Georgia High School Football Daily Spotlight: Five semifinals playoff teams that far exceeded expectations

Of the 20 teams that have reached the semifinals, 15 were ranked in the preseason and can’t be called a true Cinderella. Five were unranked and given little chance before the season of sticking around this long.

Here is a look at each by the GHSF Daily staff:

Rockdale County (AAAA): The Bulldogs were 5-5 last season and started this year 1-3. Then, to ensure that no one would predict them to reach the final four, they nipped winless Monroe Area 18-15 in the 10th game. Since then, it’s been three decisive playoff victories on the road – Banneker (41-18), Hiram (21-7) and Westside (23-7).

Darlington (A): The Tigers were 6-5 last season and started 0-3. This is the private school in Rome that lost star quarterback Nash Nance to Calhoun, the No. 1-ranked team in Class AA. Darlington won its region but lost to Trion in the 10th game. Who saw this coming? Not us. Coach Tommy Atha has Darlington in the semifinals for the first time since the state championship season of 1998.

Clarke Central (AAAA): Talk about a blast from the past. Clarke Central was North Georgia’s top program in the largest class from the mid-1970s through the mid-’80s under Billy Henderson, a Hall of Fame coach, but hadn’t won a playoff game since 1997. The program hadn’t hit bottom, just become mediocre. Leroy Ryals has improved the school’s victory total each since he arrived in 2006. Still, Clarke Central was 8-2 in the regular season.

Colquitt County (AAAAA): Colquitt is the only semifinalist that is coming off a losing season. Colquitt was 4-6 in Rush Propst’s first season in Moultrie, but the coach who won five state titles at Hoover of Alabama has the program in the semifinals for the first time since 1998. Colquitt finished in third place in powerful Region 1-AAAAA.

Eastside (AAA): The Eagles of Covington lost most of their starters from last season’s region champions. That included player of the year Justin Wray. Eastside started 1-2, losing to its Newton County rivals, but has won 10 straight. Remember that this is a program that suffered consecutive 0-10 seasons in 2004-05.

Here is the preseason ranking of the other 15 semifinal teams:

No. 1 – Buford (AA)
No. 2 – Calhoun (AA), Gainesville (AAA), Wilcox County (A)
No. 3 – Flowery Branch (AAA), Clinch County (A)
No. 4 – Camden County (AAAAA), Fitzgerald (AA)
No. 5 – Sandy Creek (AAAA)
No. 6 – Griffin (AAAA)
No. 7 – Northside (AAAAA), Peach County (AAA), Lovett (AA)
No. 8 – Savannah Christian (A)
No. 10 – Newnan (AAAAA)

171 comments Add your comment

cane fan

December 2nd, 2009
11:04 am

fitzgerald 21
buford 12

Secret Weapon

December 2nd, 2009
12:37 pm

All you Camden County Wildcat Haters, Let the record speak for itself! The wildcats have beaten every team they face in the past as well as the present. It does not matter who they play, they are the best team in S.E. GA, and in Georgia. State Champions another Year!!

topper

December 2nd, 2009
1:08 pm

Lets go Wildcats!!!! Can’t wait till Friday!

EW

December 2nd, 2009
1:29 pm

Packers 17 Camden 13. Pack is on a roll and have seen this offence a few times this season already.

Jefferson

December 2nd, 2009
1:35 pm

Was that a pat on the back?

R.W. Gweed

December 2nd, 2009
1:37 pm

Fitzgerald will beat Lovett for the AA championship.

SportsFan31313

December 2nd, 2009
1:52 pm

EW,

Sorry to tell you this, but that is not going to happen.

N.GA.DAWG

December 2nd, 2009
2:26 pm

CALHOUN WILL BEAT BUFORD FOR THE AA TITLE.

mistermak

December 2nd, 2009
2:30 pm

why so much hate for the cats?

packerfan31322

December 2nd, 2009
2:32 pm

Camden comes from a weak division,Colquitt on the other hand comes from a division where almost any team could make the playoffs.If they play mistake free ball on offense its gonna be a long nite for them wildcats

cane fan

December 2nd, 2009
2:35 pm

fitzgerald will hold their own, coach simpson said that fitz is an unbelievale team, the best since pruitt has been there. I promise you that simpson is worried more than pruitt, when you guys come to the eye of the storm, you will see that this class 1AA is serious.

cane fan

December 2nd, 2009
2:37 pm

I also believe calhoun is going to wax those lovett lions, lovett peaked to early,

calhoun 35
lovett 14

PROSKILLpat

December 2nd, 2009
2:39 pm

I look for a close game Fri. between us and Newnan. They are physical and have some game stopping players, especially in Mr. Ogeltree. Im going to go out on a limb and say we, (NSWR), can establish a running game on Newnan. It is going to be fun to watch. 17-14 NSWR

packerfan31322

December 2nd, 2009
2:42 pm

I hope yall (nswr) do win and my packers it will show how strong this division is

Jefferson

December 2nd, 2009
2:49 pm

I’m hoping Calhoun plays next week, they have the talent but still have to win… I thought we were past the speed after Jefferson County, but if its Fitz it will be a battle. Battle of the unbeatens would be the best matchup.

randy prosen

December 2nd, 2009
2:50 pm

EW Did Colquitt play Camden and I’m not aware? You said that they have seen our offense. They are going to get a real good look at it Friday night.

packerfan31322

December 2nd, 2009
2:54 pm

randy,sorry to be the one to tell ya this but Colquitt is no Beach,Groves or Savannah High,get ready for some real football

topper

December 2nd, 2009
2:59 pm

packerfan31322 – We will see Friday night! Have a safe trip Camden14 Colquitt 10….

A Local Fan

December 2nd, 2009
3:04 pm

Camden and Newnan will meet for the AAAAA title
Sandy Creek and Clarke Central will meet for the AAAA title
Gainesville and Peach County will meet for the AAA title
Calhoun and Fitzgerald will meet for the AA title
Savannah Christian and Wilcox County will meet for the A title

Take it to the bank!

topper

December 2nd, 2009
3:05 pm

packerfan31322 -”Camden comes from a weak division,Colquitt on the other hand comes from a division where almost any team could make the playoffs.If they play mistake free ball on offense its gonna be a long nite for them wildcats”

Isn’t that the same region Lowndes came from who Camden beat 10-7? And Colquitt lost to 31-6?

packerfan31322

December 2nd, 2009
3:06 pm

I agree with you Local fan except the AAAAA -NSWR and COLQUITT

jaberwocky

December 2nd, 2009
3:06 pm

Neither was Lowndes. How did you guys do against Lowneds? You need to check our record against Region 1 which is like the SEC to a degree, but teams from the SEC get beat by teams from other conferences all the time.

packerfan31322

December 2nd, 2009
3:09 pm

yes but if you would have been at the Lowndes and Colquitt game you would know why i say Colquitt beats Camden.Colquitt moved the ball at will against Lowndes but made mistakes in the red zone ,like i said if Coluitt plays mistake free or close to it Colquitt wins

Auburn Packer

December 2nd, 2009
3:10 pm

The Colquitt-Camden game will not be close. Packers by 14

topper

December 2nd, 2009
3:15 pm

All I can say is we will see Friday night! I saw everyone on this sight saying Camden would lose to Lowndes and the to North Gwinette Didn’t happen. But this is why they play the game!

Andy

December 2nd, 2009
3:17 pm

I don’t know who will win this game in Kingsland Friday but, I know that Colquitt fans are saying the same thing Lowndes fans said, and North Gwinnett fans said, and last NS fans said and Newnan fans said and P. Ridge fans said, and before that Brookwood fans, Valdosta fans…I could go on.
how about lets see what the boys have to say about it friday night, hopefully it doesn’t rain to much so we can all have some fun.

topper

December 2nd, 2009
3:19 pm

Andy – I agree with you 100% . And yes lets hope the rain holds out!

Andy

December 2nd, 2009
3:20 pm

Also, I saw that the weather is getting rough up there I hope everyone getting hit by this storm is safe and I pray that your property stays dry.

Cats24

December 2nd, 2009
3:20 pm

Go Cats Go!!!! Camden will go Dome to Dome again this yeah!

The Champ of Camden

December 2nd, 2009
3:21 pm

Camden will win 21-10, the defense is too strong and the running game can’t be stopped! We will beat Newnan in the finals! Back to back champs!!!!!!!!

White Trash

December 2nd, 2009
3:23 pm

Colquitt fans, come on, do you really believe since Camden plays in a weak region that Colquitt will dominate. How much more does Camden need to do. Since 2002, Camden has won 25 out 30 playoff games and 3 out of 5 of the loses coming in the semi finals. This is not our first team we played from region 1AAAAA. Get with the program.. So far, I think you guys are the worst fans so far, all you guys do is talk trash, there has been one or two that respect the blog for what it is for.

packerfan31322

December 2nd, 2009
3:25 pm

it might be wet but us HAWGS love to play in the mud…Looking forward to friday nite

White Trash

December 2nd, 2009
3:29 pm

Colquitt fans, just FYI, this quote came from the N. Gwinnett Head Coach after the game.

“They’re tough. They kept us off balance,” said Sphire. “We’ve got a good team, and they throttled us. Camden County is the bell cow in Georgia as far as [high school] football programs go. They do it 100-percent right. They’ve got a plan, and they’re organized.”

FAN

December 2nd, 2009
3:30 pm

BUFORD 28
FITZ 14

Auburn Packer

December 2nd, 2009
3:32 pm

Everybody knows that I’m HOG WILD!!!!!

packerfan31322

December 2nd, 2009
3:35 pm

you can hear us play for a country mile….

packerfan31322

December 2nd, 2009
3:37 pm

come on auburn dont leave me hangin

Auburn Packer

December 2nd, 2009
3:41 pm

Cause everbody knows that I’m hogwild

Guwinster

December 2nd, 2009
3:49 pm

The Macon Telegraph is claiming the GHSA realignment came out a couple of hours ago. They only posted results for Macon area schools though. When will the all the realignment results be posted?

Auburn Packer

December 2nd, 2009
3:52 pm

oops! They all know we were born hog wild!!!!

topper

December 2nd, 2009
3:53 pm

Guwinster – Good question I would like that answer too!

Auburn Packer

December 2nd, 2009
3:55 pm

I sure hope that pretty stadium in Kingsland is ready for some rootin!!!

Viking Slayer

December 2nd, 2009
4:18 pm

Colquitt’s back in the hunt but let’s hope the Pack don’t get taken to the processing plant. Camden’s got to be favored in this contest. They simply know how to win. They beat NSWR last year and Lowndes this year. It don’t get tougher than that – maybe Newnan.

But never underestimate the Pack. I make 21-10 if Camden plays regular Cat football ’cause it’s in Kingsland. However, if Pack defense steps up big, then all bets are off. This is a different Pack team from the one that played Lowndes earler in the season.

Pack Man

December 2nd, 2009
4:20 pm

I love the hotdogs at that country store on Hwy 133 in Berlin.

Auburn Packer

December 2nd, 2009
4:26 pm

Viking Slayer,

There is no processing plant in Kingsland. Therefore, Be prepared for some good old fashioned rootin!!! Kingsland is a nice little town but those baby blue and navy uniforms are not prepared for a golden herd of hungry boar hogs from the hog pen!!!!

JayJay

December 2nd, 2009
4:33 pm

Colquitt has a really good team. Hope Camden can pull it out. Can’t wait for the game!!

JUSTME

December 2nd, 2009
4:34 pm

Auburn Packer -”Kingsland is a nice little town but those baby blue and navy uniforms are not prepared for a golden herd of hungry boar hogs from the hog pen!!!!”

You shouldn’t talk about your cheerleaders that way!

topper

December 2nd, 2009
4:42 pm

Enter your comments here

Auburn Packer

December 2nd, 2009
4:45 pm

Justme,

I came through Kingsland a few weeks ago and saw the Camden cheerleaders and I must say that I did not know that working on those nuclear subs could possibly cause birth defects to the degree these poor girls had. Radioactivity is not good when you are planning on having beauty queens!

haha

December 2nd, 2009
4:52 pm

auburn packer.

haha that was honestly the lamest thing i have ever seen. i guess we are in middle school and talking about radio activity making our cheerleaders ugly?