GHSA Football Second Round Previews by Class

The Drive to the GHSA State Title continues this weekend in what is sure to be thrilling Friday night Sweet 16 action. Score Atlanta will be live from West Forsyth High School on Friday night as the Wolverines host North Gwinnett in one of the most anticipated playoff matchups in the state. That game will be broadcasted on PeachtreeTV and updates from around the state will be provided to keep fans and viewers up to speed on all the state playoff developments.

Class 7A

All eight No. 1 seeds will host in the second-round and every team that was ranked heading into the playoffs is still alive—resulting in a loaded eight-game slate featuring some of the state’s most successful programs and hottest teams. There are three historic first-ever matchups that will be taking place as well. This includes No. 4 Lowndes at No. 8 North Cobb, Denmark at No. 6 Collins Hill and Harrison at No. 1 Grayson. The top-ranked Rams join Norcross, Colquitt County and Milton as the four programs that still have undefeated records heading into kickoff. Norcross will be hosting Roswell in what marks the first meeting between the programs since 2011. Roswell leads the all-time series with the Blue Devils 10-7, but has dropped five-straight to Norcross. No. 2 ranked Colquitt County will host Walton. These two teams met for the first time in the second round of the 2017 state playoffs and Colquitt County emerged with a 27-21 win. Colquitt County is 8-0 heading into kickoff and has posted a 36-point average margin of victory this year. Denmark scored its first-ever playoff win last week in a 63-0 victory over Discovery. Now the Danes will visit Collins Hill, which picked up its first playoff victory since 2015 last week over Alpharetta (42-7). No. 10 Archer will visit No. 7 Milton in their first meeting since 2018. Milton posted a 21-19 win in that matchup and went on to claim its first-ever state title. No. 4 Lowndes will visit No. 8 North Cobb in another top-10 showdown. This will be the first-ever meeting between the two teams. Parkview visits No. 5 East Coweta in what will be the first time in series history that the Panthers are not in the rankings when facing the Indians. Parkview holds a 4-1 all-time edge in the season and this will be their first clash since 2002. Finally, North Gwinnett will take a trip to West Forsyth. North Gwinnett met with the Wolverines for the first time in the second-round of the 2018 state playoffs and advanced with a 41-7 win.

Class 6A

Similar to Class 7A, all eight top seeds will be hosting in the second round and all of the ranked teams heading into the playoffs remain in this star powered field. Six of the eight games will be historic first-ever meetings. The two matchups that are not first-time clashes will be Rome at No. 5 River Ridge and No. 8 Dacula at No. 4 Allatoona. River Ridge and Allatoona are the only teams left in the classification with undefeated records. Rome is 2-0 all-time against River Ridge—which scored its first playoff win in program history last week (35-34 Kennesaw Mountain). Dacula and Allatoona have split their previous two matchups and this will be the third-straight time that the programs are meeting in the second round. No. 6 Valdosta will visit Evans—which carries a six-game winning streak into kickoff. Sprayberry will visit No. 10 Carrollton and Cambridge will travel to No. 2 Buford in another first-time matchup. At the bottom left of the bracket, No. 7 Hughes will make a five-hour trip to take on Glynn Academy. Brunswick at No. 1 Lee County and No. 9 Richmond Hill at No. 3 Westlake will also meet for the first time.

Class 5A

Every home team won in the first round and now there will be eight incredibly intriguing matchups taking place in Class 5A. This includes five first-time matchups: No. 3 Ware County at Creekside, No. 7 Calhoun at No. 9 Clarke Central, No. 5 Coffee at No. 6 Starr’s Mill, Woodward at No. 2 Warner Robins and Eastside at New Manchester. As for the other three showdowns, No. 4 Cartersville will visit No. 8 St. Pius. The teams are 1-1 in the all-time series and this wil be the first meeting since 2013. Decatur will travel to No. 1 ranked Blessed Trinity. The Titans are 5-3 all-time against Decatur, have posted a 34.6 average margin of victory this season and are the three-time defending Class 4A champions. Finally, Griffin will visit No. 10 Jones County. Jones County topped Griffin 49-14 in last year’s quarterfinals.

Class 4A

Last week’s slate kicked off the postseason with 13 first-ever meetings and saw home teams go a combined 15-1. No. 3 seed North Oconee’s thrilling 41-35 win over Fayette County was the only road victory and it is also worth mentioning that No. 1 seed Cedartown did not play, but advanced after Arabia Mountain forfeited their matchup. In the second-round, four of the eight matchups will be first-ever meetings and each of the eight region champions will look to defend their home turf. North Oconee is set to visit Cedartown. The Titans’ offense has averaged 32.2 ppg this season and Cedartown has lit up the scoreboard with a 34.4 ppg average. Defensively, Cedartown has the edge with a 12.1 ppg average to the Titans’ 26.6 ppg. Islands will visit Bainbridge after its thrilling comeback in the first round that saw the Sharks rally back from 18-0 defeat Hardaway 22-18. Bainbridge was in control throughout its opener and dispatched Westside-Macon 42-0. No. 5 Flowery Branch at No. 1 Marist is the lone top 10 matchup on the second-round slate. These two programs occupied the same Region 7 over the past two seasons and Marist took both matchups—defeating the Falcons 27-0 in 2019 and 20-0 in 2018. Marist was a 49-0 winner over Central-Carroll in the first round and Flowery Branch is coming off a strong 40-7 win over Luella. Like their previous two matchups, this will be the third time that both teams were ranked heading into kickoff. LaGrange will visit to Perry in another intriguing pairing. LaGrange pulled out a hard-fought 30-26 win over New Hampstead in the first round and Perry took care of business with a 30-14 win over Westover. These teams have split their previous two meetings 1-1 and this will be their first time playing since 2007. LaGrange will look to advance past the second round for the first time since 2008 under its first-year head coach Matt Napier. As for Perry, the Panthers are looking to reach the quarterfinals for the first time since 2007. Baldwin will visit undefeated and No. 3 ranked Carver-Columbus. Carver-Columbus has a 3-1 all-time edge in the series and took the last contest 28-19 when the teams met in 2009. Hapeville Charter visits No. 2 Jefferson. Both teams shutout their opponents in the first round, but the games could not have been any more different. Hapeville Charter advanced with a 6-0 victory over Heritage-Catoosa, whereas No. 2 ranked Jefferson cruised to a 65-0 blowout over Mt. Zion. Northwest Whitfield visits Riverdale and both programs will be looking to clinch their first-ever quarterfinal appearance. Finally, Cairo will visit No. 4 Benedictine. Cairo rides a five-game winning streak and Benedictine is coming off a 42-35 win over a talented Troup team in the first round. It was just the second Class 4A opponent that the Cadets have faced this season and junior quarterback Holden Geriner has 19 passing touchdowns and just one interception this season with an efficient 70.5 completion percentage.

Class 3A

One of the best games in the bracket is in the bottom-right quadrant where No. 7 Rockmart will play host to top-ranked Cedar Grove, the two-time defending state champions. “My own opinion is, if you are going to be the best, you have to beat the best,” Rockmart coach Biff Parson said. “The last two years, they have been the best. I feel our bracket might be the toughest road, because if we take care of business this week, next week we likely will have Crisp County.” The other game in that quadrant is between No. 4 Crisp County at No. 9 Richmond Academy. Should Cedar Grove and Crisp both advance, the quarterfinal game will be a rematch of last year’s state title game. On the bottom-left quadrant, No. 3 Peach County will play host to No. 10 Thomson and should the Trojans advance, Peach will likely face No. 2 Oconee County in the quarterfinals. In the top-right quadrant of the bracket, No. 5 Pierce County is the favorite and will have to beat Central-Macon before facing the winner of Carver-Atlanta/Cherokee Bluff. In the top-left quadrant, No. 7 Appling County will face an unranked Upson-Lee program and will likely face No. 6 Greater Atlanta Christian in the quarter, if GAC beats North Hall in the second round.

Class 2A

One of the most interesting matchups in the bracket is top-ranked Fitzgerald playing host to Northeast in the top-right quadrant of the bracket. The Raiders, coming off their first playoff victory since 2002, have never beaten a team ranked No. 1. Fitzgerald is coming off a 58-12 victory over Oglethorpe County last week. No. 7 Fannin County will face Heard County in the top part of that quadrant. In the bottom-left quadrant of the bracket, No. 2 Rabun County is the favorite and will have to beat Model to advance. Rabun, one victory away from its sixth-straight visit to the quarterfinals, is led by Gunner Stockton, rated as the nation’s No. 1 quarterback for the class of 2022. Fifth-ranked Early County will travel to Bleckley County in the other game on the bottom-left side of the bracket. Third-ranked Lovett will have to beat No. 8 Callaway in the top-left quadrant of the bracket. The other game in that quadrant is also between ranked programs – No. 4 Thomasville and No. 8 Dodge County. In the bottom-right quadrant, No. 6 Jefferson County will have to beat Jeff Davis to face the winner of Bremen and South Atlanta.

Class A Public

The best matchup in the second round is likely No. 3 Dublin traveling to No. 4 Brooks County in the bottom-right quadrant of the bracket. Whichever team wins will face the winner of the No. 9 Washington-Wilkes/Bowdon game. Top-ranked Metter faces unranked Mitchell County in the top-left quadrant of the bracket and if it advances, the Tigers will face the winner of No. 6 Macon County and an unranked Warren County program. In the bottom-left quadrant of the bracket No. 2 Commerce will face unranked Gordon Lee and if it advances, it will likely face No. 5 Irwin County, if it beats unranked Wilcox in the second round. In the top-right quadrant, Lincoln County and Hancock Central will face off to earn a quarterfinal berth against either No. 8 Clinch County or No. 7 Pelham in the bottom part of the quadrant.

Class A Private

The bottom-left quadrant garners attention, not for the second round games, but for the potential quarterfinal matchup between No. 1 Prince Avenue Christian and No. 2 ELCA. Of course, Prince Ave. will have to beat Darlington and ELCA will need to beat Stratford Academy to advance. In the quarters, if Prince Avenue beats ELCA, it will end the Chargers’ run of five consecutive state championships. In the top-left quadrant, No. 8 Savannah Christian will face St. Anne Pacelli and will face the winner of two ranked programs – No. 10 North Cobb Christian and No. 5 Wesleyan in the quarterfinals. Third-ranked Fellowship Christian might be the favorite in the bottom-right quadrant of the bracket but it will have to survive a meeting with No. 4 Athens Academy in the second round. The winner of that game will face the winner of No. 7 Trinity Christian and Whitefield Academy in the quarterfinals. In the top-right quadrant, No. 9 George Walton will travel to No. 6 Christian Heritage and will face the winner of Calvary Day and First Presbyterian in the quarterfinals.

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