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Column: Let’s look at round 2 and then move on to round 3 in state football playoffs

GHSA playoffs get all the more interesting here on Thanksgiving weekend.

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

We are now through two rounds in the Georgia High School School Association state playoffs.

It has been a good ride so far, and the next three weeks should be exciting for sure.

When you play on Thanksgiving weekend, you know you’re onto something. In each of the eight state tournaments – remember Class A has public school and private school playoffs – only eight teams are left in the brackets for a total of 64 schools playing this week in the quarterfinal round.

After this weekend, each tournament will be down to the final four and only 32 teams will remain in the running for the coveted state championships.

All that said, let’s look back on round two and then look ahead to this week and the quarterfinal games.

Second-Round Notes

* It’s not surprising that three Region 1 teams and three Gwinnett County teams are among the final eight in Class 7A as the Southwest Georgia region and Gwinnett have dominated the state’s largest class for a long time now.

The last two champions in Class 7A were North Gwinnett last season and Grayson in 2016. Both, of course, are Gwinnett schools.

When Georgia’s largest class was 6A, Colquitt County won the state title in 2014 and 2015 and Norcross won it in 2012 and 2013. Colquitt, of course, plays out of Region 1 and Norcross is a Gwinnett school.

And when 5A was the largest class in the state, you have to go back to 2006 when Peachtree Ridge and Roswell tied for the state title to find a year when a Region 1 team or a Gwinnett team didn’t claim the state title in the state’s largest class.

Lowndes won in 2007 and Camden won in 2008 and 2009, both play out of Region 1 now. After that, it was Brookwood in 2010 and Grayson in 2011 from Gwinnett.

This year, Colquitt, Lowndes and Tift County are in the quarterfinals from Region 1 along with North Gwinnett, Grayson and Archer from Gwinnett County.

The other two teams making up the final eight are Hillgrove (Cobb County) and Milton (Fulton County).

* In Class 6A, Region 1 teams make up half the field in the quarterfinals as defending champion Lee County, Valdosta, Northside-Warner Robins and Coffee are all in the Elite 8 with a chance to win and face off against each other in the semifinals.

That would assure the region another state champion. Last year, Lee beat Coffee in the title game, and Valdosta won the crown in 2016.

* Also in regards to Region 1, those teams all defeated teams from Region 2 last week which were Glynn Academy, Effingham, Richmond Hill and Bradwell Institute.

Glynn was the only team to score an offensive touchdown in those four games as the Red Terrors fell to Valdosta 35-24 at home.

Northside defeated Bradwell 35-0, Lee blanked Effingham 54-0 and Coffee knocked off Richmond Hill 20-7. The lone score by Richmond Hill came on a fumble return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

* The Southeast Georgia teams that AllOnGeorgia has followed all season had an overall disappointing week in the second round.

In addition to the teams mentioned above, Wayne County, Ware County, Liberty County and Charlton County all were eliminated from the playoffs last week.

Pierce County, which is 12-0, was the only team to advance as the Bears rolled to a 45-0 win last Friday over Jackson. They will play at home versus also unbeaten Monroe Area this Friday night.

Wayne got beat a second straight year in the Class 5A second round after winning a second straight Region 2 crown. Ware also lost in the second round for the second straight time, and its 35-0 loss at Warner Robins represented the first time since 2009 that a Franklin Stephens-coached team has been blanked on the scoreboard.


Liberty was looking to make a third consecutive trip to the quarterfinals before losing to last year’s state runner-up Peach County. The Panthers were eliminated in the quarterfinals last year by eventual state champion Calhoun and were beaten in the quarterfinals in 2016 by state finalist Greater Atlanta Christian.

Also, Charlton County was looking to make a second straight appearance in the quarterfinals, but lost its second-round game to region rival Clinch County.

* Also worth noting from last week is that Warner Robins receiver Marcayll Jones broke the state’s single-season record for receiving yards in the team’s win over Ware. He now has 1,661 yards. The old record was 1,655 yards by Demarco Robinson from M.L. King in 2010.

Quarterfinals Lookahead

* In Class 7A, the game to watch is Colquitt County hosting North Gwinnett. This is a rematch from last year’s state title game which the Bulldogs won on their home field on a field goal on the final play of the game.

* In Class 6A, the Creekview at Lee County game is a matchup between the top two teams in the classification rankings as Lee is No. 1 and Creekview is No. 2. They are also the only two unbeaten teams still in the playoffs in this class.

* In Class 5A, the Rome at Dutchdown contest pits the top offense against the top defense in the class. The Wolves average 52.3 points a game while Dutchdown is allowing only 5.3 points per game. So what gives here?

* In Class 4A, Mary Persons hosting Marist features a really good offense versus a pretty stout defense. Mary Persons is scoring just over 49 points a game while Marist is allowing just under 11 points a game.

Marist is in the quarterfinals for the sixth time in seven years, but it has not been beyond this round since the 2013 season. With a win, Mary Persons can make a third straight trip to the semifinals where its previous two seasons came to an end.

* In Class 3A, Cedar Grove at Benedictine is a matchup between teams that are no strangers to deep runs in the playoffs. This will be BC’s sixth straight game in the quarterfinals, but the first for the Cadets in this class as they competed in Class AA the previous six years. Cedar Grove is in the quarterfinal round a fourth straight time, and it won the previous three times.

*In Class AA, the Fitzgerald at Rabun County game pits teams that have lost in the last three state title games. Rabun lost to Hapeville Charter last year in the final while Fitzgerald fell in the championship contest the two previous seasons.

In Class A public, Greene County at Pelham pits the No. 4 seed (Pelham) against the No. 5 seed (Greene) as the seeds held up in this section of the bracket. Actually, the only team not in the top eight seeds in the final eight is Commerce which is the No. 9 seed. It defeated No. 8 Mitchell County last week.

Greene has not been beyond the quarterfinal round since 2005 while Pelham is playing a 13th game for the first time since the 1982 season.

*In Class A private, Calvary Day at Athens Academy matches the No. 8 seed (Calvary) against the top seed (Athens) as all top eight seeds are still alive. Athens Academy is 11-0 while Calvary is 10-1, having lost only 24-21 to No. 2 seed Savannah Christian during the regular season.

Last year, the Spartans got beat by Eagle’s Landing Christian in the finals while Calvary lost to the Chargers in the quarterfinal round.

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

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