A year after snow and ice forced the postponement of most of the Georgia High School Association football state championship games scheduled for Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium, a slightly more predictable event is threatening to push back the dates of all this season’s title games.
The prospect of Atlanta United, the city’s MLS team, hosting the MLS Cup championship game at the stadium Dec. 8 gained some traction with the team’s 3-0 win over the New York Red Bulls on Sunday in the first of two matches in the MLS Eastern Conference finals.
With the state football championships scheduled for Dec. 7-8, the GHSA revealed plans in July to move the title games to Dec. 11-12 — the following Tuesday and Wednesday — if the MLS team reached the league final and hosted the game.
That would become a reality if Atlanta United wins the second leg of the conference series Thursday at Red Bull Arena in New Jersey or doesn’t lose by more than three goals since the winner of the semifinal series is determined by team that scores the most goals in the two matches.
The GHSA state football playoffs continue this week with the semifinals happening at high school stadiums across the state. No. 1 Rome is at No. 3 Warner Robins in one of the Class 5A Final Four contests on Friday, while No. 2-ranked Rockmart hosts No. 4 Callaway in the Class AA bracket.
Rome was mere hours away from playing Warner Robins for the 5A championship at Mercedes-Benz Stadium last year, getting as far as both teams arriving to the multi-million-dollar facility, but the GHSA decided to postpone the games after only the Class A Public and Class 3A title games had been held.
Mercedes-Benz Stadium was unavailable the next weekend and, with the GHSA deciding to hold the remaining games at the participating schools’ stadiums. A coin toss was held with Warner Robins determined as the host of the 5A final. Rome went on to shutout the Demons 38-0 for its second straight state title.
The home of the Atlanta Falcons is once again unavailable the weekend following the original state championship dates as it hosts the annual Celebration Bowl college football game on Dec. 15.