160 teams have been whittled down to 80 as the GHSA heads into the 2nd round of the high school football playoffs. With the end of Athens Academy’s season last week on the road in Augusta, so ends another season of consulting for the Spartans student webcast. That means I’ve got Friday’s nights (and quite a bit of my weekday evenings) off again … so naturally I’ll take that extra time to pay more attention to high school football elsewhere. What? You thought I was going to do anything else at this time of year?
Let’s look at this week’s matchups, starting with Class A and working our way up.
Bowdon (9-2) at #1 Sav. Christ. (11-0)
Bowdon won’t score nearly as much as they did last week (57) but I believe they’ll keep it respectable before losing
Clinch Co. (8-3) at #3 Lincoln Co. (11-0)
I’d love an upset here just to put the state out of the increasingly whiny Larry Campbell’s misery, but I don’t see it happening unfortunately
#6 Charlton (10-1) at #7 Prince Ave. (11-0)
I expect this to be the end of the road for PACS, the gap between south & north will show up right here
Bremen (8-3) at #5 Marion Co. (11-0)
Take Marion’s relatively balanced offense to win at home
Landmark (9-2) at Calvary Day (10-1)
Landmark took advantage of a late turnover to upset Darlington in Rd 1. I don’t see that happening after a much longer trip to Savannah
Aquinas (8-3) at #4 Wilcox Co. (11-0)
Aquinas has a tough, physical team led by RB/LB Brendan Douglas but other than Lincoln Co I don’t think they’ve seen anything like Wilcox
Wilkinson (9-2) at #8 Seminole (10-1)
Maybe the best matchup in Class A this week, and my upset special in this bracket. I expect QB David Whipple to do just enough to get Wilkinson through to the next round.
Greenville (8-3) at #2 ELCA (10-1)
Normally I’d say ELCA wins this going away, but with as many as four starters questionable for tonight I figure it’s much closer than it would look on paper. I’ll take the favorite but not by a lot
Westminster (7-4) at #9 Dublin (10-1)
I can’t honestly put my finger on why but I’m going with a Westminster upset here. On paper it shouldn’t happen, but I think it will.
#8 Brooks Co. (9-2) at #1 Calhoun (11-0)
Tough luck for a ranked team to run into the Yellow Jackets this early, expect Calhoun’s defense to carry the day
Appling (10-1) at #5 N. Oconee (11-0)
There may come a point where honesty will force me to pick against the Titans, the closest team to me still alive in the post-season … but it’s not this week. The defense will do enough & the offense will put the game away to keep the Region 8 champs unbeaten.
Blessed Trinity (7-4) at #7 Lamar Co. (11-0)
I know BT has lost four games but three of those were to exceptional teams. I know LC is unbeaten but their schedule wasn’t the toughest. I like the upset here with former Roswell coach (state champ ’06) Tim McFarlin finding a way to get it done.
Jefferson Co. (8-3) at #1 Buford (11-0)
Hey JeffCo, you just won a first round playoff game on the road at Putnam Co, what’s your reward? A trip to Buford where the Wolves haven’t lost since 2006, a streak of 41 traight home wins. That’ll be 42 after tonight, with six BCS D1 commitments leading the way in a blowout
Cook (7-4) at #6 Elbert County (10-1)
The Hornets know how to win on the road (10x since 2000) and the Granite Bowl hasn’t seen a playoff game since 2002. Toughest prediction in the bracket for me, I’ll go with Elbert holding on for a narrow win.
Adairsville (10-1) at #3 Fitzgerald (10-1)
The Tigers have had a great year to be proud of but I see nothing that leads me to believe they can hang with Fitzgerald team that’s won ten straight since losing the season opener to AAAAA Tift County.
Laney (9-2) at #4 Carver-Col. (10-1)
I’ll go with the favorites but not quite by the 21 point spread predicted by the Maxwell ratings
Woodward (8-3) at #4 Burke Co. (10-1)
I expect Burke to run the ball too well to lose this game at home
M. Persons (9-2) at #5 Allatoona (11-0)
Cobb County teams went 9-0 in the first round. I see a loss coming here.
Monroe (6-5) at #6 Gainesville (10-1)
Monroe shocked Baldwin in the first round with 12 seconds left. I expect this to be over before halftime as Gainesville rolls
Troup (9-2) at #1 Sandy Creek (11-0
Someone may threaten Sandy Creek’s 40 game winning streak before the playoffs are over but it won’t happen this week
Stockbridge (9-2) at #3 Carrollton (10-1)
I expect the Lions defense to hold Stockbridge in check, but I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if the game was closer than the 11 point spread
Ridgeland (7-4) at #8 Peach Co. (10-1)
Ridgeland jumped in front of Monroe Area early (28-0) and held on for a 35-21 win. I don’t see them having the same first half success against Peach and that will be their undoing
Stephens County (9-2) at #7 Cairo (9-2)
I think the -10 margin for the Syrupmakers sounds about right. They’re probably a TD better and the home field advantage makes up the rest
Henry County (7-4) at #2 St. Pius (11-0)
St. Pius will likely run, run, and run some more. They’ll do it well enough to win this one by wearing the Warhawks down in the end
#8 E. Paulding (10-1) at #6 Northgate (11-0)
Tough call in this matchup of teams that seem pretty evenly matched. I don’t like the narrow win (10-6) for EPHS last week but I like them just a little better in this game than I like Northgate.
#7 W. Robins (9-2) at #9 Chattahoochee (10-1)
The ‘Hooch scored 66 last week, the Demons scored 42, so a shootout isn’t hard to imagine here. I’ll take the defending state champions to survive at home
Ware County (9-2) at Heritage (10-1)
Both teams had a tough time in the opening round but Ware hung on while Heritage very possibly should have lost outright if not for a controversial call. I’ll take Ware’s post-season experience (5th straight trip to at least the 2nd round) for the minor upset
Kell (9-2) at #5 Lovejoy (11-0)
Kell went on the road and stunned Marist in the first round, I think they make it two upsets in a row tonight in spite of the highly regarded Lovejoy defense
Griffin (9-2) at #1 Tucker (11-0)
Tucker’s top two RB’s average a TD every four touches. The Bears have narrowly survived two straight elimination games but they run out of magic tonight
TCC (7-4) at Flowery Branch (10-1)
The Branch won on a hail mary on the game’s final play, TCC went to double OT to win their playoff opener. I think QB Kanler Coke does enough to the Falcons to win at home & advance
#10 Clarke Central (10-1) at #2 Northside (11-0)
Very hard to pick against a local team with a RB as good as Q.Watson but I’ve seen first hand in years past how tough it can be to play NS-WR. I’m afraid that the Gladiators season will end tonight in a tough game
Tri-Cities (9-2) at Pope (10-1)
I’ll take the Greyhounds to win at home
Marietta (6-5) at #1 Camden Co. (11-0)
Camden has been held under 55 points only once this season. I expect them to get close to 50 tonight in a rout
#10 Colquitt (9-2) at #7 N. Gwinnett (10-1)
The Packers go on the road and will win tonight with defense
Lowndes (8-3) at Grayson (11-0)
When they last met in ’08, Grayson shocked the unbeaten defending state champs. Tonight the Rams are the favorite & I believe they’ll live up to that status
W. Forsyth (10-1) at #4 Hillgrove (11-0)
A 5th year program visits a 6th year program in a matchup of promising newcomers. I don’t think the extra year makes the difference tonight, I just think Hillgrove is the better team.
Lassiter (8-3) at #6 McEachern (10-1)
Lassiter blocked a PAT in overtime to escape round one. I don’t see this one staying close enough for similar late heroics
Brookwood (8-3) at #3 M.L. King (11-0)
Even with MLK QB Jonquel Dawson questionable with a leg injury, I think last week’s OT win over P’tree Ridge is as far as this edition of the Broncos gets
Newnan (6-5) at Dacula (8-3)
Newnan went to Valdosta & eliminated the Wildcats in the opening round, Dacula beat Norcross as an underdog on their own field. Even if Valdosta isn’t quite the caliber of some of their legendary teams, I like that win for Newnan & suspect they’ll find a way to do it again this week. I don’t know how, but I think they’ll find a way.
South Cobb (8-3) at #5 Walton (11-0)
Last week SC came from behind to win a playoff game for the first time since 1959. Walton will make them wait until at least next year to get another one