Six Bi-City football teams will compete in playoff games on Friday, four of which will be played at home fields.
For the hosts, plenty of challenges will be presented despite the seeding advantage. For the visitors, it will take perfect performances to pull off monumental upsets.
Warner Robins at Harris County
This season, Harris County has already matched its all-time best winning streak, taking its past eight games after starting the season 0-2. It will be looking to set a new mark when it hosts Warner Robins on Friday.
The Tigers, owners of this season Region 1-AAAAA championship, have the benefit of being a top seed, something coach Dwight Jones says is huge come playoff time. At the same time, he knows the history of Harris County’s opponent and that it will be a tall first-round task.
“This is a good football program,” Jones said of Warner Robins. “There’s a lot of good history there, the coaches do a fantastic job. We know we’ve got our work cut out for us on Friday.”
Warner Robins finished with a 6-4 record in the regular season, but its four losses all came to fellow playoff teams. Peach County (10-0) topped the Demons 19-0 in the season-opener, Houston County (8-2) won 62-30, Northside-Warner Robins (9-1) squeaked by 24-21 and Jones County (8-2) hung on 31-21.
The Tigers offense presents a tandem of 1,000-yard rushers in the ground game coupled with an efficient passer through the air. TaQuon Marshall is a constant threat in both, making it a very difficult offense to defend.
Overall, Harris County averages 41.1 points per game this season. It has advanced past the first round in each of the past two seasons.
Prattville at Central
There were already plenty of challenges for the Red Devils against Prattville in the AHSAA Class 7A quarterfinals. The Lions are a good team that gave Central plenty of difficulty in a 42-34 Red Devils win earlier this season.
Now, Central will be without its best player, Traveon Samuel, and things are just a little more difficult.
Coach Jamey DuBose said the coaches met over the weekend for a long time trying to come up with a game plan they thought would be successful against Prattville. He’s confident they have the surrounding cast to make up for the absence of the talented senior.
Samuel had a lot of success in the first meeting against Prattville, but so too did the rest of the Central offense. Quarterback Zion Webb had one of his finest outings of the season, tossing touchdown passes to Jamal Couch, Ethan Baber and Quan Weaver. Kenneth Thomas also reached the end zone twice in the game.
Perhaps the biggest key to this rematch will be how the Central defense, which had its best outing of the season a week ago, handles Prattville’s talented athletes. Quarterback Keith Washington, along with the running back tandem of Kingston Davis and Joseph Burke, make Prattville’s one of the toughest offenses to defend.
The Red Devils are hoping their on-field performance will be enough to match the fireworks off the field, which will be set off at the stadium during the contest.
Jones County at Carver
For the first time since 2006, Carver will enter the playoffs without a No. 1 seed.
It makes things more difficult, as the Tigers will host Jones County, a team that defeated Northside-Warner Robins and spent time ranked in the top 10 this season.
Still, few teams in the state have as much talent as Carver does. At its best, it is still one of the teams to beat in Class AAAAA.
Since scoring 14 points in a 34-14 loss to Harris County, Carver has averaged a 46.5-14 win in its last two games. The offense, behind junior quarterback Jawon Pass, has been on point. That will need to continue in order to defeat a team that has failed to score at least 40 points just three times this season.
Carver is 8-2 this season. It has won at least 11 in eight consecutive seasons.
Chattahoochee County at Greater Atlanta Christian
After four straight losing seasons without playoff berths, the coach that led Chattahoochee County to the postseason in each of its first four seasons has guided it back.
The Panthers are 6-4 and a 4-seed out of Region 5-AA. They will travel to GSWA No. 1 GAC in the first round of the Class AA playoffs. GAC is undefeated this season and went 10-2 a year ago, losing by one point to Calhoun in the second round of the playoffs.
The Spartans have allowed just 14 points in their past five games and only 99 the entire year.
The Panthers are led by C.J. Afoa, who has 3,081 yards and 30 touchdowns passing this season. Maurio Moore, Justin Dore and Cory Dixon each have over 500 yards rushing.
Northside at Northside-Warner Robins
Like Chattahoochee County, Northside is making a return to the playoffs after four years of fruitless regular seasons. Despite a 4-6 record, the Patriots clinched the 4-seed out of Region 1-AAAAA and will travel to face Northside-Warner Robins in the playoff opener.
It is a tall task against a team that has lost just once this year and was a favorite to win state entering the season.
Patriots coach Morgan Ingram likened the game to Texas A&M’s win over Auburn last Saturday, noting that it will take a perfect effort but never counting his team out.
The Patriots have just one playoff win (2005) in school history.
Community Christian at Calvary Christian
For the third straight season, Calvary Christian will play in its league’s state semifinal.
This year, it is in the Georgia Independent Christian Athletic Association, which advances just four teams to the postseason.
The Knights are 8-2 and will face Community Christian, also 8-2, which they defeated 42-28 two weeks ago.
Behind the running game of Anthony Santiago and a normally stingy defense, Calvary is attempting to advance to its first state championship in the varsity program’s four-year history.