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GHSA mulling instant replay
Controversial finish of 3A final reignites debate
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The Georgia High School Association will consider using video replay to review officials’ calls in the wake of a controversial play in Saturday’s Class 3A football championship game, three members of GHSA’s board of trustees indicated Monday.
“Yes, I think we are going to have to look at this,” board chairman and GHSA president Jim Finch said. “Currently, it is against the GHSA bylaws to use video evidence to overturn judgment calls. It’s not something that we can just vote on today to pass and be effective immediately. It will require some thought and planning.”
Board members Jasper Jewell and Steven Craft echoed Finch’s remarks.
“We almost have to now,” Jewell said. “We have no choice but to have it for championship events, at least.”
Said Craft, “It is not possible in the regular season, but we need to look at using replay for the championship games. We owe it to the players and coaches to do everything we can to make sure the correct result is reached.”
The play that reignited the debate occurred in the final minute of the Sandy Creek-Cedar Grove game at Center Parc Stadium.
Travis Franklin scored the winning touchdown in his team’s 21-17 victory on a 1-yard run with 50 seconds left, but video from the GPB Sports broadcast indicated that Franklin was tackled short of the goal line. The play took place on third down, so Sandy Creek would have had another shot at the touchdown or a tying field goal. Video replays met with harsh criticism and went viral.
Cedar Grove ran a controversial play of its own earlier in the game, when quarterback Elliott Colson was ruled short of the end zone on a third-down run from the 2. GPB replays appeared to show the ball crossing the line.
Cedar Grove coach John Adams was pleased to hear that the GHSA will consider replay in the future.
“Maybe something good to come out of this game will be replay so you don’t have that error in a big game,” Adams said. “I know those are judgment calls, and I’m not dogging any referees or anybody. Sandy Creek played a heck of a game. But there was a reason they implemented replay in college and the NFL. Even referees at that level sometimes make mistakes, so let’s find a system where we can make a correction on a mistake of that magnitude.”
GHSA bylaws don’t allow officials to use replay to overturn calls during games or for the GHSA to change the outcome of completed games based on video evidence. Schools also may not base appeals on video evidence.
The Sandy Creek-Cedar Grove call was the most controversial since 2017, when Peach County believed a bad call cost it a late touchdown in a 10-6 loss to Calhoun in another Class 3A championship game.
On that play, Peach County’s Noah Whittington caught a pass at the Calhoun 5-yard line and stretched out for the goal line (see photo of the play below, taken by Jason Getz for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution). The ball popped loose in the end zone when it hit the ground. Instead of a touchdown or first-and-goal with 3:33 left, the play was ruled an incomplete pass, giving Calhoun possession on downs.
     At the time, the GHSA noted that National Federation of State High School Association rules prevented the use of video replay.  In 2019, the NFHS approved video replay for postseason contests, and a minority of states, including Alabama, now employ it.
The trustees have the power to implement instant replay in Georgia, but any change almost certainly would go through the GHSA’s executive committee, which has representatives from the GHSA’s 64 regions. It meets in April.
GHSA executive director Robin Hines and his office have no authority to change bylaws, only to enforce them. Hines had no comment Monday.
The board members acknowledged that any proposal would require planning and discussion to consider feasibility and protocols.
“For example, is instant replay used only in the finals?” Finch said. “Would this be used for all sports? Whose video evidence? GPB’s camera angles? Perhaps begin with football, since it has the most sophisticated camera coverage, and see how it works. Another issue would be training for officials. And I’m sure there are many other factors I have failed to mention. But if we have the technology, and we can get the correct call, then I say we can at least begin exploring the answers to the questions I posed.”
Other considerations would be determining which plays can be challenged, who can initiate a review and who makes the decision to overturn, how many cameras to employ and the costs of equipment and hiring more officials.
“The biggest challenge would be logistics, which is why I think only championship games, because those venues will have the bandwidth to take care of that,” Jewell said. “I don’t think cost will be as big of a factor as people think. I do know there has been talk this weekend, very unofficial through some of the board of trustees. We all agree that we have to seriously consider replay.”
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Finals set for return to the Benz
GHSA expected to announce move Thursday
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The Georgia High School Association is expected to announce Thursday that it is moving the football championship games back to Mercedes-Benz Stadium beginning in 2023.
The GHSA and the Atlanta Falcons are holding a joint media event Thursday at 2 p.m., the association said in a press release issued Tuesday afternoon.
GHSA executive director Robin Hines said in October that he was negotiating with the Falcons to move the games to the Falcons’ home stadium, but he hasn’t spoken publicly on the matter since and had no comment Tuesday.
The football championships games have been held at Georgia State’s Center Parc Stadium the past four seasons. This year, the eight football and three flag football championships were played over three days ending Saturday.
The finals were held at Mercedes-Benz in 2017 and 2018 and at the Georgia Dome from 2008 to 2016.
Attendance at the open-air Center Parc Stadium has been below the standards of the indoor stadiums but peaked last week at 34,653, up more than 50% over the 2021 attendance of 22,631. The average over four years was 27,443.
The eight championships drew 40,462 to Mercedes-Benz in 2018 despite being played over three weekdays to accommodate the Atlanta United soccer team’s playoff match the previous weekend. In 2017, an ice storm forced six of the eight games to be played on high school fields. Attendance at the old Georgia Dome was even higher, surpassing 45,000 each season from 2014 to 2016.
The COVID-19 season of 2020 and weather problems contributed to the attendance decline at Center Parc. The 2022 games were played in good weather for the most part, although the Class 4A final between Benedictine and Cedartown was played in rain that got heavy in the final moments of a 14-13 game decided on a tackle at the 1-yard line on the final play.
The GHSA moved out of Mercedes-Benz and into Center Parc in 2019 largely because of money. The cost to rent Mercedes-Benz Stadium at the time reportedly was around $500,000, or as much as four times the cost Georgia State offered. It can be assumed that concessions have been made.
The Falcons have a history of supporting high school football. The Georgia Dome and later Mercedes-Benz have been the site of Corky Kell Classic opening-week games since 1992. Mercedes-Benz has a wall that features the helmet of every Georgia high school football team, and the Falcons honor a weekly high school coach of the week.
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Here is where Georgia teams stand in several national polls. The numbers on the left are this week's rankings; the numbers in parentheses are last week's rankings.
(Top 100)
3. (5) Mill Creek
14. (15) Hughes
21. (12) Carrollton
32. (31) Buford
33. (29) Colquitt County
43. (63) Ware County
51. (56) North Cobb
52. (38) Cedar Grove
63. (62) Gainesville
71. (64) Walton
75. (NR) Sandy Creek
77. (NR) Benedictine
79. (77) Westlake
80. (87) Prince Ave. Christian
87. (89) Milton
100. (90) Rome
(Top 25)
15. (17) Hughes
17. (24) Mill Creek
20. (24) Carrollton
(Top 100)
12. (18) Mill Creek
15. (17) Hughes
22. (20) Carrollton
30. (30) Colquitt County
36. (36) Buford
46. (45) Walton
49. (NR) Sandy Creek
53. (33) Cedar Grove
88. (87) Gainesville
91. (98) Ware County
(Top 100)
7. (11) Mill Creek
10. (13) Hughes
17. (17) Buford
25. (26) Colquitt County
31. (37) Ware County
32. (18) Carrollton
51. (42) Cedar Grove
65. (51) Gainesville
67. (69) North Cobb
59. (82) Roswell
80. (81) Walton
81. (83) Thomas Co. Central
83. (91) Milton
84. (64) Cedartown
85. (NR) Benedictine
87. (88) Westlake
89. (92) Grayson
92. (87) Rome
(Top 100)
14. (15) Hughes
16. (18) Mill Creek
28. (31) Colquitt County
32. (20) Cedar Grove
35. (35) Buford
54. (26) Carrollton
77. (77) Walton
83. (82) North Cobb
92. (91) Milton
95. (NR) Gainesville
(Top 25)
10. (17) Mill Creek
11. (11) Hughes
19. (24) Buford
(Top 25)
18. (22) Mill Creek
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  • 4 weeks later...
1 hour ago, GardenStateBaller said:

Our boots on the ground in ATL tell us that ballers are transfering from Buford to Gainesville in droves. More to come. 

Like Buford, Gainesville is an independent city school system. It’s going to be interesting to see how far off the reservation they can go before the GHSA gets involved. Given their location, Gainesville could easily bring in a dozen blue chips a year. 

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