High school football playoffs: Picking winners for every game in the state

dmitchell@ledger-enquirer.comNovember 30, 2012 

So, two weeks ago, I made my picks for which teams I thought would make it to the semifinals in every classification of the GHSA state playoffs. Needless to say, I missed the mark on a couple of picks.

Grayson, a team I have been saying for weeks had once again become the favorite to win it all in Class AAAAAA, found a way to get trounced by North Gwinnett (a good team, yes. But, still…).

MLK, Jr., was one of my semifinalists in Class AAAAA, but it went down, 20-19 to Allatoona in the second round. So did Kell, in spectacular fashion, to Gainesville. (In my defense, I had both Allatoona and Gainesville as darkhorses…)

In Class AAAA, I lost Jonesboro in the first round, though the rest of my semifinals picks are still alive, and in AAA, I have somehow remained perfect (Buford, Thomson, Peach County, St. Pius X).

Today, though, I request a mulligan. So, I’m going to go through game-by-game and make my picks for tonight’s quarterfinals action.

After two weeks to think, it’s possible that I pick against teams I had originally selected to advance to the semis.

Let’s get it started in the lower classifications.

Athens Academy vs. Prince Avenue: I’ve been high on Prince all year, but I don’t like this matchup. I’ll take the team across town. Athens Academy

Landmark Christian vs. First Presbyterian: First Presbyterian surprised me against Brookstone. That was an impressive show of force. I’ll stick with it this week. First Presbyterian

Walker vs. Georgia Walton: Tough call, but give me George Walton.

Savannah Christian vs. Eagle’s Landing Christian: This isn’t a good matchup for Savannah. The defending champs keep it going this week. ECLA

Class A Public

Lincoln County vs. Wilkinson County: I’ve liked both teams all year, but Lincoln County will be too much for Wilkinson.

Dooly County vs. Seminole County: Seminole County is a historically strong program, and it’s on a roll right now.

E.C.I vs. Trion: Trion was impressive against Irwin County last week, but I’ll still take E.C.I. in this one.

Marion County vs. Wilcox County: Closely matched game, and I think the visitors will fair well. But I think Wilcox County sneaks out of there with a victory.

Class AA

Fitzgerald vs. Jefferson: Jefferson has been on an impressive run this year. Coach T. McFerrin is one of the greats in the state of Georgia. That said, I’ll take Fitzgerald in an exciting contest.

Early County vs. GACS: Greater Atlanta Christian has been solid all year. So has Early County, but I think GACS has the edge.

Brooks County vs. Calhoun: This is an exciting matchup, and one that could go either way. I’ve changed my mind about three times since I started writing this sentence. And I’m writing more just to delay making a pick. I guess, in the end, I have to give the edge to the defending champs. Calhoun has given us no reason to doubt it can repeat this season. But this is a GREAT matchup.

Lamar County vs. Lovett: For much of the season, I wrote about how much I didn’t like Lovett getting votes to be in the top 10 because it got too much credit for “good losses.” But, you know what? Those losses help. Give me Lovett in this one.

Class AAA

Carver vs. Buford: I know, I know—a lot of you local Carver fans were coming to this one so that you could see who I’d pick here. Unfortunately, I’m covering the game, so I’ll abstain from making a pick. I will say, however, that I think this game is about as even as it can get. Both teams have a lot of momentum, strong running games and dominant defenses. You can’t underestimate the revenge factor for the Tigers either. It should be a good one.

Thomson vs. Cartersville: Cartersville has been impressive this season. But Thomson is a touch above. The latter very well might win it all. Its resume is impressive.

Peach County vs. North Hall: North Hall’s turnaround is worthy of plenty of praise this season. To lose its best player (running back Imani Cross, now with the University of Nebraska) and yet double its win total is impressive. That said, Peach County is simply too talented. Despite the loss to Carver, Peach very well might win it all.

Washington County vs. St. Pius X: This is another close one. I lean St. Pius X. For some reason. I don’t know. Maybe it’s just my gut. Both teams are very, very good.

Class AAAA

S. Effingham vs. Monroe Area: I’m taking Monroe Area. Its athleticism is tough to beat.

Burke County vs. Sandy Creek: This may be the most intriguing of all matchups in the state of Georgia. I lean Sandy Creek simply because it is arguably one of the most talented team in the state. But I would not be the least bit surprised to see Burke County spring the upset.

Mary Persons vs. Ridgeland: I picked Ridgeland to the final four originally, and that’s the team I’ll stick with.

Stockbridge vs. Marist: Marist. See above.

Class AAAAA

Northside-Warner Robins vs. Tucker: Did I say Sandy Creek/Burke County was the most intriguing? It may be this one. Tucker is great, but Northside is better.

Ware County vs. Stephenson: Stephenson is still one of the great teams in the state this year. My brain says it will win this game easily, but my gut is saying Ware County.

Harris County vs. Gainesville: Here’s a game that I’m completely conflicted on. Let me explain: Do I think Gainesville is the better team? Quite possible. It certainly has the best player in the game (quarterback Deshaun Watson). But I think we’ve all learned that underestimating Harris County will get you burned. Every step along the way, it has proven doubters wrong. I’ll say the same thing so many people say each week about the Tigers: I think tonight is the night the magical run comes to an end. I’ll take Gainesville, but let it be known that if Harris County wins, I’ll nod and say: “Yeah…not surprised.”

Whitewater vs. Allatoona: Close contest, but I’ll take Allatoona. If Whitewater wins, you might blame it on the wear and tear that a 20-19 grind-it-out victory put on Allatoona last week.

Class AAAAAA

Lovejoy vs. North Gwinnett: Yeah, I had this penciled in as “Lowndes vs. Grayson” before the playoffs started. I’m sure you did, too. Pick your poison here. I’ll go with North Gwinnett.

North Cobb vs. Mill Creek: I’ll take North Cobb here. No explanation. Just a pick.

Camden County vs. Norcross: Norcross is a very capable team, and getting matched up with Camden is an unfortunate break. Give me Camden County in this one.

Colquitt County vs. Parkview: Parkview has been an interesting team all season. It has never once been dominant, but it does have a handful of impressive wins. I’m not surprised it is playing in the quarterfinals, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it pulled an upset here. That said, I think Colquitt County is hitting its stride just in time for a rematch with Camden County in the semifinals.

There you have it: Picks for every game. Let me hear your thoughts in emails at dmitchell@ledger-enquirer.com, in the comments or on Twitter @leprepsports. And, of course, enjoy the games tonight.

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