And they have the kind folks of Cobb County to thank for it.
As Valdosta came north and left with a 42-14 loss to North Cobb, Marietta went south and came home with a 30-27 upset of No. 6 Lowndes. It marks only the second time since 1974 that the south Georgia city — once deemed “TitleTown USA” by ESPN — will not have at least one of its two football teams in the second round of the playoffs, and it will keep the town from adding to the 28 state championships its teams have combined to deliver.
The effort from North Cobb and Marietta, particularly in the face of all that tradition, may have surprised some, but Blue Devils coach Scott Burton put the accomplishment in perspective.
“History means a lot to people in Marietta, too,” he said. “All week long, I got texts and emails from people wishing us well. There’s the concept that only south Georgia teams have tradition, at least to them. But we have tradition and we’ve won state championships, too.”
The city of Marietta won back-to-back state championships in the late 1960s, with Lemon Street — the city’s former all-black school — claiming the 1966 Georgia Interscholastic Association state title and Marietta winning the 1967 Class AAA title in the Georgia High School Association.
To date, Marietta’s title remains the only GHSA title won by a football team from Cobb County.
Now, this year’s Marietta team will move into the second round for the second straight year and will travel to Lovejoy next Friday.
For North Cobb, it’s been quite longer since it has been to the second round of the state playoffs. The last time the Warriors made it out of the first round was 1959, when North Cobb beat Dade.
That game was a scoreless tie after regulation, but the Warriors were credited with a 2-1 win based on penetration — a much-debated policy the GHSA continued to employ, instead of overtime, into the early 2000s. In a list of four criteria, North Cobb had the deepest drive into Dade’s opponent’s territory — it was on the 1-yard-line when time ran out — and it tied Dade in first downs (10).
Dade had more trips into North Cobb’s 20-yard line — four to two — but thanks to an 87-yard drive in the game’s final moments, the Warriors were given the win by outgaining Dade 189-185.
North Cobb didn’t have to sweat out Friday’s game near as much.
The Warrior defense intercepted five passes and made five sacks, while quarterback Tyler Queen connected on two touchdown passes and ran for two more.
It made for a nice night for coach Shane Queen.
“It’s my first win in the playoffs as a head coach,” he said. “And, to get to share that with (my son) Tyler, I can’t tell you what it means to me.
“Getting the win was such a cool experience. It’s a great testimony of what we’ve done as a team over the last year.”
Now the Warriors can prepare for a road trip to Langston Hughes.
In a turn of events, what looked like a split for Region 5AAAAAA’s teams Friday soon turned into a sweep for Region 8AAAAAA.
For most of the night, Lassiter and Walton seemed to be in complete control of their games, but both allowed fourth-quarter leads to slip away, and they eventually lost in overtime to Brookwood and Parkview, respectively.
Lassiter came into the game ranked No. 1 in the state, but instead of moving on to Round 2, it became the second top-ranked Cobb County team to lose in the first round in as many tries. North Cobb did it in 2007, when it fell to Peachtree Ridge.
Two other local teams also advanced to next week’s second round. In Class AAAAA, Kell will host high-scoring Gainesville and Allatoona will travel to undefeated M.L. King.
The other team in action will be Walker, which will begin the Class A private-school playoffs by hosting Athens Christian.
Pope, Wheeler, Hillgrove and McEachern joined Lassiter and Walton in seeing their seasons come to an end.
As the No. 1 seed from Region 4AAAAAA, McEachern may have gotten the worst draw of any team in the postseason, having to host 10th-ranked Colquitt County — a No. 4 seed — a week after it upset Camden County, which preceded Lassiter as the state’s No. 1.
McEachern had the ball last, but it couldn’t get close enough for a potential game-winning field-goal and lost an offensive shootout 30-28.