And the way Trojan coach Rayvan Teague sees it, this could be the birth of a new — and long overdue — rivalry now that both teams are in the same classification.
“I think that it’s probably going to become a standard. With us being in AAAA and them staying in AAAA, the likelihood of seeing them regularly in the playoffs is pretty strong. Even next year. So it’s a great matchup. We’ve kind of conquered some giants through the years, at least since I’ve been here. The first one that comes to mind is LaGrange. Carrollton had never beaten LaGrange and now we’ve beaten them three straight. So I think every time you play a team you get a little bit better, you learn a little bit more about them and you become more familiar. So I think it’ll be a great series for years to come,” Teague said.
When it comes to the storied history of both programs, the numbers speak for themselves.
Marist, which is celebrating its 100th year of football this fall, has an overall record of 645-309-38, with two state titles (1989, 2003), three conference titles and 22 region championships. Carrollton, meanwhile, owns a 617-209-28 all-time record, with seven state championships and 29 region titles.
The two coaches in Friday’s game will take the field with a combined 516 victories and three state championships between them. Marist head man Alan Chadwick has never had a losing season during his 28-year career leading the War Eagle program, going 309-54 with two state championships. Teague has a career record of 207-66-1 in 24 seasons with one state title, including going 114-24 during his 11 years at Carrollton, with a trip to the Georgia Dome in 2010. Teague has also never had a losing season while in charge of the Trojan program.
Both coaches earned their milestone victories at the start of the 2012 season, as Chadwick joined elite company as one of 12 high school football coaches in the state of Georgia to win 300 games, including the Class AAA state title in 1989 and the AAAA crown in 2003. He also led Marist to the state finals in 1987, 2006 and 2008.
Marist owns the 3-1 edge in the all-time series, though the Trojans won the last meeting, a 43-6 decision in the region playoff in 1993.
The other three games were played in the 1920s, with Marist winning a 24-13 contest in 1922 and a 14-12 ball game the following year. After a two-year break, the War Eagles bested the Trojans again in 1926, 21-3.
And come Friday, the two teams will strap it up again for the fifth time — with the right to move on to Game 13 on the line.
“I think it’s great for two storied programs like ours to go at it in this situation. It’s always fun when you play the private schools because you know they’re going to be extremely well-coached and execute. It’s kind of like a chess match and a checker competition for the coaches to get after it. So from that standpoint, that’s fun,” Teague said.
“You know you’re going to get a high-level game that is extremely competitive. I think the fact that both programs have been so good through the years makes it even more intriguing to the fans. It should be a great environment.”
Though top-seeded and second-ranked Marist (10-1) holds the edge when it comes to experience with its veteran ball club, the second-seeded Trojans (8-3) got battle-tested during the regular season and return a handful of players that started in Game 13 last season in the Class AAA playoffs.
“I mean, we’ve played Calhoun, we’ve played Sandy Creek. We’ve seen that type of atmosphere. But I feel like it’s going to be a great game. They’re a great program, and I think we’re going to do good and go out there and do what we need to do to win,” noted Trojan junior tight end Cole Cook.
Carrollton junior defensive lineman Dontavious Russell said being a part of a game like Friday’s will be something special, and one you have to make the most of every chance you get.
“It’s a good feeling, because once again we get to come out and it’s kind of like we get to prove ourself against somebody that is just as good as us. It feels good to come out and play somebody and know it’s going to be a good game,” Russell said. “We play some teams on our schedule where we play and it’s just a game. But those other games are more like a playoff atmosphere.”
And if you’re lucky enough — and good enough, of course — to be one of the few teams still chasing down the dream of a state title at this time of the year, that’s something special in itself.
“If you’re playing on Thanksgiving, it’s starting to get pretty exciting. So the second round and the opportunity to go to Game 13 ... yes, we make it pretty much a standard here to get at least to the second round. But there’s a lot of places where they’ve never even experienced a playoff win. So it’s exciting. It’s never old hat,” Teague said. “Each group of kids wants to do the best that they can, and we’re playing for this year’s seniors and trying to give them the best going out that we can do.”