What: Semifinals of the GISA Class AAA playoffs
When: Friday, November 18, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Webb Stadium, Albany
2011 records: Stratford is 10-1 overall. Deerfield-Windsor is 10-2 overall.
Last week: Deerfield-Windsor defeated Mount de Sales, 24-7. Stratford defeated Bulloch, 42-7.
All-time series record: Stratford leads 22-19.
First meeting: Stratford 21, Deerfield-Windsor 12 (1970)
Last meeting: Stratford 14, Deerfield-Windsor 10 (2011)
Analysis: The Deerfield-Windsor Knights achieved the first step towards advancing to their fourth straight GISA Class AAA state championship game last Friday, as they defeated Mount de Sales out of Macon, 24-7. Now, only another squad from Macon stands between the Knights and another trip to the finals in the Stratford Academy Eagles.
With the exception of four seasons (1975, 1976, 1984, and 1985), Deerfield and Stratford have played each other every year since 1970. It’s truly one of the greatest rivalries in all of the GISA.
Stratford, though, had the upper hand in the first seven games of the series, going 7-0 between 1970 and 1974. The Eagles outscored the Knights, 212-38, in those contests, including two postseason contests, both championship games. Deerfield won its first game over Stratford, 17-12, in 1977. That started a streak of four straight wins by the Knights over the Eagles that lasted into the early 1980’s.
Since 1986, both Deerfield and Stratford have played at least one game against each other for the last 26 years, including this year. The Knights have gone 15-12 in the last 27 meetings against the Eagles, including this year’s 14-10 setback at Stratford earlier this season. Between 2002 and 2007, Deerfield won seven straight games over Stratford, including a 31-7 rout over the Eagles in the first round of the 2002 state playoffs that helped propel the Knights to the first of their three state championships.
Both programs have built solid winning traditions over the years. Entering this Friday’s game, Deerfield has an all-time record of 272-186-10, with state titles being win in 2002, 2008, and 2010. On the other hand, Stratford has an all-time of 303-169-6, with eight state championships, the most recent in 2004.
In a bit of an ironic twist, the Eagles were a combined 17-0 during their first two seasons, 1970 and 1971. They put together a string of three straight state titles during the early 1970’s. The Eagles defeated the Knights for the 1970 and 1972 state championships, and didn’t suffer their first losing season until 1979, when they finished that season at 3-5-1.
In another irony that worked in Deerfield’s favor, the Knights lost to Stratford in the third game of the 2008 season, dropping their overall record to 1-2 at the time. Deerfield would go on to win 11 straight games to take home second state title, as the Knights outlasted Westfield, 17-12.
While the 42nd all-time meeting between Deerfield-Windsor and Stratford is sure to produce yet another memorable moment in the history of this long-standing rivalry, none of them will produce the kind of stakes that both teams face this Friday, as the winner will punch their ticket to the state championship game next week.
Source: Georgia High School Football Historians Association (http://www.ghsfha.org/)