This past Friday, the PHS varsity football team traveled down to Atlanta to take on region 6-AAAA’s #2 seed and #8 4A ranked Marist War Eagles in the 1st round of the GHSA 4A State Playoffs. Pickens, went into the ball game looking for their first ever playoff win as this was the first meeting between the two schools.
Marist won the toss and elected to receive to start the ball game. As the War Eagles were driving towards mid field, the Dragons defense forced a fumble and game the offense good field position to start their opening drive. The War Eagle defense was able to stop the Pickens offense and give the ball back to their offense. Marist found the first points of the game after a 2-yd td run at the 5:54 mark to take a 7-0 lead. Chris Pittman got the Dragons on the board after a 41-yd td run giving us a 7-7 tie going to the 2nd quarter.
In the 2nd quarter, both defenses made it very difficult for either offense to get anything going. Ty Chastian connected on a 27-yd field goal for the Dragons at 3:10 mark giving Pickens a 10-7 lead. The War Eagles marched down the field using their triple option offense looking to tie or take the lead before the half. Marist called timeout with 2 seconds left in the half looking for a game tying field goal. The Dragons were able to apply pressure and block the field goal attempt sending us to the break with Pickens ahead, 10-7.
As was the story for the majority of the 1st half, the 3rd quarter was dominated by defense as both teams made it tough for the other to find any rhythm on offense. The War Eagles were able to take the lead with the only points of the quarter getting in the end zone with a 1-yd run giving Marist a 14-10 advantage going to the 4th and final quarter.
In the 4th quarter, The War Eagles stretched their lead with scores at the 10:52, 8:00, & 3:55 marks using a 3-yd run, a 48-yd run, and a 20-yd pass respectively to make it 35-10 Marist. The Dragons found the end zone at the 2:18 mark after a 46-yd td run from Marcus Byrd making it 35-17 War Eagles. Marist was able to recover the ensuing onside kick and score the game’s final points after a 44-yd td run with 26 seconds left giving us a 42-17 final. The War Eagles will now play Mary Persons in the 2nd round.
Pickens finishes the season at 8-3. This was the first time the Dragons were in the playoffs back to back seasons since ’04 & ’05 & had back to back 8-win seasons for the first time in school history. The senior class leaves tied for the most wins by a class with 27 wins.
On the night, the Dragons finished with 10 1st downs, went 4/14 on 3rd down & 2/2 on 4th down, had 286 total yards of offense, ran it 44 times for 216 yards and threw it 11 times for 40 yards.
Marcus Byrd led the Dragons in rushing with 121 yards on 12 carries & 1 td, Chris Pittman had 82 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown.
Defensively, the Dragons recovered a fumble, had 6 TFL, recorded 1 sack, & blocked a field goal attempt
Dillin Eilers led Pickens in tackles with 12, 4 solo, 8 assists, Kyle West finished with 11 total tackles, 8 solo, 3 assists, 1 sack, & 2 blocks, & Will Wotring finished with 10 total tackles, 7 solo, 3 assists, 3 TFL, a fumble recovery, & a pass break up.
Byrd punted it 6 times for a total of 235 yards, a 39.2 yard average, & landed 2 inside the 20 yard line
Hunter Golden returned 4 kicks for 101 yards and Dillon Gasaway returned 1 kick for 21 yards
Ty Chastain went 2/2 on PAT’s & 1/1 on field goals with a long of 27
For the season, the Dragons averaged 25.73 ppg, and gave up 19.09 per game, had 150 1st downs (13.6 a game), went 47/130 on 3rd down, & 11/24 on 4th down, collected 3,683 yards of offense (334.8 per game) on 636 plays (57.8 average), ran for 3,169 yards on the season (288 per game) on 531 plays (48.3 a game) for an average of 5.96 yards per rush. Dragons finished with a season total of 514 passing yards on 105 plays.
Marcus Byrd finished the season 30/64 passing for 333 yards and 3 tds while Jacob Brumby finished 20/40 for 181 yards
Chris Pittman led the Dragons in rushing finishing with 1,335 yards on 227 carries (5.9 yard average), and 18 tds, Byrd finished 771 yards on 106 carries (7.3 yard average) and 6 tds, & Dillon Gasaway ended the season with 505 yards on 86 carries (5.9 yard average) and 4 tds.
Walker Lawrence was the leading receiver on the season with 142 yards on 13 catches followed by Hunter Golden with 12 catches for 106 yards, then Bradley Ragano with 6 catches for 100 yards.
Defensively on the season the Dragons forced 22 total takeaways, 14 fumbles and 8 INT’s, had 751 total tackles, 68.5 TFL, 16 sacks, 13 forced fumbles, 30 pass break ups, and 6 blocks
Dillin Eilers led the Dragons in tackling this season with 110 total tackles (57 solo, 53 assists), followed by Kyle West with 85 total tackles (54 solo, 31 assists), & Jacob Gordon finished with 77 total tackles (48 solo, 29 assists)
Avery Luke led the team in INT’s with 4, Alex Pittman led the way in sacks with 4, Lawrence & A. Pittman led the team with 2 forced fumbles, Gordon, Lawrence, & A. Pittman tied for the team lead in fumble recoveries with 2, Caleb Brooks & Zack Hermann led the team in pass break ups with 6, & Cortlin Norton led the team with 3 blocks.
Byrd punted it 31 times for a total of 1,298 yards, a 41.9 yard average, a long of 58, & 10 inside the 20 while C. Pittman punted it 14 times for a total of 514 yards for a 36.7 yard average, a long of 53, & 4 inside the 20
Hermann led the team in punt return yards with 120 on 8 returns followed by Brooks with 117 yards on 8 returns
Gasaway led the team in kickoff return yards with 186 on 7 returns followed by Brooks with 185 yards on 6 returns, then Golden with 101 yards on 4 returns
On the season Ty Chastian went 35/36 on PAT’s, a 97.2% accuracy rate, & 10/12 on field goals, 83.3% rating, & a long of 42 yards.
This past Friday, the PHS varsity football team host the Purple Hurricanes of Cartersville in what was the 7-AAAA Region Championship game. Cartersville came in ranked anywhere from 1-3 in different polls and undefeated on the season at 9-0 with a 6-0 region record. Pickens came in winners of 4 straight, undefeated at home on the season, 8-1 overall, & 5-1 in region play. The Dragons had a little extra motivation as the seniors were recognized for Senior Night prior to the game beginning.
Cartersville won the toss and elected to receive. Pickens held the high powered Purple Hurricane offense and gave the Dragon offense a chance at the first points. The Cartersville defense held the Pickens offense as both defenses came to play early. The Purple Hurricanes got on the board at the 7:51 mark after a 49-yd run by Trey Creamer to make it 7-0. Both teams went back and forth for the rest of the quarter, but no points could be found and we’d head to the 2nd quarter with Cartersville leading 7-0.
It was a defensive battle in the 2nd quarter as both teams showed why they have been two of the top defenses in the region all year long. Creamer again found the end zone after a 19-yd run at the 3:06 mark making it 14-0. 14-0 would be our halftime score as we went into the break. Cartersville added to their lead in the 3rd with a 50-yd run by Creamer at the 9:43 mark & a 10-yd passing td from Trevor Lawrence to Creamer at the 1:18 mark giving the Purple Hurricanes a 28-0 lead going to the 4th and final quarter.
Lawrence connected on another td pass at the 7:46 mark in the 4th to make it 35-0 Cartersville. The Dragons got down to the red zone late in the quarter but an intercepted pass in the end zone stopped the Pickens drive & the Purple Hurricanes ran out the clock to take this one, 35-0. With the win, Cartersville wins the 7-AAAA Region Championship and will go into the playoffs as the #1 seed with a 10-0 record. The Dragons finish the regular season with their 2nd straight 8-2 regular season and will be the 7-AAAA #3 seed and travel to Atlanta to take on the 6-AAAA #2 seeded Marist War Eagles.
In what was a tough game offensively for Pickens, the Dragons finished with 8 1st downs, 2/13 on 3rd down, & 0/2 on 4th down, had 181 total yards on 55 plays, 113 yards rushing on 40 total carries, & 68 yards passing on 15 attempts.
Marcus Byrd finished the night 2/6 for 32 yards & Jacob Brumby went 4/9 for 36 yards
Byrd led the Dragons in rushing with 33 yards on 9 carries followed by Chris Pittman with 28 yards on 10 carries, Brumby finished with 24 yards on 6 carries, & Dillon Gasaway ended the night with 17 yards on 9 carries
Walker Lawrence led the Dragons in receiving with 22 yards on 2 catches, followed by Cortlin Norton with 17 yards on 1 catch, & Jacob Pair finished with 1 catch for 15 yards
The Dragons defense 3 TFL, forced & recovered a fumble, broke up 3 passes, & Dillin Eilers & Nick Southern combined for a sack
Ricky Klimbal & Avery Luke led the Dragons with 6 total tackles. Luke finished with 5 solo & 1 assist, & a fumble recovery, while Klimbal had 4 solo and 2 assists, Eilers finished with 5 total tackles, 4 solo, 1 assist, 1.5 TFL, & a 1/2 sack, & Dalton Gasaway ended the night with 5 total tackles, 4 solo, & 1 assist
Byrd punted 8 times for 337 yards, a 42 yard average, a long of 54 yards, & landed 2 inside the 20-yd line
Pickens will be taking on 8-2 Marist next week in the 1st round of the 4A state playoffs. This will be the 1st meeting between the two schools. Marist is ranked in the top 10 in 4A in some polls. Pickens will be looking for their first playoff win in school history.