Staff Photo: John Bohn Grayson defensive back Kasey Gaines (5) nearly intercepts a pass intended for Walton receiver Dakota Richardson (2) during the second quarter of the Class AAAAA state football championship game played Saturday at the Georgia Dome.
From the Class AAAAA State Championship
ATLANTA -- For the fourth straight season, the Georgia Dome has provided proud bookend moments for the eventual Class AAAAA state champion.
With Grayson's 24-0 win over Walton in Saturday's final, the title winner in the state's highest classification both began and ended its season with wins at the Dome in each of the last four campaigns, joining Brookwood (2010) and Camden County (2008 and 2009).
The Rams opened this season by beating Kell 7-0 at the Corky Kell Classic back on Aug. 20.
Rams Dome-ward bound again
Grayson was one of four Gwinnett County teams announced at halftime of Saturday's game as participants in the 2012 Corky Kell Classic, to be held Aug. 25 at the Georgia Dome.
The Rams will play the second of the day's five games against McEachern at 11:45 a.m.
The only game of the day without a Gwinnett team will open the day's festivities at 9 a.m., with Cobb County's Kell High School taking on Chattahoochee from north Fulton.
Other games in next year's Corky Kell Classic include North Gwinnett getting a playoff rematch with Colquitt County at 2:45 p.m., Peachtree Ridge taking on another south Georgia power in Camden County at 5:30 p.m. and Brookwood closing out the day against Walton at 8:30 p.m.
Tying up Tyren
In keeping running back Tyren Jones in check for just 74 yards on 16 carries, the Rams held the Walton star junior to his lowest output of the season.
In fact, they became just the third team to hold Jones -- who entered the game with 2,267 yards, including four games of 200 yards or more, and 34 TDs -- under 100 yards this season.
One of those occasions was when his playing time was limited during a 30-0 win over Woodstock in the last week of the regular season Nov. 4, when he had 81 yards, but on just four carries.
The other was an 83-yard night on 23 carries in a 42-16 Walton win over Milton on Sept. 2.
More importantly, after scoring 34 touchdowns -- including at least one in every game -- the Rams kept Jones and the rest of the Raiders out of the end zone completely.
Jones had only been held to a single touchdown in just four of Walton's previous 14 games.
Jones-in' to play
After missing Grayson's previous seven games following surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee, all Korey Jones wanted was one last chance to get on the field and end his high school career on his feet.
The senior wingback got his wish, with the Rams running out the clock with around two minutes remaining.
Head coach Mickey Conn sent him in for one play, and while Jones did little except run forward for about five yards while the play went up the middle, it was enough.
The fact that it came as the Rams secured their first state championship made it even sweeter.
"That's all I needed," said Jones, who actually injured his knee during basketball season last winter, but it wasn't discovered until he damaged the meniscus during running drills in a practice days after Grayson's win over Parkview on Oct. 14. "It's amazing. There's no feeling better than it. I'm kind of at a loss for words. ... I had faith in my team.
I felt like (the injury) wouldn't happen for no reason. If it happened, some big things were coming in the future."