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Monday, November 17, 2014


Nine ranked teams fall in first round  

The first round of the state football playoffs claimed two undefeated teams and seven others ranked in the Top 10 last week, but those casualties were mild compared to what is likely in store for round two.


There are 10 games between top 10 teams on Friday, four involving teams that are No. 1.


Colquitt County, No. 1 in Class AAAAAA, gets a visit from No. 4 Dacula. Other No. 1 teams to be tested at home will be Ware County in AAAAA (from No. 7 Mays), Buford in AAAA (from No. 9 Mary Persons) and Greater Atlanta Christian in AA (from No. 10 Lamar County).


The Colquitt County-Dacula game is one of three between top-five teams. The others are No. 2 Coffee at No. 4 Allatoona in AAAAA and No. 4 Marist at No. 2 Griffin in AAAA.


The other games between Top 10 teams are No. 2 Grayson at No. 9 Tucker in AAAAAA, No. 9 Adairsville at No. 3 Blessed Trinity in AAA, No. 6 Westminster at No. 7 Central of Carrollton in AAA and No. 3 Lovett at No. 6 Macon County in AA.


"Yes sir, it definitely is a tough draw," Macon County coach Larry Harold said. "Haven't been able to sleep or enjoy the win against Dublin at all. ... We will have our hands full, but I do believe playing at home will definitely help our players having a big crowd cheering them on."


The opening round took its toll on nine Top 10 teams, two that entered unbeaten. Lanier and Peach County lost in the first roundFriday after 10-0 regular seasons.


That is not uncommon. A 10-0 team has lost in the first round 27 times since 1996, when the playoffs were expanded to 32 teams in each class.


Sequoyah, which beat fifth-ranked Lanier in a AAAAA game, had also beaten a 10-0 Tucker team in 2001. In AAA, Appling County ended fourth-ranked Peach County's season at 10-1.


Other ranked teams that didn't make it are No. 3 Valdosta, No. 5 North Gwinnett and No. 8 Mill Creek in AAAAAA, No. 10 Whitewater in AAAA, No. 10 Westside-Macon in AAA, and No. 7 Darlington and No. 9 Thomasville in AA.


The Class A playoffs, which consist of public and private divisions, begin this week with their 16-team draws. All classes will be in the quarterfinals next week in the march to the state finals Dec 12-13 at the Georgia Dome.

Second-Round Preview: Class AAAAAA

Etowah at Westlake

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Westlake Stadium, College Park

Records, rankings: Etowah is 9-2, the No. 2 seed from Region 5-AAAAAA and unranked; Westlake is 9-1, the No. 1 seed from 3-AAAAAA and No. 10.

Last meeting: This is the teams' first meeting.

Three things to know: 1. Both teams won their first playoff games since 2006 last week. Etowah, which opened in 1977, has never made the quarterfinals. Westlake, opened in 1988, has made the quarterfinals once, in 1999, but not advanced further. 2. Etowah RB Tyray Devezin rushed for 204 yards on 25 carries in the first round in a 48-22 win against South Forsyth. Devezin has 1,126 yards rushing unofficially on the season. Devezin's older brother, senior Raishod Devezin, rushed for 1,000 yards through seven games but suffered a season-ending injury, opening the door for Tyray, a sophomore, to become the feature back. Robbie Knox threw for 178 yards last week, and Etowah held South Forsyth's 1,000-yard rusher Tyler LaFlamme to less than 50 yards. 3. Westlake has a balanced offense but relied on the run in a 41-13 victory over North Paulding. Junior Justin Broughton rushed for 154 yards. QB Dakota Rocker is 118-of-203 passing for 1,581 yards and 19 touchdowns. Westlake has allowed more than 14 points in a game only once, in a 53-27 victory over South Cobb.

Maxwell Ratings' projection: Westlake by 7

Winner plays: Central Gwinnett/Newton winner


Central Gwinnett at Newton

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sharp Stadium, Covington

Records, rankings: Central Gwinnett is 7-4, the No. 4 seed from Region 8-AAAAAA and unranked; Newton is 6-3, the No. 3 seed from 2-AAAAAA and unranked.

Last meeting: Newton won 18-6 in 2001.

Three things to know: 1. Newton had not won a state-playoff game in history until beating Valdosta 27-14 last week. Newton's only postseason victories in a history that dates to the 1940s had been two region playoff wins in 1987. One of those, coincidentally, was against Central Gwinnett. Central last won a playoff game in 2005. 2. Central Gwinnett's 12-9 victory over fifth-ranked North Gwinnett last week was made more remarkable by the fact that Central QB Eric Forrest (2,589 yards passing) did not play. Backup QB Nick Partlow, a sophomore, scored on a 1-yard sneak on fourth down in the fourth quarter for a 12-9 lead that stood up. Central normally gets nearly 80 percent of its offense through the air. Central held North to 149 yards in total offense. 3. Newton forced seven turnovers and held Valdosta to a reported 112 yards in total offense last week. QB Romario Johnson was 21-of-33 passing for 189 yards and has passed for 2,358 yards and 26 touchdowns on the season in only nine games. Two of Newton's games were canceled because of bad weather. Johnson also is Newton's leading rusher with 441 yards.

Maxwell Ratings' projection: Central Gwinnett by 4

Winner plays: Etowah/Westlake winner


Roswell at Hillgrove

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Cobb Energy Hillgrove Stadium, Powder Springs

Records, rankings: Roswell is 8-3, the No. 3 seed from Region 5-AAAAAA and unranked; Hillgrove is 8-3, the No. 1 seed from 4-AAAAAA and unranked.

Last meeting: This is the teams' first meeting.

Three things to know: 1. Roswell is back in the playoffs for the first time since 2010 after suffering three consecutive losing seasons. The Hornets are trying to make the quarterfinals for the first time since 2007. Hillgrove made the quarters in 2010 and 2013, but no further. Hillgrove opened in 2006, the year of Roswell's Class AAAAA championship. 2. Hillgrove outscored Douglas County 33-0 in the third quarter of a 58-13 victory. Sonny Harris rushed for 107 yards, giving him 1,232 for the season. Matthew Wilson had four TD passes. 3. Roswell sophomore RB Sheldon Evans rushed for 199 yards and three touchdowns on 32 carries in the 36-13 victory over Lambert. Evans has 1,695 yards rushing on the season. Roswell WR Mechane Slade, returning from an injury, had 57 yards receiving on three catches. He has 858 yards receiving on the season and is Roswell's most dangerous player when healthy.

Maxwell Ratings' projection: Hillgrove by 7

Winner plays: Lee County/Archer winner


Lee County at Archer

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Archer Community Stadium, Lawrenceville

Records, rankings: Lee County is 8-2, the No. 3 seed from Region 1-AAAAAA and No. 6; Archer is 8-3, the No. 1 seed from 8-AAAAAA and unranked.

Last meeting: This is the teams' first meeting.

Three things to know: 1. Neither school has been past the second round. Archer opened in 2009 and made the playoffs for the first time last season and finished 11-1. Lee County started football in 1971 and didn't make the playoffs until 1997, advance a round until 1999 or win a region title until 2005. Lee County won Region 1-AAAAA last season. This is Lee's first playoff appearance in the highest classification. 2. Lee County QB Garet Morrell, Region 1's passing-yardage leader, was 19-of-30 for 284 yards in the 44-6 victory over Lovejoy. That gave him 2,319 yards on the season in just 10 games. He also threw TD passes to four receivers. 3. Archer QB Gabe Tiller was 18-of-26 passing for 289 yards and two touchdowns in the 38-22 victory over Norcross. Tiller has thrown for 2,241 yards on the season. Archer's leading rusher is Randy Nails with 830 yards, but he had six receptions for 173 yards last week.

Maxwell Ratings' projection: Lee County by 3

Winner plays: Roswell/Hillgrove winner


McEachern at Alpharetta

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Raider Stadium, Alpharetta

Records, rankings: McEachern is 8-3, the No. 2 seed from Region 4-AAAAAA and unranked; Alpharetta is 10-1, the No. 1 seed from 6-AAAAAA and unranked.

Last meeting: This is the teams' first meeting.

Three things to know: 1. Alpharetta opened in 2004, won its first region title in 2011, won its first playoff game in 2013 and attained its first 10-win season in 2014. McEachern is trying to make the quarterfinals for the second straight season. McEachern compiled a record of 38-8 from 2009 to 2012 without getting out of the second round before breaking through in 2013 with three straight road playoff wins. 2. McEachern beat East Coweta 23-3 last week but led only 7-3 in the fourth quarter before pulling away with help from a TD punt return by Tyler Smith and a safety from a blocked punt. McEachern has become a passing team this season after the season-ending injury to RB Taj Griffin. Bailey Hockman has thrown 31 touchdown passes, 14 each to Smith and T.J. Rahming. 3. Austin King passed for 302 yards in the 21-18 victory over Cherokee. King, who is committed to N.C. State, is 145-of-256 passing for 2,116 yards and 18 touchdowns on the season. Alpharetta has another Division I recruit in DL Andrew Butcher, who has committed to Tennessee.

Maxwell Ratings' projection: McEachern by 10

Winner plays: Grayson/Tucker winner


Grayson at Tucker

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, James R. Hallford Stadium, Clarkston

Records, rankings: Grayson is 10-1, the No. 3 seed from Region 8-AAAAAA and No. 2; Tucker is 9-2, the No. 1 seed from 2-AAAAAA and No. 9.

Last meeting: This is the teams' first meeting.

Three things to know: 1. Tucker has made the quarterfinals six of the past seven seasons, winning the title in 2008 and 2011, but those feats were accomplished in the second-highest classification. Tucker is trying to do as Lovejoy did in 2011-12 - make the finals back-to-back after moving to the highest class. Grayson has 10 wins for the seventh time in eight seasons after the 4-6 anomaly of 2013. 2. Grayson's defense was the difference in the 24-6 victory over Mill Creek, which was held to 240 yards in total offense and was only 13-of-33 passing. Mill Creek had been averaging 41.6 points per game against one of the toughest schedules in AAAAAA. On offense, Grayson RB Cameryn Brent has rushed for 1,177 yards, and QB Chase Brice is 126-for-202 passing for 1,707 yards and 18 touchdowns. 3. Tucker got 160 yards rushing from Delvin Weems (committed to Marshall) and 144 rushing and receiving from Elijah Sullivan (Auburn) in its 31-29 victory over Tift County. Tift missed an extra point and two-point attempt in the second half, but Tucker was inside Tift's 10-yard line when the game was over after a long fake-punt play. Tucker averaged 309.4 yards rushing and 86.3 passing during the regular season.

Maxwell Ratings' projection: Grayson by 4

Winner plays: McEachern/Alpharetta winner


Hughes at Milton

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Eagles' Nest, Milton

Records, rankings: Hughes is 9-2, the No. 2 seed from Region 3-AAAAAA and unranked; Milton is 10-1, the No. 1 seed from 5-AAAAAA and No. 7.

Last meeting: This is the teams' first meeting.

Three things to know: 1. Milton has made the playoffs five of the past six seasons but won its first playoff game since 1953 last week and first region title since 1952 the week before. Hughes opened in 2009. The Panthers have advanced one round each of the past two seasons but never made a quarterfinal. 2. Hughes sophomore RB Demetrius Whitmore rushed for 160 yards on 26 carries and scored four touchdowns in the 42-28 victory over North Cobb. Hughes won despite throwing two interceptions that were returned for touchdowns. Whitmore had rushed for only 248 yards in Hughes' first eight games but is averaging 127 in the past three. Hughes' quarterback, Isaiah Green, also is a sophomore. He has 1,596 yards passing on the season. 3. Milton held Northview to 84 yards in total offense entering the fourth quarter of a game that Milton won 37-0. Milton allowed only 74.1 yards rushing per game in the regular season. Micco Brisker rushed for 113 yards against Northview, giving him 1,033 for the season. Austin McLeod was 13-of-16 passing for 148 yards and three touchdowns.

Maxwell Ratings' projection: Milton by 7

Winner plays: Dacula/Colquitt County winner


Dacula at Colquitt County

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Mack Tharpe Memorial Stadium, Moultrie

Records, rankings: Dacula is 10-1, the No. 2 seed from Region 8-AAAAAA and No. 4; Colquitt County is 11-0, the No. 1 seed from 1-AAAAAA and No. 1.

Last meeting: Colquitt County won 42-17 in the 2013 Class AAAAAA quarterfinals.

Three things to know: 1. Colquitt County holds the state record for consecutive state semifinal appearances with five (2009-13), although this is the first time that the Packers have chased it as a region champion and No. 1-ranked team. Dacula is trying to make the quarterfinals for the fourth time in 10 seasons. The Falcons made it in 2005, 2011 and 2013. In the 2013 quarterfinal between these teams, Colquitt took a 21-0 lead in less than 10 minutes with two TD passes and one interception return for a score. 2. Colquitt County led 35-0 in the first quarter of its 62-12 victory over Rockdale County. Sihiem King rushed for 162 yards and scored five touchdowns, giving him 1,512 and 27 on the season. Chance Parrish has thrown for 2,103 yards. 3. Dacula averages 269.9 yards rushing per game and beat that with 300 in its 17-14 victory over Peachtree Ridge last week. Giovanni Lugo scored the winning touchdown on an 18-yard run with 7:30 left in the third quarter. Two-way starter Bijan Sirleaf rushed for 59 yards and had two sacks.

Maxwell Ratings' projection: Colquitt County by 22

Winner plays: Hughes/Milton winner


Coming Tuesday: Class AAAAA 


Region Standings: Class AAAAAA




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Top 10 but gone

Nine top-10 teams lost in the first round last week, and at least 10 more will be gone this week. That's how many games match Top 10 teams in the second round in classes AAAAAA through AA. Below are the top-10 teams already out and the games between top-10 teams this week:


First round


No. 3 Valdosta

No. 5 North Gwinnett

No. 8 Mill Creek


No. 5 Lanier

Class AAAA

No. 10 Whitewater

Class AAA

No. 4 Peach County

No. 10 Westside (Macon)

Class AA

No. 7 Darlington

No. 9 Thomasville


Second round


No. 2 Grayson at No. 9 Tucker

No. 4 Dacula at No. 1 Colquitt County


No. 7 Mays at No. 1 Ware Co.

No. 2 Coffee at No. 4 Allatoona

Class AAAA

No. 4 Marist at No. 2 Griffin

No. 9 Mary Persons at No. 1 Buford

Class AAA

No. 9 Adairsville at No. 3 Blessed Trinity

No. 6 Westminster at No. 7 Central (Carrollton)

Class AA

No. 3 Lovett at No. 6 Macon County

No. 10 Lamar County at No. 1 GAC


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Sequoyah and Appling County scored two of the biggest upsets of the first round of the state playoffs, each beating a 10-0 team. Sequoyah beat Lanier 24-21, and Appling County beat Peach County 14-7. Sequoyah became only the second school since 1996, when the playoffs expanded to 32 teams in each class, to have two victories over 10-0 teams. The Chiefs also beat 10-0 Tucker 17-0 in 2001. What is the other school that has done it? Hint: This school beat Lassiter in 2012 and McEachern in 2009. (Answer Tuesday)


Answer to Friday's question: Nick Chubb of Cedartown was Georgia's leading rusher in 2013 with 2,690 yards. He also scored 41 rushing touchdowns.

Four Questions Presented By FieldTurf

GHSF Daily asked Georgia head coaches to answer these four questions. We'll report from a different head coach each day.


Bill Ballard, White County

1. Who is/was the most influential person in your coaching career? "I was fortunate to be around some great coaches who were excellent examples for my teammates and me during the time I played football. In youth ball, if you got a cut on your hand, Jack Moore would say, 'Give me some of that blood' and rub it on his shirt and so I was fine. He made me love the game. In high school, we had three former head coaches on staff - Terry Sparks, Joe Windham and George B. Maloof, who all had their own BIG personalities that meshed. We had a ball in college at Furman. Bobby Johnson, Tommy Marshall and Steve Wilson had the greatest impact, as football was their calling and they lived it. They treated us like family."


2. Who is the best Georgia player you ever faced? "As a coach, Sean McVay of Marist, 2003. He had full command of the option game. He was a winner." [McVay is now the offensive coordinator of the Washington Redskins.]


3. What is the best team you ever faced as a coach? "In 1996 while coaching at Lakeside, we beat Dougherty in the Georgia Dome. Coach Ed Pilcher said that was the best team bar classification. His Thomas County team was the best, and they beat us in the finals bad. They had Leonard Guyton at quarterback, Joe Burns at running back, Robert Presley, Eugene Brooks and Raytorrie Newkirk, just to name a few. They were a well-oiled, triple-option machine."


4. If you were Gary Phillips, the new head of the GHSA, what would be the first rule that you would try to change? "I think many people in Georgia high schools would like to see Mr. Phillips and the reclassification committee come up with some answers to deal with the growing complexities of our state enrollment. While this is a monumental task and there is no way to make everyone happy, there are many issues to deal with here, economic issues like travel expenses and gate receipts as costs go up and gates go down. We need local games. We also have the question of public, private and city schools that prove to be inequitable in certain classifications as attendance zones and the percentages of students coming from outside the attendance zones are not consistent among them. In addition, school graduation rates play into the classification in which a school is placed. A school that has a 95 percent graduation rate as compared to a school that has a 75 percent graduation rate of comparable size is potentially placed in a higher classification because they are graduating more students. This action goes against the stop-the-drop campaign the GHSA is promoting. Although this is a daunting task and I do not pretend to have the answers, I do have a great deal of respect and admiration for the people that run athletics in this state. On the bright side, there are a great number of very experienced individuals on these GHSA committees, and I would push them for some fresh ideas in this area."


FieldTurf is the official artificial turf of the GHSA. It is the top choice for elite college programs and high schools across North America. Football is a rough sport, and FieldTurf has made tremendous strides in improving the safety of its surfaces without compromising quality. Contact Josh Keown, regional sales manager, or 404-556-8265




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Playoff Scores, Pairings


First round

Etowah 48, South Forsyth 22

Westlake 41, North Paulding 13

Newton 27, Valdosta 14

Cent. Gwinnett 12, North Gwinnett 9

Roswell 36, Lambert 13

Hillgrove 58, Douglas County 13

Lee County 44, Lovejoy 6

Archer 38, Norcross 22

McEachern 23, East Coweta 3

Alpharetta 21, Cherokee 18

Grayson 24, Mill Creek 6

Tucker 31, Tift County 29

Hughes 42, North Cobb 28

Milton 37, Northview 0

Dacula 17, Peachtree Ridge 14

Colquitt County 62, Rockdale Co. 12


Second round

Etowah at Westlake

Central Gwinnett at Newton

Roswell at Hillgrove

Lee County at Archer

McEachern at Alpharetta

Grayson at Tucker

Hughes at Milton

Dacula at Colquitt County



First round

Mays 26, South Paulding 19

Ware County 45, Starr's Mill 10

Jones Co. 13, Carver, Columbus 12

Kell 31, Winder-Barrow 7

Stephenson 41, Alexander 27

Stockbridge 36, Brunswick 6

Houston County 55, LaGrange 34

Sequoyah 24, Lanier 21

Glynn Academy 35, Drew 34

Creekside 44, New Manchester 27

Dalton 23, Salem 6

Northside, W.R. 48, Northside, Col. 0

Coffee 14, Mundy's Mill 6

Allatoona 35, Carver, Atlanta 7

Gainesville 42, Creekview 37

Harris County 33, Warner Robins 31


Second round

Mays at Ware County

Jones County at Kell

Stephenson at Stockbridge

Sequoyah at Houston County

Glynn Academy at Creekside

Dalton at Northside, Warner Robins

Coffee at Allatoona

Gainesville at Harris County


Class AAAA

First round

Sandy Creek 23, Columbia 14

Wayne County 14, Eagle's Landing 6

Baldwin 17, Worth County 7

Cartersville 54, White County 0

Marist 30, Whitewater 13

Griffin 46, Liberty County 12

Mary Persons 14, Westover 0

Buford 63, Southeast Whitfield 0

Eastside 35, Thomson 34

St. Pius 24, Fayette County 0

Stephens County 42, Pickens 14

West Laurens 23, Bainbridge 17

Burke County 35, Locust Grove 15

Woodward Academy 55, Lithonia 0

North Oconee 49, Gilmer 6

Cairo 24, Veterans 7


Second round

Sandy Creek at Wayne County

Baldwin at Cartersville

Marist at Griffin

Mary Persons at Buford

Eastside at St. Pius

Stephens County at West Laurens

Burke Co. at Woodward Academy

North Oconee at Cairo


Class AAA

First round

Callaway 35, Ringgold 7

Washington Co. 73, Jackson, Atl. 28

Pierce County 49, Jackson 21

Oconee County 42, West Hall 38

Adairsville 52, Cedartown 14

Blessed Trinity 48, Hephzibah 13

Dodge Co. 14, Westside, Macon 3

Jefferson 38, Franklin County 7

Cedar Grove 45, Westside, Aug. 7

Calhoun 43, Rockmart 14

Elbert County 28, Lumpkin County 18

Appling County 14, Peach County 7

Westminster 35, Laney 12

Central, Carrollton 42, Sonoraville 14

Hart County 42, East Hall 14

Cook 42, Central, Macon 14


Second round

Callaway at Washington County

Oconee County at Pierce County

Adairsville at Blessed Trinity

Dodge County at Jefferson

Cedar Grove at Calhoun

Appling County at Elbert County

Westminster at Central, Carrollton

Hart County at Cook


Class AA

First round

Heard County 28, Wesleyan 21

Screven County 20, Monticello 14

Brooks County 24, Bacon County 17

Washington-Wilkes 21, Darlington 6

Lovett 56, Bremen 21

Macon County 21, Dublin 7

Benedictine 35, Thomasville 0

Rabun County 24, Chattooga 20

Lamar County 28, Swainsboro 14

GAC 41, Chattahoochee County 13

Coosa 14, Greene County 7

Vidalia 56, Berrien 35

Jefferson Co. 52, Bleckley Co. 37

Pace Academy 49, Bowdon 28

Model 50, Union County 36

Fitzgerald 53, Bryan County 28


Second round

Heard County at Screven County

Washington-Wilkes at Brooks County

Lovett at Macon County

Benedictine at Rabun County

Lamar County at GAC

Coosa at Vidalia

Pace Academy at Jefferson County

Model at Fitzgerald


Class A (public)

First round

Greenville at Marion County

ECI at Mount Zion, Carroll

Lincoln County at Charlton County

Jenkins County at Hawkinsville

Calhoun County at Mitchell County

Clinch County at Commerce

Dooly County at Claxton

Atkinson County at Irwin County


Class A (private)

First round

Christian Heritage at Calvary Day

Mount Pisgah at Landmark Christian

Athens Christian at ELCA

First Presbyterian at Prince Avenue

Stratford Academy at Mount Paran

Pacelli at Savannah Christian

Pinecrest Academy at Tattnall Square

St. Francis at Aquinas