52-10 dismantling of Peach County.
St. Pius X’s stable of ball carriers, in all likelihood, will have to be the difference.
The victor of this game will play the winner of Friday night’s Buford – Cartersville matchup for the AAA crown Dec. 14 at the Dome.
Stephenson and Tucker fall
Tucker’s bid to defend its state title fell short as Northside Warner-Robins scored on a touchdown pass with 24 seconds to play to pull out a 23-20 victory. Juwaan Williams led the Tigers with three TDs in defeat.
Elsewhere, Stephenson fell to Ware County 14-0 to end its season.