That could be a positive sign of things to come.
With the increased talent over the past few years, it’s a matter of time before someone slips through and brings Cobb County its first state championship since Marietta won it all in 1967.
This season marked the first time since 1959 that two local teams from different classifications — McEachern in Class AAAAAA and Kell in AAAAA — advanced to the semifinals, but that was as far as those two teams would go.
North Gwinnett went on a late second-half run to beat McEachern 27-21 on Friday at Walter Cantrell Stadium. Kell, meanwhile, was overmatched in its first and only loss of the season, a 55-10 setback at Creekside.
“We have good players, and I’ve been proud of their efforts,” McEachern coach Kyle Hockman said. “Hopefully, we’ll be in position to contend over the next few years. That’s our plan. That’s our goal.”
With North Gwinnett facing Region 7AAAAAA rival Norcross in the state championship Saturday at the Georgia Dome, a Gwinnett County team will win the state’s highest classification for the fourth straight year.
Last season, North Cobb ended up being the lone county team to make it to the semifinals, but the Warriors lost a 63-42 shootout to Lovejoy after taking an early two-touchdown lead in the second quarter.
The previous year, a Cobb state finalist was guaranteed when east Cobb rivals Walton and Lassiter met in the semifinals. The Raiders kept their perfect season alive with a win over the Trojans, but they came up short in the finals, losing 24-0 to a Grayson team led by Robert Nkemdiche, an elite recruit now at Mississippi.
This season, McEachern had a shot at advancing to its first state championship since 1998.
The Indians (11-3) seemed to be in the driver’s seat early in the second half of Friday’s game after scoring it at 14-all. McEachern then created a turnover shortly afterwards when Christian Ford intercepted a pass.
But the Indians turned the ball back over to North Gwinnett on the next play, and the Bulldogs scored on a 47-yard touchdown run by C.J. Leggett to take the lead.
The Indians couldn’t get the momentum back. The Bulldogs added to the lead with a pair of field goals before McEachern scored late.
What also hurt the Indians were their nine penalties, one of which negated a touchdown.
Kell couldn’t generate much offense at Creekside after getting on the board first with a field goal. The Longhorns committed five turnovers in the game, with the Seminoles scoring touchdowns on four of them.
Creekside went on and score 34 unanswered points after Cameron Massung’s 20-yard field goal.
Other teams also appear close to ending Cobb County’s wait for a state title.
Hillgrove has advanced to the state quarterfinals twice in the past four years, beating Camden County on the road both times to get there, and Mount Paran Christian is coming off a milestone season in its sixth year with an appearance in the Class A quarterfinals. Allatoona is also expected to be a factor next season, graduating just three starters.