A look at what the 2014 playoffs have in store

Photo by Lauren Roberts

Four weeks remain in the high school football season before the playoffs and the postsea- son picture has begun to manifest itself. In the state’s highest classification, Region 1 has been the deepest and most competitive region in the state this year with Colquitt County, Valdosta, Lowndes, Tift County, Camden County and Lee County. Region 1 will face Region 2 in the opening round of the playoffs and that will pin some of the most anticipated opening round games in any classification. Tucker, Lovejoy and Newton will likely be the top 3 seeds heading out of Region 2. That could be bad news for Tucker in its first season in Class AAAAAA.

Another anticipated first-round storyline will be Gwinnett County’s showdown in Class AAAAAA. Dacula, Grayson, Archer and Central Gwinnett would represent Region 8 in the playoffs if the season ended today and Parkview, Brookwood and South Gwinnett would be on the outside looking in. Norcross is the only team in Region 7 without a region loss and North Gwinnett, Collins Hill, Peachtree Ridge and Mill Creek each sit at 3-1. Whichever four teams make into the playoffs out of Region 7 and Region 8 will have a tough in-county matchup waiting for them in the first round. After the first round, it will not get any easier for these two Gwinnett regions. The four winners that make it to the second round will face the winners of the Region 1 vs. Region 2 first-round games. A Gwinnett County team has won the state title the last four years in Georgia’s highest classification and if it is going to be a fifth, a brutal road to the Georgia Dome will have to be conquered.


The last two seasons have seen 12 different schools win state titles. Seven of the schools were first-time state champs and it looks like we’ll see some new faces hoist the hardware this December as well. In Class AAAAAA, Colquitt County is the front-runner for its first state title since 1994. The Packers have made it to the state semifinals the past five years under head coach Rush Propst, but have continued to come up just short. In the last five years of postseason runs, only three of 21 games have been played at home as the Packers have won 13 road playoff games. Colquitt County is undefeated in region play this season and the road to the Georgia Dome could finally run through Moultrie.

In Class AAAAA, Franklin Stephens has Ware County off to a 6-0 start in his first year as the Gators’ head coach. Stephens led Tucker to its first-state title in 2011 and took Lamar County to the Class AA state championship last season. The Gators are the top-ranked team in Class AAAAA this year.

Buford will have little resistance until the playoffs start and should be able to capture the Class AAAA state title after a 15-0 season in 2013 that saw the Wolves break the all-time state scoring record. Jess Simpson is 129-8 in his 10 seasons as Buford’s head coach and two of the losses were forfeits in 2012.

Washington County fell short to Buford in the state championship last year, but the defending Class AAA-champion Wolves are classed into Class AAAA and Washington County’s chances to take home a fourth state title and first since 1997 are looking good. Gwinnett County’s Greater Atlanta Christian is the favorite in Class AA and Class A also has new state title hopefuls.

Marion County knocked region-rival Hawkinsville out of the Class A-Public playoffs in the semifinals before capturing the state title, but the Red Devils are 7-0 under third-year head coach David Daniell and have a team capable of dethroning the Eagles. Marion County beat Hawkinsville 14-10 in the 2013 regular season, but dominated the Red Devils 40-7 in the semi- final matchup. Hawkinsville and Marion County play Friday night in a huge Region 4-A battle that could determine which team gets the No. 1 seed in the playoff bracket. In Class A-Private, Mt. Paran has an impressive roster capable of bringing Cobb County its first football state title since 1967.

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