Storylines meet in semis for more playoff drama

Photo by Sonny Kennedy

With two weekends left in the 2014 football season, Georgia is set to wrap up one of the most competitive seasons in state history. Just looking back two years, we have seen 12 different schools win state titles, including seven first-ever state champs. Four of last year’s defending champs have already fallen out of the playoffs and there are 10 semifinalist currently sitting two wins away from capturing first-ever state titles.


This past offseason, we saw more than 70 head coaching changes across the state and also witnessed the first reclassification since the GHSA expanded to a sixth classification in 2012. This recipe for change was mixed with Georgia’s well-established reputation for upredictable storylines and must-see matchups. There were 192 teams that battled for a spot i this year’s playoffs and only seven will be able to end the 2014 season with victories. By the time the semifinals are set, all of the remaining teams are riding hot-streaks. There are the unbeatens like Colquitt County, Allatoona and Buford that have been on a roll the whole season, but there are also teams that have had to find their stride in order to peak at the right time. In Class AAAAAA, McEachern opened the season with back-to-back losses and Archer dropped its first three games before sparking its current 10-game winning streak. Now, the Indians and Tigers stand as two of the most dangerous remaining teams in the postseason. McEachern has outscored its three playoff opponents by 25.3 points per game and Archer has topped its trio of adversaries by 34 points per game, including back-to-back 43-point blowouts. Also in Class AAAAAA, Etowah has rebounded to stamp school-record 11 wins this season and rides a seven-game win streak into its trip to Archer, after suffering back-to-back region defeats in the heart of the regular season.


Class AAAAA’s last two state champs (Gainesville, Creekside) were first-time champs and judging by all the upsets in this year’s Class AAAAA bracket, this classification is once again up for grabs. Mays has the talent to matchup with anyone, but it was the Raiders’ lack of playoff experience they have overcome this post-season that has been the most impressive. The Raiders’ playoff run puts them two wins away from becoming the first city of Atlanta school to win a state title since 1973. In Class AAA and Class AAAA, we have seen schools handle the reclassification ex-tremely well. All four of Class AAAA’s semifi-nalists (Buford, Woodward Academy, Cartersville and St. Pius) were classed up from AAA last year, which means a first-time AAAA champion will be crowned. Despite Class AAA losing some of it’s top teams to higher classifications, the new teams that entered it this year have made it one of the most competitive classes this season. Westminster and Calhoun both made the jump from Class AA and have made their way to the semis.


In Class AA, the playoffs have been a weekly showcase of North vs. South and only GAC is left from the northern half of the state. The average distance between opponents in Class AA the past two rounds was more than 200 miles and after hosting Lamar County and Vidalia, GAC must make the 200 mile trip south to Jaycee Stadium to take on Fitzgerald. In Class A, no school has repeated as state champs since Lincoln County in 2005-06, but both of last year’s champs (Marion County and Aquinas) are undefeated with home field advantage entering the semifinals. Mount Paran and Calvary Day join Aquinas as undefeated teams left in Class A, and ELCA is back in the semis for the first time since its 2012 state championship season, despite starting the season 0-6. Class A-Public (Marion County, Hawkinsville, Commerce, Irwin County) and Class AAAA (Buford, Cartersville, Woodward Academy, St. Pius) are the only classifications, in which all four semifinalists have won state titles before. Every classification has its own storylines and every team has its own history to make. It does not get better than this

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