For high school programs around Georgia -- and many places around the country, for that matter -- the chance to play football after Thanksgiving is the mark of a good season.
A healthy number of teams from Middle Georgia is doing just that this weekend. Ten GHSA programs are taking part in quarterfinal action Friday, while two GISA members, Westfield and Piedmont, will be taking the field Saturday at Mercer University Stadium in that association’s two championship games.
The 12 area teams playing this weekend mark a one-third increase from last year’s total of nine. Six area teams made the GHSA quarterfinals last year, while three took part in GISA championships. Since 2006, there have been between 6-11 teams still playing at this point, so this definitely has been a better than average season.
That success is evident in GHSA Class AAAAA, where three teams are still in the running for the Georgia Dome and the state championship game.
While playoff veteran Northside is enjoying its 17th straight season with 10 or more wins, Houston County has reached 10 wins for the first time in 21 years as the Bears look for their first quarterfinal win since 1993 in their first quarterfinal appearance since 2006. Jones County, meanwhile, is enjoying its best season in program history, posting 10 wins and heading to the quarterfinals for the first time.
It’s possible that both Northside and Houston County could host semifinal games. Houston County is guaranteed to host should it beat Stockbridge in Friday’s quarterfinals, while Northside might have to go through a coin flip. If so, then the question of where to play will become a big question, as Northside moved its quarterfinal from McConnell-Talbert Stadium to Peach County because of unplayable field conditions.
Beyond Class AAAAA, West Laurens is turning into a bit of a surprise story. The Raiders weren’t widely picked to win their region, but yet they are in the quarterfinals for the first time in 20 years after winning Region 2-AAAA and defeating Bainbridge and Stephens County in the playoffs. They will have their hands full against St. Pius X, but if the Garrel Quainton-to-Justin Smith passing combination starts to click again and the defense can contain St. Pius’ run game, then anything’s possible.
There’s also the usual suspects: Washington County in Class AAA, Fitzgerald and Vidalia in Class AA, Hawkinsville and Dooly County in Class A public. Add to that Tattnall Square’s first appearance in the Class A private quarterfinals, and there’s a full night of football ahead.
It should be a fun evening. With the Georgia Dome looming two weeks from now, there will be some competitive football ahead.
Contact Ron Seibel at 744-4222 or firstname.lastname@example.org