For the past several years, high school football teams in the area have found quite a bit of success. Eastside, Alcovy and Newton have all made the playoffs recently and it’s becoming like clockwork that the city hosts a playoff game at Sharp Stadium each fall. But the three county high schools aren’t the only local programs getting it done on the gridiron.
Piedmont Academy defeated Edmund Burke 13-8 to win the Class AA Georgia Independent School Association championship for the second straight year. Peter Lawson’s touchdown run with 15 seconds remaining propelled the Cougars to their second straight undefeated season. They went 13-0 in each the past two years and haven’t lost since the 2009 state quarterfinals.
Piedmont Academy won its first state title last year by also defeating Edmund Burke Academy 26-14 in the GISA Class AA championship game. While that game was close, this year's was a thriller.
Edmund Burke took the opening kickoff but was forced to punt. The Cougars wasted no time getting their offense going as they cashed in a long drive with a 1-yard touchdown run by Zach Benjamin to open the scoring.
Edumund Burke responded with a long kick return on the ensuing kickoff and took over at mid-field. The Spartans drove deep into Cougar territory but were denied on fourth down when Tyler Cullum batted down a pass attempt.
Piedmont moved the ball to mid-field but the drive ended with a fumble. The Spartans capitalized on the mistake and scored a touchdown on a toss sweep to running back Hagan Wade. The Spartans went for two and were successful and led 8-7 at halftime.
The teams traded possessions with neither sustaining any type of offensive continuity in the third quarter. The Spartans were successful in slowing the pace and kept the Cougars’ high-powered offense at bay. They were only able to keep Piedmont under wraps for so long.
The Cougars took possession on their own 17 with just under four minutes left on the clock and went on a 10-play drive with Lawson’s 20-yard touchdown run with just 15 seconds left on the clock the game winner.
With three seconds left on the clock linebacker Payden Cantera intercepted a last-second pass attempt to seal the victory.
Piedmont Academy’s stellar season can be summed up with one word, dominant, especially once the Cougars got into the playoffs. They outscored their opponents 96-29 in the three games.
They opened the defense of their state title with a 48-14 win over Region 2 No. 4 seed Brookwood. They followed that up with a 35-7 win over Region 1 No. 3 seed Brentwood in the semi-finals last week. In the much-anticipated rematch of last year’s finale, the Cougars clipped Edmund Burke for the second time this season.
Piedmont Academy beat Edmund Burke handedly 35-14 when the two teams met in region play last month. The title game was a bit closer in score. But the reality is the Cougars weren’t going to be denied.
Piedmont Academy’s season nearly mirrored what the Cougars did a year ago. Last year the Cougars scored 40 or more points eight times (out of 13 games) and scored at least 60 three times including a 63-8 drubbing of Flint River Academy in the opening round of the 2010 playoffs.
This season, the Cougars scored 40 or more points in nine games and topped 60 once. They scored at least 35 points in all but the championship game.
While the finale was closer than any other game Piedmont Academy played the past two seasons, it was a mere formality for Rhett Farmer and his team. It’s Farmer’s second state title as a head coach and the second in the 41-year history of the school.