JOHNS CREEK, Ga. — After a two-year drought, Alpharetta has reclaimed its title of region champions.
The Raiders compiled an 8-0 season in Region 7-AAAAAA, capped off by a lopsided, 41-14 win over Chattahoochee Friday night. It is their third title in six years.
The game was a must-win for the Raiders as a loss would have meant Centennial would take the region crown. But that wasn’t something on the mind of quarterback Matthew Downing.
“People have been talking about scenarios and what was going to happen if we lose,” Downing said. “We didn’t think about that. All we had was one job and that was to go 1-0 in a region game.”
Downing completed just five passes in the game, but those five completions included 177 yards and three touchdowns.
All of Alpharetta’s six touchdowns would come on plays of 20 yards or more. Nolan Edmonds racked up 160 yards rushing and three touchdowns on just eight carries. His two latter rushing scores came from 63 and 45 yards out.
“Those big plays over the top are big momentum shifters, and we were able to get those tonight,” Downing said.
Meanwhile, Alpharetta’s defense held Chattahoochee to just 165 total yards. It was the sixth straight game the Raiders held their opponent to 14 points or less.
And it was a performance from both sides of the ball that allowed the Raiders to once again claim region supremacy.
“It’s been three years since an Alpharetta team can say they were region champs,” said head coach Jacob Nichols. “To be able to do that is an awesome feeling.”
Nichols said his team’s nine straight wins can be partly attributed to the Raiders’ four losses of one score last year.
“I think for our young guys, that trained to understand how to handle adversity, how to come back and keep plugging away,” he said. “They’ve adopted that mentality and its worked for us nine weeks in a row. Hopefully that will continue.”
While there was celebration on the Alpharetta sideline, Hooch had to deal with the trying loss. With a win, they would have placed second in the region and earned home-field advantage in the opening round of the state playoffs.
“The frustrating part of this game is we know what level we can play at and we just didn’t play there tonight,” said Hooch head coach Vince Strine.
He is still proud of his team’s accomplishments in the regular season, stating he is amazed at how far the program has come in five years. But the loss to Alpharetta showed the Cougars must improve heading into that first round game.
“We’ve got to get a lot better in a short amount of time,” he said. “We want to make a run in the playoffs and in the playoffs you play teams like Alpharetta.”
Hooch’s playoff appearance will be its first in six seasons, but they aren’t happy just to earn that berth.
“We’re not happy just to be in the playoffs, we want to win,” Strine said. “There’s two types of teams in the playoffs—those are just happy to be there and make quick exits, and those that are in it to win it. We want to be one of those teams that want to win. “