JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – Friday’s game will match two teams unaccustomed to playing this deep in the playoffs.
Mount Pisgah played three seasons of football before joining the GHSA in 2006, and made its first playoff appearance last year, narrowly losing to top-ranked Athens Academy in the first round.
The Patriots have gone unbeaten this season, their first under head coach Mike Forester, the team’s defensive coordinator last year.
Aquinas is also playing under a first year head coach, 26-year-old James Leonard. Denny Leonard, James’ grandfather, was the first head coach at Aquinas, which opened in the 1950s after the two Catholic schools in Augusta merged.
The Fighting Irish have a long but mostly unsuccessful history in football, making the playoffs for the first time in 1971 and then again the next year, but missing out on the postseason for the next 30 seasons.
Led by current University of Georgia freshman running back Brendan Douglas, Aquinas reached the quarterfinals of the Class A playoffs in 2011, but was knocked out in the first round last year.
Aquinas got an early challenge this season, winning against George Walton Academy in overtime. The team clinched the Region 7-A title with a 33-32 victory over First Presbyterian the last week of the regular season, and withstood a second-half comeback last week by Mount Paran Christian to win 35-32.
Mount Pisgah defeated Mount Paran 28-24 late in the season, scoring two touchdowns in the final five minutes.