THOMASVILLE — To win the state title is one thing, but to win by putting up 49 points on the number three defense in Georgia 6A is simply remarkable. This game was won at the line of scrimmage with Central’s defensive and offensive lines dominating in the trenches. For proof, just look at the rushing stats for both teams.
After a 29 carry game against Marist in the semi-finals, senior Trey Brenton showed Mercedes-Benz Stadium what he is made of with yet another iron man performance. Behind his powerhouse offensive line, Brenton took 23 carries for 154 yards and two touchdowns. The holes that the o-line opened up allowed Brenton to average almost seven yards per carry in his final game for the blue and gold and break free for several 15 plus yard runs, something Brenton isn’t necessarily known for. Quarterback Jaylen Johnson was also able to contribute in the run game. He ran for over 100 yards on 12 carries for two touchdowns, several of which went for over 20 yards.
Central’s offense was very run heavy as the Jackets looked to establish their run game early, as they have all year. But, unlike the Marist game, Johnson made every pass count. Despite throwing just six completions in the game, Johnson’s pass game was explosive and electric. Three of his six completions went for touchdowns and the sophomore netted 135 passing yards. Malachi Thomas recorded just two catches all night, but took them both to the house for 57 yards. Tre’von Pringle was explosive in the pass game as well, catching four passes for 78 yards and a score.
All three of the Jackets passing touchdowns were long bombs for quick scores. None of Central’s scoring drives lasted more than three minutes and five of their seven touchdowns went for 20 yards of more.
On the other side of the ball, the Central d-line was on another level. Not only did they hold Woodward to just 71 yards on the ground, which is one of only four times this season the War Eagles were held under 80 rushing yards, but the Jackets were in the Woodward backfield all night. Head coach Justin Rogers noted that Woodward was a very balanced offensive team coming in, but the War Eagles decided to “sell out” to the pass game. It’s quite possible that Woodward saw how effective Central had been against the run all year and decided to go pass heavy.
While Woodward quarterback Landon Walker did have an impressive game, throwing 22 completions for 309 yards and a pair of touchdowns, most of that production came in the second half after the Yellow Jackets had built up a 28 point lead. Combined, the Central d-line had ten sacks on the night. It was a career defining game for Walter Reddick and Cam Brooks, as both finished with multiple sacks and Reddick blocked a punt early in the game. When Central wasn’t sacking Walker, they were able to force him out of the pocket where he was visibly uncomfortable in the first half.
Giving credit to Walker, he was able to adjust to the pressure in the second half, but in the first half, when Central forced him out of the pocket he made bad throws and often settled for a short gains on the ground.
Needless to say it was a beautifully executed game all around for the Yellow Jackets. They put pressure on the War Eagles offense and ran their offensive game plan to perfection. There were very few flaws in the game for the Yellow Jackets, as they took home the state championship with a 49-28 win over Woodward.