WHO'S ALREADY A CHAMPION: Augusta Christian. The Lions won their first state title in the SCISA Class AAA final Friday.
WHO'S A CHAMP, PART II: Thomas Jefferson. The Jaguars also earned a state title Friday with a 13-12 upset of Robert Toombs on the road. Thomas Jefferson became the first Class A team from the GISA to beat the Crusaders since Nov. 15, 2002. It snapped a span of 26 straight Class A wins.
WHO'S HOT (CHAMPIONS CATEGORY): Thomas Jefferson freshman running back Derrick Mathis, who filled in admirably after 2004 Augusta Chronicle Independent School Player of the Year Ty Brett was sidelined by a broken arm for most of the season. Mathis ran for 1,622 yards and 11.2 yards per attempt on the year. He had 148 yards and both of his team's touchdowns in the title game.
WHO'S HOT (STILL PLAYING CATEGORY): Lincoln County's defense. The Red Devils have given up an average of 6.5 points per game in a 10-game win streak against Class A schools.
BEST WINS LAST WEEK:
1. Augusta Christian 24, Porter Gaud 7: It doesn't get sweeter than the first state football title in school history.
2. Thomas Jefferson 13, Robert Toombs 12: And if you can't win the first, there's something to be said for winning a third title (1998, 2000 and 2005) over eight seasons.
3. Strom Thurmond 32, Myrtle Beach 14: The Rebels gave up 14 points despite 56 pass attempts by the Seahawks.
BEST STAT: Aiken held Westside to 2 net yards rushing in the second half last week and rolled to a 47-23 win.
TOP THAT: Strom Thurmond receiver Jarrell Taylor made one of the top plays of any season against Myrtle Beach.
Taylor got separation on his defender, then came back for the ball. A jarring hit soon after the catch had him reeling, but he propped himself up with a hand on the ground at the Myrtle Beach 17.
Taylor proceeded to make a defender look silly with a juke at the 8, then split two defenders to finish out the play just shy of the goal line.
"That's the play of the game," Strom Thurmond's Tony Dugar said. "Best play by far."
TOUGH JOB AHEAD: Aiken (12-1) is a definite underdog this week. They'll buzz to Duncan, S.C., on Friday to face a Byrnes program that's rated the No. 11 team in the nation in the latest USA Today Super 25 national poll. Byrnes has scored 684 points in 13 games this season and allowed only 125.
BIG PLAYOFF GAMES:
1. Lincoln County (10-3) vs. Johnson County (12-1): The Devils face Wrightsville's best team since Herschel Walker left town.
2. Washington-Wilkes (11-2) vs. Bowdon (12-1): The Tigers hit the Georgia Dome on Saturday. They would love a chance to avenge an earlier loss this year to Lincoln County for the state championship next week.
3. Aiken (12-1) at Byrnes (13-0): A bronze statue of coach Carey Johnson would cover a community's thanks if he can cook up a win against a team that's won the past three South Carolina Class AAAA Division II state titles.
WANT ADS: North Augusta officially posted its opening online last week. The coach who gets the job will be pleased with what the future holds.
"Someone is going to win a lot and contend for championships with our ninth and tenth graders," outgoing coach Joe Long said earlier this season. "We've got a whole bunch of good players on our freshman team."
- Wagener-Salley's Steve DeRiggs also will not be back as coach next season. He'll remain as athletic director and baseball coach.
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