High School Sports

Northside, Warner Robins, Veterans games highlight Middle Georgia football playoff schedule

Michael Bradley (2) and the Warner Robins Demons open the GHSA Class 5A playoffs Friday at Griffin.
Michael Bradley (2) and the Warner Robins Demons open the GHSA Class 5A playoffs Friday at Griffin. photo@macon.com

GHSA

Class 6A

Grovetown at Northside

Series history: Northside leads 5-0.

Last meeting: Northside won 28-7 in 2015.

Scouting report: This year’s Grovetown, under new head coach Damien Postell, is better than the one Northside has thumped the past four years, although the Warriors (5-5) have only two wins over winning teams. Northside (8-2) having a week off and still miffed over the Houston County loss are indications this might be a running-clock fourth quarter.

Next up: The winner of Hughes (Region 5, fourth) and Johns Creek (Region 7, first).

Class 5A

Warner Robins at Griffin

Series history: Warner Robins leads 3-1.

Last meeting: Warner Robins won 23-6 in 2001.

Scouting report: Warner Robins (3-7) has been solid on defense all season and faces a pass-heavy one-loss team after playing in a run-oriented region. The Demons might have the toughness to power their way to a win on offense if they can keep Griffn’s speed — and especially quarterback Tylan Morton and running back Santo Dunn — from taking control.

Next up: The winner of Villa Rica (Region 7, fourth) and Arabia Mountain (Region 5, first).

Jones County at Wayne County

Series history: Wayne County leads 7-1.

Last meeting: Wayne County won 41-0 in 2005.

Scouting report: Wayne County was a 3-7 team a year ago that made the playoffs and is a 3-7 playoff team again. The Yellow Jackets are balanced, but Jones County (6-4) is playing well in all three phases and has been toughened up by competing in a much stronger region.

Next up: The winner of North Springs (Region 6, fourth) and Buford (Region 8, first).

Veterans at Starr’s Mill

Series history: First meeting.

Scouting report: Starr’s Mill (6-4) got first, courtesy of a unique tiebreaker system. The Panthers have been in shootouts, with seven games of 50 points or more between both teams. This is one of ball-control, but Veterans (5-5) has an edge with a decent enough passing game to mix things up.

Next up: The winner of Kell (Region 7, third) and Southwest DeKalb (Region 5, second).

Class 4A North Clayton at Mary Persons

Series history: First meeting.

Scouting report: Mary Persons (8-2) has given up all of 23 points in the past five games, has played solid competition (five playoffs teams) and knows how to win close games against playoff competition. A postseason Friday night at Dan Pitts Stadium plus a powerful offense and stout defense all combine to probably be too much for North Clayton (5-5).

Next up: The winner of Heritage-Catoosa (Region 6, third) and Stephens County (Region 8, second).

Upson-Lee at Woodward Academy

Series history: Tied at 1.

Last meeting: Woodward won 6-3 in 2011.

Scouting report: The Knights are in the playoffs for the second straight year under head coach Tommy Parks. They lost in the first round last year to Liberty County.

Next up: The winner of Oconee County (Region 8, third) and Northwest Whitfield (Region 6, second)

Luella at West Laurens

Series history: First meeting.

Scouting report: The Lions are in the playoffs for just the third time and the first time since 2013, while Raiders snapped a two-game losing streak in the season finale at Perry to earn the second seed from Region 2-4A.

Next up: The winner of Pickens Count (Region 6, fourth) and Jefferson (Region 8, first).

Baldwin at Cairo

Series history: Cairo leads 1-0.

Last meeting: Cairo won 9-7 in 2009.

Scouting report: The Braves made the playoffs despite a 4-6 record, while Syrupmakers have won eight straight since losing 23-17 to rival Thomas County Central in the second week of the season.

Next up: The winner of Sandy Creek (Region 5, third) and Marist (Region 7, second).

Class 3A Tattnall County at Peach County

Series history: First meeting.

Scouting report: Tattnall County (5-5) comes from a six-team region that had only two sub-.500 teams (with three playing nine games, thanks to weather). All of the Battle Creek Warriors’ losses have been to playoff teams (including 3-5-1 Bradwell Institute). None of those playoff teams are as good as Peach County, which has been pretty businesslike in outscoring opponents by 21 points a game.

Next up: The winner of Jackson County (Region 8, third) or North Murray (Region 6, second).

Westside at Pierce County

Series history: First meeting.

Scouting report: Westside has won four straight after starting against a packed schedule, while Pierce County averages 43.5 points per game.

Next up: The winner of Bremen (Region 6, fourth) and Morgan County (Region 8, first).

Class 2A

Brooks County at Southwest

Series history: First meeting.

Scouting report: Former Southwest head coach Maurice Freeman has five 10-win seasons at Brooks County, although this year’s team is 7-3. Southwest (6-4) tied for the Region 3-2A championship, the first time in its 47-year history that it claimed a share of a region title.

Next up: The winner of Model (Region 7, fourth) and Callaway (Region 5, first).

Dodge County at Thomasville

Series history: Thomasville leads 4-1.

Last meeting: Dodge County won 20-13 in 2006.

Scouting report: The Indians finished strong offensively, scoring 105 points combined in wins over East Laurens and Bleckley County. The Bulldogs opened the season with losses to rivals Cairo and Thomas County Central. Their other losses came to Cook and top-ranked Fitzgerald.

Next up: The winner of Spencer (Region 5, fourth) and Pepperell (Region 7, first).

Dublin at Fitzgerald

Series history: Fitzgerald leads 11-9-1.

Last meeting: Fitzgerald won 41-21 in 2013.

Scouting report: The Irish won their first six games but then lost two straight before rebounding by winning their final two games, including a win over Region 3-2A champion Washington County. The Purple Hurricane’s only loss came to Class 7A’s Tift County. Five times this season, Fitzgerald has held an opponent to single digits in scoring.

Next up: The winner of Heard County (Region 5, third) and Rockmart (Region 7, second).

Monticello at Hapeville Charter

Series history: First meeting.

Scouting report: The Hurricanes reached the playoffs despite a 3-7 record and being shut out three times. The Hornets’ program reached the playoffs in its sixth year of existence, and the Hornets are riding a six-game winning streak.

Next up: The winner of Swainsboro (Region 2, third) and Jefferson County (Region 4, second).

Berrien at Washington County

Series history: First meeting.

Scouting report: In head coach Bill Cribb’s first season, the Rebels finished 4-5, including 2-3 in the difficult Region 1-2A. Berrien is trying for its first five-win season since 2009. The Golden Hawks reached the postseason for the ninth straight season, although they were knocked out in the first round last year after 11 wins in 2012 and championship game appearances in 2013 and 2014.

Next up: The winner of Chattooga (Region 7, third) and Lamar County (Region 5, second).

Chattooga at Lamar County

Series history: Lamar County leads 2-0.

Last meeting: Lamar County won 21-16 in 2001.

Scouting report: The Trojans (6-4) are in the playoffs for the eighth straight season and have won three of their past four games to get the first round at home. And home is good. Lamar County has lost three regular-season home games the past two seasons after a tremendous run at Trojan Field for several years. Chattooga (6-4) is off a 35-10 loss to Pepperell.

Up next: The winner of Berrien (Region 1, fourth) and Washington County (Region 3, first).

Class 1A Private

FPD at Aquinas

Series history: Aquinas leads 2-0

Last meeting: Aquinas won 33-32 in 2013.

Scouting report: Aquinas, which lost several players from its state finalist team through graduation and transfers, has lost two of its past three games. FPD, meanwhile, is 2-4 in its past six games following a 4-0 start.

Next up: At No. 1 Eagle’s Landing Christian.

Holy Innocents at Stratford

Series history: First meeting.

Scouting report: Holy Innocents finished fourth in Region 5-1A, a region that had its three top teams earn first-round byes. Stratford lost 7-3 to Tattnall Square two weeks ago, beat Aquinas for the first time in five tries last week and will get a rematch with Tattnall with a win over Holy Innocents.

Next up: At No. 5 Tattnall Square.

Class 1A Public

Irwin County at Dooly County

Series history: Irwin County leads 4-2.

Last meeting: Irwin County won 40-29 in 2014.

Scouting report: The Indians have lost in the Class 1A public school finals the past two years and the semifinals in 2013, but they were just 6-4 this regular season. The Bobcats are also 6-4, and they have reached the playoffs every season in head coach Jimmy Hughes’ tenure.

Next up: At No. 5 Mt. Zion.

Trion at Taylor County

Series history: Trion leads 1-0.

Last meeting: Trion won 41-21 in 1997.

Scouting report: The Bulldogs scored at least 40 points five times this season, including their final two regular-season games. The Vikings finished 9-1 and won their final six games, averaging 40.4 points per game in the regular season.

Next up: At No. 7 Commerce.

Marion County at Twiggs County

Series history: Marion County leads 1-0.

Last meeting: Marion County won 22-20 in 2015.

Scouting report: Marion County (7-3) hasn’t lost much with a coaching change, although this is the Eagles’ lowest regular-season win total since 2009. Conversely, this is Twiggs County’s best regular season since 2009. Both teams know their way around a shootout, so clutch defense is a key, and playoff-tested Marion County has that edge.

Next up: At No. 8 Manchester.

GISA

Class 3A

Valwood at John Milledge

Series history: Valwood leads 2-1.

Last meeting: John Milledge won 35-24 in 2014.

Scouting report: The Valiants won the Class 3A title in 2015 and the Class 2A title in 2012 with Ashley Henderson as their head coach. They beat Westfield and Trinity Christian in the first two rounds of the playoffs. The Trojans are in the semifinals for the fifth straight season but haven’t reached the championship during that time. John Milledge, (12-0) and looking for its first GISA title, beat Tiftarea and Pinewood Christian in the first two rounds.

Up next: The winner of Deerfield-Windsor and Gatewood.

Deerfield-Windsor at Gatewood

Series history: Deerfield leads 2-0.

Last meeting: Deerfield won 48-7 in 2015.

Scouting report: The Knights knocked the Gators out in the quarterfinals the past two seasons, and both times the win came by a 48-7 final. The Knights, who lost to Valwood for the championship last year, beat Augusta Prep and Frederica in the first two rounds. The Gators are in the semifinals for the first time since 1999, and they are hosting a semifinal game for the first time since 1990. Gatewood (10-2) beat Brookwood and Heritage in the first two rounds.

Up next: The winner of Valwood and John Milledge.

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