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Column: Breaking down the GHSA football brackets as we go to Week 2 and round two

Taking a look at what happened and what lies ahead on the prep gridiron.

The views of the author may not be the views of AllOnGeorgia.

The Georgia High School Association football state playoffs are under way.

They started with first-round games last week in all seven classifications, and now this week the postseason moves into Week 2 with the second-round games as teams compete to advance to the quarterfinals in their respective tournament brackets.

Before we look at what will be taking place this week in the round of 16 in each of the eight playoff brackets, let’s first look back at what took place last week in the opening round.

First-round Notes

* Last fall, home teams and favorites dominated on the opening weekend of the playoffs.

This year, that wasn’t the case.

According to Georgia High School Football Daily, eight region champions and 11 ranked teams lost their first-round games.

Also, road teams fared better this year as the lower seeded teams were 32-80 in round one versus 13-99 a year ago.

There were eight total wins by No. 4 seeds. One of those was Tift County, which finished fourth in Region 1-7A and got an at-large bid to the largest classification playoffs. The Blue Devils won 42-7 at No. 6-ranked Roswell.

*In Class 7A, Region 1 saw three of its teams advance with top seed Colquitt County, Lowndes and Tift all winning while Camden County lost at Walton. The three remaining teams are the most by any region in Class 7A with teams still alive in the title chase.

Also, Gwinnett County has six teams in the round of 16. Those are defending state champion North Gwinnett, Grayson, Parkview, Norcross, Archer and Mill Creek.

* In Class 6A, Region 2 swept Region 3 with Glynn Academy defeating Evans, Effingham knocking off Lakeside Evans, Richmond Hill winning at Greenbrier and Bradwell Institute winning at Grovetown.

The victory for Effingham was its first in the state playoffs since 1987. The Richmond Hill win was just its fourth playoff triumph in the program’s 33-year history, and Bradwell got its first playoff win since 2008.

This week, Region 2 and Region 1 meet in four games – Valdosta at Glynn Academy, Coffee at Richmond Hill, Bradwell at Northside-Warner Robins and Effingham at Lee County.

* In Class AA, Brooks County head coach Maurice Freeman recorded a milestone-victory when his Trojans defeated Screven County 47-0 in the first round.

The win was Freeman’s 200th as a head coach. Freeman has been coaching for 26 seasons and has a 200-98 career record.

Freeman is in his second stint with the Trojans where he is 146-46 in 16 seasons with a state title and five region crowns.

He was 17-24 in four seasons at Southwest Macon and 37-28 in six seasons at Brunswick before going back home to Quitman.

Brooks hosts Washington County this week as Freeman goes for No. 201.

* In Class A, where the playoff brackets are set using power rankings, there were five so-called upsets in the eight first-round games played in the private school division as five lower-seeded teams won.

The biggest surprise was No. 24 Holy Innocents decking No. 9 Mount de Sales, 44-21.

In the public school bracket, only one lower-seeded team won in the opening round. That was No. 18 Montgomery County winning 37-12 at No. 15 Claxton.

Second-round Glance

Here are what looks to be the most intriguing games in each bracket.

* Class 7A – Walton (10-1) at Hillgrove (11-0) – These two Cobb County teams have only played once with Hillgrove winning in the 2013 regular season. Hillgrove hasn’t advanced to the quarterfinals since 2014 while Walton has not been beyond round two since 2011.

* Class 6A – Valdosta (7-4) at Glynn Academy (8-3) – Glynn beat Valdosta 27-3 in the first round last year. The Wildcats destroyed Glynn in a preseason scrimmage back in August. The Red Terrors are gunning for a fifth straight trip to the Elite 8. Valdosta won the 2016 state title. The Wildcats win with offense and Glynn’s strength is defense.

* Class 5A – Ware County (8-3) at Warner Robins (9-2) – This will be just the second-ever meeting between these heavyweight programs. Warner Robins won when they first met in the 2004 semifinals and went on to claim the Class 4A state title. Dylan Fromm has passed for 3,351 yards and 35 touchdowns for the Demons. Marcayll Jones has 1,627 receiving yards and needs only 29 more to break the state record. Ware is making its 12th straight appearance in the second round. 

* Class 4A – Marist (9-2) at St. Piux (10-1) – The Dekalb County rivals played in the regular season with St. Pius winning 17-0 on Sept. 14. The win stopped a three-game victory streak by the War Eagles who lead the all-time series 54-33-18.

* Class 3A – Dawson County (10-1) at Monroe Area (11-0) – This is a matchup worthy of being played later down the line. Instead, these two state powers will clash in round two with the winner moving on to the quarterfinals next week.

* Class 2A – Callaway (9-2) at Hapeville Charter (10-1) – Defending state champion Hapeville faces a major hurdle here in its quest to repeat. Callaway has made it to the quarterfinals each of the last two years and two years ago reached the semifinal round.

* Class A Private – Wesleyan (7-4) and Prince Ave. Christian (10-1) – This will be a rematch of a non-region regular-season matchup. Prince Ave. defeated the Wolves 49-28 on Aug. 31. The Athens school has been to the quarterfinals or beyond every year since 2011. Wesleyan reached the quarterfinals in 2016.

* Class A Public – Charlton County (7-3) at Clinch County (9-1) – This is probably a bad draw for each team. Charlton is arguably better than the No. 11 seed and Clinch is probably better than a No. 6 seed. The Panthers finished second in Region 1 while the Indians were third. Both teams lost to top-ranked and region champion Irwin County while Clinch defeated Charlton 40-14 on Oct. 26. That win tied the all-time series 28-28-1 between the longtime rivals.

Long-range Lookahead

It is still possible that the state championship games won’t be played at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on their scheduled dates of Dec. 7-8.

That’s because the Atlanta United soccer team is still alive in the Major League Soccer playoffs. The United won in the Eastern Conference semifinals and the team is now preparing for the conference finals Nov. 25 and 29.

It is possible that the United could win and host the MLS Cup – the championship match – on Dec. 8.

This summer, the GHSA reserved Dec. 11-12 as backup dates for the football championship games if they have to be postponed by soccer or for any other reason.

Remember, last year a wintry storm postponed the title games at the Benz and they were move to home sites the following weekend.




Kevin Price is a freelance writer for AllOnGeorgia with more than 20 years experience in journalism and communications.

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