What a year for APS! After wondering if football would be played this season because of COVID, the athletic administration made it work. All schools were allowed to play except under one condition: NO FANS ALLOWED!
While this was tough for faithful alums, fans, and those loving APS Athletics, it turned out to work for the best. This football season resulted in four APS teams making it to the playoffs. While two were eliminated in the first round (Washington and Jackson), the other two were able to make a playoff push.
The South Atlanta Hornets went on a historic run this season finishing in the second round of the playoffs with a 42-6 loss to Bremen. The Hornets made history in many ways:
First winning regular season in school history (7-3), first region championship ever, first playoff appearance since 1995, first home playoff game and win in school history (playoff win coming against Chattooga 26-14).
All in all, these are five huge achievements for a school that is widely known for being a basketball school. Hornets head coach Brad Stephens has led this program to higher heights and will continue to build off of that momentum going into next season. They will return quarterback John Lawton and runningback Keyjuan Brown who were pivotal in their offensive attack.
A team that has players that will be back next season will seek to make a deep playoff run in Class AA. One thing for sure, this is only the beginning for the Hornets and Brad Stephens.
The Panthers of Carver were so close to getting back to the semifinals since their appearance in 2017. Unfortunately, their season came to an end at Pierce County in the quarterfinals with a 51-18 loss.
After starting the season 0-3, the Panthers were able to finish the season 6-1 and host a playoff game. Their tough schedule contributed to a rough start but proved to be beneficial in the end. The Panthers opened the season at Cherokee in the Corky Kell Classic but fell to Cherokee 38-12. The next week, they faced a great Lovejoy team in a game that came down to the wire but fell by one point in a 27-26 loss.
After defeating Hart County 32-21 in the first round, the Panthers went on the road and defeated Cherokee-Bluff 23-21 in a game that they led the whole way.
This season couldn’t have panned out any better for the Panthers after a rough start and a chance to host a semifinal game at home. Injuries at running back caught up with the Panthers but they prevailed getting through the first two rounds.
Carver Atlanta head coach Darren Myles has proven he can be successful and lead a team deep into the playoffs. Next season could be a huge chance to do more damage and get back to the semifinals.
They have a ton of talent returning next season including players Kiontae Strozier, Jarveous Brown, Devonte Amasiani, and Marquis Bentley Jr.
For the Bulldogs of Washington, they were able to host Model in their first-round matchup. After falling late to South Atlanta early in the season, this, in turn, cost them a chance at the region championship but put them in a position to make a great playoff run.
While Washington High School fell short in the first round, they have much to look forward to and improve on. Specifically, the run defense of the Bulldogs will seek to get better after being unable to stop Model on the ground.
Offensively, they will look to reload at quarterback as Monye Jones will graduate this year. Veteran coach Chauncey Prather will seek to figure things out as they prepare for the offseason.
The Jackson Jaguars were able to squeeze in the playoffs after finishing 4-2 in region 6 5-A (4-7 overall). A tough 0-6 start with losses to powerhouses Lee County and Bremen made the Jaguars dig deep for answers.
Their first win would come at home on homecoming against Chapel Hill where they prevailed 24-21. From that point on, they finished 4-0 making their way into the postseason.
Unfortunately for the Jaguars, their first-round opponent included a road trip to 5-A powerhouse Cartersville which resulted in a 56-6 loss.
As they look forward to next season and offseason, they will need to find answers on offense as their senior quarterback Jeremiah Rowe will graduate this season.
Overall, the district finished with four teams in the playoffs (three hosting playoff games) and one team two games away from a state title. It is safe to say that this will only get better when next season comes around.