Clinch County began the 2002 season as the #1 ranked team in Class A, and the Panthers will deservedly finish the same way after pounding Cinderella team Dooly County 50-14 in the finals. Clinch controlled the game from the start and led 22-0 at the half with their outstanding athletes. Our congratulations to the Panthers on their third state football title in their 50th season.
Now, here's a little something for Lincoln County fans to consider: Clinch played 11 Class A teams in 2002. If you don't include the Lincoln game, Clinch's average winning margin is over 36 points (and exactly that margin in both the final and semifinal). The Lincoln game was Clinch's closest against a Class A team, coming from behind in the fourth quarter to win by 14. Now, considering how well the Devils played eventual state champion Clinch County, you have to wonder just where Lincoln County should be ranked in relation to other Class A schools in the final polls.
Thomson outlasted Thomas County Central 42-27 to win the Class AAAA crown in a game broadcast live on GPTV from the Brickyard. The title is the fifth for the Bulldogs, with previous football crowns in 1967, 1968, 1984, and 1985. Coach Luther Welsh is now tenth on the Georgia all-time coaching list with a record of 274-50-4. Also in the area, Screven County defeated Dublin 24-7 for the AAA title.
In the AA title matchup, Buford won its 30th straight game as it whipped GAC 34-10. GAC's only losses were to Buford this year. Buford, as the 2002 AA champ and the 2001 A champ, is the only GHSA team in 53 years to win back-to-back state football titles in different classes. Buford coach Dexter Wood is tied for 24th on the all-time Georgia coaching list with a record of 229-90-3.
Class AAAAA champion Parkview whipped Brookwood 28-7 for its third straight title and the Panther's 45th straight win to set a new winning streak record for the state of Georgia. Lincoln County owned Georgia's longest winning streak since 1978, nearly a quarter century. The first mark was 38 games from 1978 to 1991, when the Red Devils won 44 straight.