The first part of the 2014 football season is over and while some teams are putting the balls and helmets away for the year, other teams are getting ready to make the next move up in their season. The only difference is that you win, you move on.
Lose and your next game’s in 2015.
Friday starts the 2014 GHSA Football state playoffs in the first round. The winners advance to the next round and after that, it’s a trip to Atlanta and the Georgia Dome to play in the State Finals the first weekend in December. While some regions have already been decided, there is chaos in others, which means that those will have to be settled by mini-games.
But there was drama already before kickoff… (cue dramtic music)
The Class AAA playoff schedule were not finalized until Monday. That’s because of a pair of key games on Saturday that have playoff implications and a series of the always-popular mini-games on Monday.
The Region 5-AAA playoffs were the most uncertain.
Pay attention. This is going to cause more confusion than a mouse in a burlesque show, as Foghorn Leghorn once said.
Central Carroll defeated Central Carroll, so those two finished one-two. But on Monday, Pepperell, Cedartown and Rockmart played mini games on Monday at Paulding County High. Rockmart and Cedartown earned the final two spots, which left Pepperell as the odd man out (think of it as rock, paper, scissors and Pepperrell was scissors.) It took three mini-games to decide the final two spots anad here’s how things worked out.
Cedartown beat Pepperell 17-0 in the first mini-game, then Rockmart beat Pepperell 7-0 in the second game. Based on Cedartown’s head-to-head win over Rockmart in the regular-season finale, the Bulldogs got the No. 3 seed and will play Adairsville in the first round. Rockmart will be the fourth seed and open against Calhoun. It was sort of like three teen-age girls fighting for the same prom dress. In the end, two of them shedded tears and one got the dress.
Those teams that were involved in a mini-game will play their first-round state playoff game on Saturday, unless both teams agree to play on Friday.
Got all that?
Washington County, the defending Region 3 champion, begins the playoffs with a game against Jackson (7-3), which finished fourth in Region 4. The top-ranked Golden Hawks have been a scoring machine and have topped 50 points the last six games, partially because of their strength and partially because of a series of weak opponents.
Washington County has perhaps the state’s best player in A.J. Gray, who starts at quarterback and defensive back. The Georgia Tech commitment has held the offense together while the staff searched to develop a deep stable of running backs and depth on both sides of the ball.
While a lot of his fans are looking past Jackson and further down the playoff road, Ingram said his staff and players aren’t taking that approach. This is no time to be overlooking an opponent, he said.
“I’m not shying away from expectations, but I’m realistic enough to know there are some good teams out there,” Washington County head coach Joel Ingram told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “The main thing is to focus on the next practice and in creating a great plan and covey it to the kids. We’re coaching with urgency. You never know when the last game of the season is going to be and for most of these kids, that’s the last football game they’ll ever get to play, so we’re going to prepare and we’re going to coach every snap.”
While the other three classes have their brackets established, Class A (which has a public/private school split) won’t be decided until Tuesday. That’s because With the conclusion of the regular season, the final Georgia High School Association/MaxPreps private school power ratings of the season will be released Tuesday, with the top 16 public schools and top 16 private schools competing for separate championships for the third straight season. Schools that think they got the short straw will be allowed to appeal their rating before the lists are made official on Wednesday and the playoff brackets are determined. Once those appeals are heard, the brackets will be released and play gets underway. They, like their larger GHSA brothers, will have a chance to play in the Big Peach for a state championship.
So while practices are going on, bands are working on their halftime shows again and fields are getting painted, the GHSA State Football Playoffs get underway Friday. Most games will have 7:30 kickoffs unless the two teams mutually agree, so you might want to check with your school for kickoff times.
Get the hot cocoa, hot dogs and popcorn ready. It’s time for high school football’s answer to Survivor. Who moves on and who gets their flame put out?
We’ll know the answers Friday.
GHSA Football Playoffs
First Round (R is for region and T is the seed in that region)(Schedule courtesy the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Friday, November 14
R6 T3 South Forsyth at R5 T2 Etowah
R4 T4 North Paulding at R3 T1 Westlake
R2 T3 Newton at R1 T2 Valdosta
R8 T4 Central Gwinnett at R7 T1 North Gwinnett
R5 T3 Roswell at R6 T2 Lambert
R3 T4 Douglas County at R4 T1 Hillgrove
R1 T3 Lee County at R2 T2 Lovejoy
R7 T4 Norcross at R8 T1 Archer
R3 T3 East Coweta at R4 T2 McEachern
R5 T4 Cherokee at R6 T1 Alpharetta
R8 T3 Grayson at R7 T2 Mill Creek
R1 T4 Tift County at R2 T1 Tucker
R4 T3 North Cobb at R3 T2 Hughes
R6 T4 Northview at R5 T1 Milton
R7 T3 Peachtree Ridge at R8 T2 Dacula
R2 T4 Rockdale County at R1 T1 Colquitt County
R6 T3 Mays at R5 T2 South Paulding
R4 T4 Starr’s Mill at R3 T1 Ware County
R2 T3 Jones County at R1 T2 Carver-Columbus
R8 T4 Winder-Barrow at R7 T1 Kell
R5 T3 Alexander at R6 T2 Stephenson
R3 T4 Brunswick at R4 T1 Stockbridge
R1 T3 LaGrange at R2 T2 Houston County
R7 T4 Sequoyah at R8 T1 Lanier
R3 T3 Glynn Academy at R4 T2 Drew
R5 T4 New Manchester at R6 T1 Creekside
R8 T3 Salem at R7 T2 Dalton
R1 T4 Northside-Columbus at R2 T1 Northside-Warner Robins
R4 T3 Mundy’s Mill at R3 T2 Coffee
R6 T4 Carver-Atlanta at R5 T1 Allatoona
T7 T3 Creekview at R8 T2 Gainesville
R2 T4 Warner Robins at R1 T1 Harris County
R6 T3 Columbia at R5 T2 Sandy Creek
R4 T4 Eagle’s Landing at R3 T1 Wayne County
R2 T3 Baldwin at R1 T2 Worth County
R8 T4 White County at R7 T1 Cartersville
R5 T3 Whitewater at R6 T2 Marist
R3 T4 Liberty County at R4 T1 Griffin
R1 T3 Westover at R2 T2 Mary Persons
R7 T4 Heritage-Catoosa at R8 T1 Buford
R3 T3 Thomson at R4 T2 Eastside
R5 T4 Fayette County at R6 T1 St. Pius
R8 T3 Stephens County at R7 T2 Pickens
R1 T4 Bainbridge at R2 T1 West Laurens
R4 T3 Locust Grove at R3 T2 Burke County
R6 T4 Arabia Mountain at R5 T1 Woodward Academy
R7 T3 Gilmer at R8 T2 North Oconee
R2 T4 Veterans at R1 T1 Cairo
(R6 #3) Ringgold (8-2) at (R5 #2) Callaway (6-4)
(R4 #4) Jackson-Atlanta (7-3) at (R3 #1) Washington County (10-0)
(R2 #3) Jackson (7-3 ) at (R1 #2) Pierce County (8-2)
(R8 #4) Oconee County (7-3) at (R7 #1) West Hall (9-1)
(R5 #3) Cedartown (3-7) at (R6 #2) Adairsville (9-1)
(R3 #4) Hephzibah (6-4) at (R4 #1) Blessed Trinity (10-0)
(R1 #3) Dodge County (8-2) at (R2 #2) Westside, Macon (9-1)
(R7 #4) Franklin County (4-6) at (R8 #1) Jefferson (10-0)
(R3 #3) Westside-Augusta (4-5-1) at (R4 #2) Cedar Grove (8-2) (Saturday at Panthersville)
(R5 #4) Rockmart (3-7) at (R6 #1) Calhoun (10-0)
(R8 #3) Elbert County (7-3) at (R7 #2) Lumpkin County (5-5)
(R1 #4) Appling County (7-3) at (R2 #1) Peach County (10-0)
(R4 #3) Westminster (9-1) at (R3 #2) Laney (7-3)
(R6 #4) Sonoraville (6-4) at (R5 #1) Central-Carrollton (10-0)
(R7 #3) East Hall (6-4) at (R8 #2) Hart County (9-1)
(R2 #4) Central-Macon (5-5) at (R1 #1) Cook (8-2)
R6 T3 Wesleyan at R5 T2 Heard County
R4 T4 Monticello at R3 T1 Screven County
R2 T3 Bacon County at R1 T2 Brooks County
R8 T4 Washington-Wilkes at R7 T1 Darlington
R5 T3 Bremen at R6 T2 Lovett
R3 T4 Dublin at R4 T1 Macon County
R1 T3 Thomasville at R2 T2 Benedictine
R7 T4 Chatooga at R8 T1 Rabun County
R3 T3 Swainsboro at R4 T2 Lamar County
R5 T4 Chattahoochee County at R6 T1 Greater Atlanta Christian
R8 T3 Greene County at R7 T2 Coosa
R1 T4 Berrien at R2 T1 Vidalia
R4 T3 Bleckley County at R3 T2 Jefferson County
R6 T4 Pace Academy at R5 T1 Bowdon
T7 T3 Model at R8 T2 Union County
R2 T4 Bryan County at R1 T1 Fitzgerald
Class A Public and Private
Pairings will be decided this week by power rankings and the first round is November 21.