Now Carrollton (8-3) will be facing the team currently ranked second in the state in the second round of the state playoffs on Friday night in Atlanta at 7:30 p.m.
“I did say that when the region classification came out, that we lost two perennial state contenders from old AAA that didn’t move up. That was St. Pius and Peach County. But in return we got three perennial state contenders from AAAA that stayed in. Marist would be my No. 1, then Griffin and Statesboro. Sure enough, Marist is second-ranked,” Teague said.
The War Eagles (10-1) are looking to continue their eighth 10-plus win season since 2000, but first since a state final appearance in 2008. Leading the way for Marist is coach Alan Chadwick, the 10th winningest coach in Georgia high school football history, who got his 300th career win — all at Marist — in this year’s season opener. Chadwick is 309-54 overall since taking over the Marist program in 1984, including its state championship wins in 1989 and 2003.
“They just have a great program. They have had some great players. They are a more athletic, bigger bunch like St. Pius. They’re like St. Pius, but they have bigger numbers and usually more athletic and larger players on an annual basis. They’ve had some great [players] go through there and coach Chadwick has won over 300 games and just have a tremendous program. They do a great job with their triple-option offense, and then they always play lockdown defense,” Teague said.
Marist has a wealth of Division I players, as senior quarterback Myles Willis is committed to Boston College, 6-foot-4, 235-pound tight end Greg Taboada is committed to Stanford and defensive lineman Steve Wallace has an offer from Kentucky, with others expected to get looks.
Between the lines, Marist is led by Willis, who with 831 rushing yards and 13 rushing touchdowns combined with 707 yards and six scores through the air, make him a threat every time he touches the ball. And with the War Eagles running the triple-option, Willis is always an option.
“[Willis] is definitely what makes it go. I think he has offers from Boston College and Central Florida, supposedly runs a 4.34 40 and he’s got his hands on the ball every play. So he’s very dangerous,” Teague said.
The other main rushing threats come from senior Gray King and sophomore Griffin King. The elder King leads in yardage with 455 yards and six rushing touchdowns on 54 carries to go with two touchdown receptions. Griffin King has more touches, 87 carries, with 403 yards and four scores.
But when the War Eagles are just off the goal line, it’s a different kind of running attack and ultimately animal in itself. Marist lines up 6-foot-1, 290-pound defensive lineman Wallace in the backfield and lets him do the rest. Wallace has four touchdowns on five carries for a total of eight yards.
“He’s just big and strong. He’s able to shuck blocks. He’s difficult to block, big, strong and powerful,” Teague said.
There’s a reason for his football prowess, as Wallace is the son of Steve Wallace, Sr., who played at Auburn and won three Super Bowls with the San Francisco 49ers.
As dangerous as the War Eagle offense can be — scoring just over 35 points a game and hitting the 50-point mark three times — the defense is even more potent.
On the year, the Marist ‘D’ has allowed a total of 86 points for a 7.8 points per game average, has five shutouts and in the last eight games, where it’s allowed just 36 points total during that span.
“As we prepare this week, you’re looking at a team that has pitched five shutouts. I think they’ve only allowed two teams to score more than a touchdown this season. They’re extremely strong on defense. Their defensive front is big that features about three Division I prospects on the line,” Teague said. “It’s going to be quite a challenge for us.”
The formula for both teams has been scoring a lot and keeping their opponents out of the end zone this year. The Trojans average more than 46 points while allowing just 8.9 points — no more than 14 — in their eight wins this season. Something will have to give on Friday night.
“We just have to do a good job on our side with the ball. Offensively, we’ve got to make plays and defensively — like any time you play the triple-option — you’ve got to play really good assignment, discipline football. We’ve got to be aggressive and stay after them. Offensively, we have to be physical and try to pound on them and use our speed to get the best of them,” Teague said.