Jeff Haws’ Top 10 List

Well, it’s that time of year again. The time ever high school football fan dreams of. The playoffs start this week.

Yeah, I know. We can’t believe it either. But the calendar doesn’t lie. Not usually, anyway. We’ve always been suspicious of Leap Years, ourselves.

But we digress …

So, we’ve been busy the past several days doing pretty much nothing but obsessing over the brackets, talking about all the games we want to see and trying to fill out a bracket that’s better than the one we did in March, when we picked the NCAA Tournament based upon which mascot would beat the other in a fistfight.

Of course, some teams have a tougher road than others on their way to the title, and we’re going to mix it up just a bit this week on The List. Instead of a straight top 10, we’ll be looking at the five toughest and five easiest playoff draws for top-10 teams.

Toughest Draws

5. Class AA No. 4 Fitzgerald

If it happens, it could be one of the best second-round matchups, with Fitzgerald traveling to No. 3 Vidalia. It would be nice for fans, but it doesn’t do much for the state title hopes of the Purple Hurricanes. And that’s only if they get by an eight-win Northeast Macon team that played playoff team Bleckley County tough last week. Get through all that, and No. 7 Jefferson likely awaits in the quarters.

4. Class AAAAAA No. 4 North Gwinnett

If the Bulldogs are going to make another deep playoff run, they’ll have earned it. No. 3 and former national No. 1 Grayson is likely to be their host in the second round, if they survive a first-round matchup with a Johns Creek team that’s won eight games by an average of nearly 20 points. If they get through that, they’ll likely be rewarded with a run-in with No. 7 Lovejoy or No. 6 Lowndes – and a possible long road trip – in the quarters.

3. Class AAAAA No. 8 Flowery Branch

Flowery Branch finished with eight straight wins after starting 0-2, but the bracket gods were unimpressed, sticking them on the same side of the bracket as No. 1 Northside-Warner Robins, No. 5 Tucker and former top-five team Thomas County Central. Heck, first-round opponent North Paulding isn’t even your typical No. 4 seed, winning seven games and scoring 37 or more points six times.

2. Class AAA No. 8 North Oconee

Ringgold doesn’t look too terribly difficult in the first round, but it goes downhill from there for the Titans. Don’t let Buford’s 7-3 record fool you. Two of those losses were forfeits of 63-0 and 61-0 wins. The only real loss was by four points to Class AAAAA Gainesville. This is still Buford, and the Wolves would probably play the Titans in the second round. If North Oconee gets by those two, No. 2 Carver-Columbus would probably await.

1. Class AAAA No. 5 Griffin

Griffin is one of three top-10 teams on its side of the bracket, and the Bears are staring at the toughest road of all of them. They’ll start with a seven-win Monroe team that’s won five of its last six. If they win, they’ll likely get to travel to No. 3 Burke County, who has won nine straight after dropping the opener. If they somehow survive that, they’ll probably get the pleasure of facing off with undefeated No. 1 Sandy Creek.

Easiest Draws

5. Class AAAAAA No. 5 Camden County

The Wildcats may have lost their undefeated record last week, but don’t let that fool you. This should be a simple walk to at least the quarters. They won’t face a team with more than six wins until then, when they’d be likely to see No. 2 Norcross, the only team that has beaten five AAAAAA playoff squads this season.

4. Class AA No. 6 Heard County

For Heard, there’s just one other long-time top-10 team lurking on its side of the bracket, as No. 9 GAC would be the likely second-round matchup. And it’s possible they could see newly minted No. 10 Screven County in the quarters, ranked for the first time in eight years. But outside that, this bracket is potentially there for the taking for the undefeated Braves, who are looking for their first semifinal appearance in school history.

3. Class AAAAA No. 7 Warner Robins

The toughest team on their side of the bracket is No. 4 Kell, but the Demons won’t see the Longhorns until the quarterfinals, if at all. Before that, they’ll get a Richmond Hill team that has played the second-easiest schedule in AAAAA. Then, if they win, it’ll be either Harris County or Northgate, neither of whom has won more than six.

2. Class AAAA No. 7 Cairo

Somebody was looking out for the Syrupmakers. The only other top-10 team on their side of the bracket is No. 9 Ridgeland, and even the Raiders are on the other half. They’ll see some solid teams before that in Riverdale and, if they win, either Mary Persons or Statesboro, but those games should be winnable. And a sixth straight quarterfinal appearance looks in the cards for Cairo.

1. Class AAA No. 5 Peach County

The Trojans spent all season at No. 1 until losing to No. 2 Carver-Columbus in their ninth game. Remember, though, this is still the team considered AAA’s best all season, and this bracket looks like a walk. First-round opponent Jefferson County is under .500. Barring a major upset, they’ll then see 5-5 Central Carrollton or a Pierce County team that’s only beaten two teams with a winning record. After that, North Hall could be all that would stand between them and the semifinals. Not a single ranked team in the bunch.

And now we want to know what you think. Who has the toughest and easiest path to the semifinals? Do you like to see your team have a clear road, or do you want it to be tested? Is there any chance Peach County doesn’t make its way through? Really? Let us know in the comments here or on Twitter at @ajcprepsports.

13 comments Add your comment

sportsnut

November 14th, 2012
9:11 am

Although they were weak, Norcross is not the only team to beat 5 playoff teams. Lovejoy beat 5. No boast, just a correction.

Phat Tater

November 14th, 2012
10:10 am

OMG sportsnut, you will have your shot against Lowndes next week. Then you can prove how good you are. Face it, you did well in 4A last year when your school had 5A numbers. Other than that you played 9 scrimmages. Your region stinks.

Jeff Haws

November 14th, 2012
11:14 am

Sorry about the mixup, guys. I was looking at the next-to-last week’s rankings instead of the final ones. So I got those corrected for this week. Carry on …

Graydog

November 14th, 2012
12:01 pm

I would like to see Coach Herron let the Camden County Wildcat’s offense roll . He seems to have had his foot on the brakes most of the season,or, the underclassmen take over.Whenever they take the muzzle off. It may become football like we haven’t seen this season.

sportsnut

November 14th, 2012
12:24 pm

Cold it be that that is all there is ? He is the coach afterall. I’m sure if he had reason to do more , he would. Unless, like I said, he may not feel comfortable trying to do more than he is because he is not as confident using something other than what he is sure of. If it is not broken, why fix it.

sportsnut

November 14th, 2012
12:35 pm

@ Phat Tater == You need to do more research. Fact is, Lovejoy was changing classes when others were changing regions. Our numbers have fluctuated over the years and we have played up when our numbers were down. Lovejoy opened in the highest class in 90′ Seven of the past 11 years, Lovejoy has been in the highest class. They are 47-29 during that time. Who’s your team, the Spuds of Podunk ?

sportsnut

November 14th, 2012
12:37 pm

The 47-29 indicates the record in the largest class alltime.

Bear_Backer

November 15th, 2012
9:17 am

Griffin gets the raw deal yet again. Brutal, just brutal.

Graydog

November 15th, 2012
12:05 pm

No, Sportsnut, that is not all there is. If it doesn’t happen it is a coaching issue. There is an embarrassing amount of talent on this Camden team. Speed, power, endurance, running game ,passing game, stonewall defense, we have no excuse….Perhaps time will reveal all.

sportsnut

November 15th, 2012
1:33 pm

@ Graydog == Still he is the coach. Do you not think he would use it if he felt he needed it ? I have heard how good a coach he is and his record proves it, maybe. There have been instances where the kids won despite of the coaching. Talent can do that. As long as they have been taught the basic’s of the game, they could conceivably win games on talent alone.This could be the issue here. Al;l the kids know how to play. Each kid knows what his job is. A good Qb, which calls for not only skill but intellegence, could determine what needs to be done and call a play. The same goes for a linebacker. If he is wise to many types of offense, he could set the D for a play. Then again, a personal experience with the alternative. Druid Hills is the smallest or one of the smallest schools in 6A and has a new coach who is trying to build. He has a couple seniors and a 9th grade class that has played together for 5 years in park ball and they all know the game. To start the year, there were 12 of them, now 5. They have left because the coach does not know what he had, even though he recognized the potential. Did not want to use the kids, only the upper classmen. So you see, sometimes the coach has a personality that will not allow him to use all that he has even though he knows what he has. In the case at DHHS, they fell to Rockdale 18-14 for the final spot. Those kids that left, they will end up at Tucker, Stephenson,MLK or SWD.

Bird Dog Bear

November 15th, 2012
8:54 pm

Bottom line on any rankings, what team is in the best shape in mind, body, and soul will be the winner. The winner has to take the same path everyone esle does. Sometimes just wanting something more, having more passion about getting it, makes all the difference. Remeber the U.S.A Hockey team? Good luck to all. GOOO BEARS!!

Jefferson

November 19th, 2012
9:28 am

Since Valdosta and Loundes are history, ancient at that. What about the winningest teams since the turn of the century, present not the past.

why not

November 19th, 2012
7:38 pm

Heard County has beat 6 playoff teams. How bout some love?