In its final tune-up ahead of the state playoffs, Prince Avenue Christian’s football team rolled past Athens Christian.
The Wolverines topped the Eagles 55-9. Though the Region 8-A-Private region title was already decided before kickoff, the postgame scene saw Prince’s players, coaches and more celebrate its region championship. For senior quarterback Brock Vandagriff, the title celebration was a long time coming.
“It feels great,” Brock Vandagriff said. “My first year at Prince was eighth grade and we won it that year and I think they won it for a couple of years in a row and we haven't had it since. It's good being able to get it back in the trophy case in the Prince main hallway.”
Athens Christian drove deep into Wolverines territory on the game’s opening drive but settled for a field goal. From there, Prince Avenue was in complete control.
Brock Vandagriff hit Chas Scoggins for a 32-yard touchdown with 2:48 left in the first quarter to take a 7-3 lead. A few minutes later, the quarterback connected with Landon Owens on a 45-yard score.
Zac Dyer caught a 55-yard scoring pass to improve the lead to 21-3. Prince Avenue added onto it with a 64-yard pass from Brock Vandagriff to Dyer with 2:42 left in the second quarter.
With less than a minute to play in the first half, Brock Vandagriff tossed a pass to Logan Johnson, who scurried around the field between defenders for a 49-yard score.
Dyer caught his third touchdown less than four minutes into the third frame. The Eagles scored a touchdown about four minutes later and missed the extra point attempt. Brock Vandagriff then hit Jake Pittman for a 90-yard touchdown.
Tate Jernigan scored on a 4-yard run with 6:42 to play, which gave the Wolverines their 55-9 lead.
By the end of the night, Brock Vandagriff had 494 yards passing with seven touchdowns.
Though he was the one receiving excited attention on social media for his big night, Brock Vandagriff said it was the skill of his receivers that allowed for such an explosive night.
“Teams are gonna think we have a million different plays when we just run the same plays a million different ways,” the quarterback said. “Those guys do a good job. A bunch of our plays, they have options on what to do. They're smart receivers and they know exactly where they're going. They read the defenses well, so that makes my job a lot easier. Getting the ball to them quick and letting them make plays is why we've got them on our team.”
Dyer, who finished with a team-high 174 yards receiving on five catches, said Athens Christians’ defensive approach helped him and the other receivers find space.
“Everything was working,” Dyer said. “Deep (routes) were working, shallow routes. Everybody was wide open. [Athens Christian] was playing far off, so we were wide open once we got the ball.”
Defensively, Prince Avenue got sacks from Bailey Stockton and B.J. Green. Josh Britt and Scoggins recorded one interception each. Davis Ridings and Green recovered one fumble apiece.
Those highlights plays helped get the Wolverines defense off the field in crucial moments. Those stops were necessary, too, thanks to the work of dynamic Athens Christian running back Johne’ss Davis
“It was just resilience,” Wolverines head coach Greg Vandagriff said. “Let's not take anything away from Johne’ss. He's one of the best backs in the state and just doesn't get enough credit of what a really good running back he is. He was a handful all night.”
Brock Vandagriff threw an interception early in the second quarter. He said it was due to a “stupid throw” and said he must improve.
That’s because the five-star quarterback knows the rest of this year’s games hold greater significance.
The Wolverines open the state playoffs this Friday at home against Hebron Christian Academy. They got to this point after knocking off cross-town rival Athens Academy on Oct. 23.
That win over the Spartans gave Prince Avenue the edge in the region race. Brock Vandagriff said it was imperative to beat Athens Academy then but, now that the playoffs are starting, the team must keep an eye out for a rematch with the Spartans or games against other state title contenders.
“We knew if we wanted to win the region, we had to beat them,” Brock Vandagriff said. “We did that and we felt like, with the other games, we just had to come out here, do our thing and not beat ourselves. I think we might be able to see ACAD later in the playoffs. Them, ELCA and Fellowship, I believe, are probably the three teams I feel confident could win a state championship.”
The Wolverines think they have a strong chance to win it all, too.
That’s why Prince Avenue’s players enter the postseason with a sharp focus.
“Playoffs mean the world to us,” Dyer said. “We definitely want to get that state ring, so we're gonna be playing harder than ever.”