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GHSA Football Talking Instant Replay And Mercedes-Benz Stadium Return

We’re three days removed from the Georgia High School Association football season coming to an end, however high school football is still top of mind for many. Ultimately, the three days of the GHSA championship weekend was full of entertaining and exciting finishes, however, the weekend would not go without some controversy, including a touchdown call that would gain national attention and would have many call for the association to implement instant replay for state championship games.

During the 3A title game, featuring the Sandy Creek Patriots taking on defending champs, the Cedar Grove Saints, after trailing 14-10 late in the fourth quarter, the Saints would score to take a 17-14 lead. On the ensuing possession, the Patriots would drive down field and find themselves at the Cedar Grove one yard line with a minute to go on third and goal. A direct snap to Sandy Creek’s Travis Franklin would appear to come up short and looked to force a fourth and goal, but officials signaled for a touchdown giving the Patriots the lead.

Upon further replays that circulated throughout social media and national news outlets, it was clear that Franklin was at least a yard short of the goal line, however, since GHSA by laws do not permit for replay to be used to assist in review of calls, the Sandy Creek touchdown stood and the Patriots would go on to win the 3A championship by a final of 21-17. As expected, social media was flooded with commentary about the call and many called for GHSA to make a change and implement instant replay, something that was brought up following a controversial call in a 2017 championship game when Peach County’s Noah Whittington appeared to have stretched across the goal line for a touchdown, however the ball jarred loose after hitting the ground and the ruling was an incomplete pass.

Peach County would eventual lose the game to Calhoun 10-6. Fast forward to this past weekend’s controversial call, and reports say that GHSA is now considering the use of replay in the future for championship games. According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, board chairman and GHSA president, Jim Finch is quoted as saying that GHSA is going to “have to look at this,” in reference to the use of replay. When we reached out to executive director, Dr. Robin Hines, via email on Tuesday, his response was that “the Board of Trustees and staff will be discussing video review after the holidays,” and as noted by the AJC, according to Finch, “it will require some thought and planning”.

While the controversial Sandy Creek, Cedar Grove call may have been the most talked about situation from the weekend, it was not the only topic on the minds of many. The GHSA football championships have been held at Georgia State University’s Center Parc Stadium, which is an open air venue, since moving out of Mercedes-Benz Stadium after the 2018 season. From bad weather to the COVID-19 restrictions of the 2020 season, attendance for the championship games had seen a decline after moving out of MBS, however this past weekend saw attendance rise above 50% the previous year’s attendance to 34,653, almost 6,000 less than the three day event when last held at MBS.

Back in October, Hines announced that he had been in talks with the Falcons to bring the championship games back to MBS and on Tuesday told us that no updates were available in regards to the conversations. However, AJC has announced that according to a press release from GHSA, they will hold a joint “media event” on Thursday to announce that the championship games will be moving back to MBS for the 2023 season.


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