Savannah Christian aims for state title vs. favorite Cedar Grove

PREVIEW: Raiders v Saints in GHSA Class 3A State Football Championship

The 2023 Savannah Christian Raiders Football Team.
The 2023 Savannah Christian Raiders Football Team.
Against some pretty lengthy odds, the Savannah Christian Raiders are in the GHSA Class 3A state football championship. On Wednesday, Dec. 13 at 1 p.m., Savannah Christian (12-2) will meet Cedar Grove (9-5) at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta for the title.

The Raiders have been somewhat of an afterthought around the city this year, largely due to the deserved attention being paid to Calvary Day and Benedictine – a pair of No. 1 ranked teams in Class 3A and Class 4A, respectively. Still, SCPS arrives in the championship game on a nine-game winning streak, with three top-10 wins to its record in its last three games. Critics may point to a questionable “fifth down” play in their first round game against Peach County, but the Raiders did enough to win that game in four overtimes, and they’ve done plenty since then to warrant playing for it all.

BY THE NUMBERS
SAVANNAH CHRISTIAN
Record: 12-2
Head Coach: Baker Woodward
Composite 3A Ranking: 5
Points Scored: 600 (41.9 per game)
Points Allowed: 245 (17.5)

CEDAR GROVE
Record: 9-5
Head Coach: John Adams
Composite 3A Ranking: 2
Points Scored: 492 (35.1 per game)
Points Allowed: 385 (27.5)

Georgia Public Broadcasting will show the game on television and it will be streaming online at www.gpb.org/sports. It’s the first championship game for Savannah Christian since 2011, when it last won a state title. Since then, Cedar Grove has won four state championships (2021, 2019, 2018, 2016). The Saints beat Calvary Day in a shootout in the semifinals, 49-42. SCPS hasn’t played a close game (outside of Peach County) since losing to Calvary Day, 42-21 on September 15.

Cedar Grove is led by a dynamic duo of quarterback EJ Colson and Bo Walker. Both have rushed for more than 1,000 yards and both were critical in the Saints’ victory over Calvary Day. Using the read-option approach, these two will go a long way in deciding how successful Cedar Grove will be on Wednesday in Atlanta.

Savannah Christian averages 253.6 rushing yards per game behind an electric duo of Zo Smalls (245 carries, 1,808 yards, 30 touchdowns) and Kenry Wall (99, 1,036, 15). Sophomore quarterback Blaise Thomas has exceeded expectations even with the plethora of weapons at his disposal. Thomas has thrown for 1,897 yards and 14 touchdowns (10 interceptions) on 109-of-164 passing (66%) and his primary weapons have been David Bucey (53 catches, 769 yards, six touchdowns), Logan Brooking (35, 506, 3) and Wall (19, 500, 5). Wall’s all-purpose yardage (1,991) leads the club.
click to enlarge Savannah Christian aims for state title vs. favorite Cedar Grove (2)
[SCPS]
SCPS junior Elijah Griffin.

Defensively, the Raiders’ have two of the best edge rushers in the state in junior Elijah Griffin and freshman Ladamion Guyton. They and Jamari McIvory (seven interceptions) lead a defense which has forced 29 turnovers in 14 games. Jaden Miles (145 tackles) leads the team in tackling while Griffin (97 tackles, 31 TFL) and Guyton (82, 19.5) have combined for 27.5 sacks.

Travis Jaudon

Travis Jaudon is a general assignment reporter for Connect Savannah. He is a Savannah native and host of Hot Grits Podcast. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram, @JaudonSports. [email protected]


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