AAA playoff preview: Five facts from each first-round game

Each day this week, we’ll look at the playoff draw for one of the five classifications above Class A, continuing today with Class AAA. Here are five interesting facts about each of the 16 games, with an emphasis on playoff history. Which player can set a prestigious career state record this week? Find out below.

Favorite: Thomson

Best draw: Peach County

Worst draw: Cedar Grove

Sleeper: St. Pius

Best first-round matchup: Woodward Academy at North Hall

Dodge Co. (5-5) at Carver-Columbus (9-1)

- Carver had only one playoff win in its history until 2006, coach Dell McGee’s second season. That victory – a 21-7 win over Valdosta in 1987 – stands as one of the most memorable upsets in state history.

- Under McGee, Carver is 19-5 in the state playoffs and has reached the quarterfinals or better each of the past six seasons. Carver won a Class AAA championship in 2007.

- This will be Dodge County’s first playoff appearance since 2007. Dodge’s best finishes are the quarterfinals in 1976, 1995 and 1999.

- Dodge has never won a state playoff game on the road, although it did win a region playoff game at Perry in 1993 when the state playoffs were 16-team draws.

- Dodge County is 32nd in scoring offense (23.5) and 14th in scoring defense (17.7) against a schedule that is ranked 17th among 60 teams in Class AAA. Carver is 16th in scoring (33.3) and fourth in scoring defense (11.2) against a schedule that is 13th.

Rockmart (5-5) at Appling County (8-1-1)

- Appling County reached the Class AA semifinals in 2011 as a No. 2 seed, losing to eventual champion Calhoun 51-14. Appling is a No. 2 seed again this season.

- Rockmart is looking for its first playoff victory since 1988, when the northwest Georgia school beat Turner of Atlanta in the Class AA quarterfinals. Rockmart is 0-6 in the playoffs since, making it most recently in 2010.

- Rockmart won a state title in 1950 and reached the finals in 1954 and 1957. Appling’s best finishes are semifinals in 2011, 1999 and 1992.

- This is the first meeting between these schools. Rockmart’s road trip of 252 miles and 4 hours, 27 minutes is one of only four that should last much longer than 2 ½ hours. Johnson’s trip to Chapel Hill from Savannah and Central’s trip to Pierce County from Carrollton are longer.

- Rockmart is 27th in scoring offense (26.7) and 31st in scoring defense (23.7) against a schedule that is ranked 43rd among 60 teams in Class AAA. Appling County is ninth in scoring (36.0) and 27th in scoring defense (22.1) against a schedule that is 48th.

Ringgold (6-4) at North Oconee (9-1)

- Ringgold has played varsity football each season since 1949 but is 0-5 in playoff games, losing most recently in 2009 to North Hall.

- Three of Ringgold’s four losses this season are by two points or less to Dalton, Gordon Central and Adairsville. The other is to Cartersville 42-7.

- North Oconee has won its only region titles in history in 2011 and 2012. The school opened as Oconee County’s second public high school in 2004. This is the first meeting between these schools.

- North Oconee has qualified for the state playoffs for the fifth consecutive season. The Titans are 3-1 in the first round but 0-3 in the second.

- Ringgold is 21st in scoring offense (29.9) and 21st in scoring defense (19.1) against a schedule that is ranked 20th among 60 teams in Class AAA. North Oconee is sixth in scoring (39.4) and seventh in scoring defense (13.7) against a schedule that is 47th.

Cedar Grove (6-4) at Buford (7-3)

- Cedar Grove QB Johnathon McCrary needs 305 yards to break the state record for passing yards in a career. He has 8,758. The record is 9,062 held by Zach Stanford of Metter. McCrary needs 41 yards to break the DeKalb County record held by M.L. King’s Jonquel Dawson.

- With McCrary at quarterback, Cedar Grove has made the playoffs each of the past three seasons after breaking a 11-year drought. The school’s best finish is the 1991 Class AA final against Cartersville. Cedar Grove made the Class A semifinals in 1976.

- Buford is 51-5 in the playoffs since 2000 with seven state championships. Buford has won 13 consecutive first-round games (most recent defeat in 1997 to Manchester) and 16 straight home playoff games (most recent defeat in 2006 to Charlton County). Buford has won 35 straight home playoff games when not facing Charlton County.

- Cedar Grove is 18th in scoring offense (32.4) and 16th in scoring defense (17.9) against a schedule that is ranked 14th among 60 teams in Class AAA. Buford is third in scoring (42.4) and first in scoring defense (6.1) against a schedule that is 41st.

- Cedar Grove’s road trip of 44 miles and 59 minutes is the shortest of any AAA playoff team this week. This is the first meeting between these metro Atlanta schools.

Jackson (6-4) at Thomson (10-0)

- These schools also met in the first round of the 2008 playoffs. Jackson entered 10-0, but Thomson won 28-14. This time Thomson is 10-0.

- Thomson is ranked No. 1 entering the playoffs for the fifth time. Thomson also was ranked No. 1 in 1965, 1968 (won state), 1969 and 2002 (won state). Thomson was ranked No. 2 entering the playoffs during their state championship seasons of 1967, 1984 and 1985.

- Jackson is back in the playoffs after a two-year absence. Jackson hasn’t gone three years without making the playoffs since 1994-96 although it didn’t win its first state playoff game until 2000. Since then, Jackson is 9-8 in the playoffs and made the semifinals in 2000.

- Jackson head coach Mike Parris, a Stone Mountain High graduate, is the one of the two longest-tenured head coaches in the AAA playoffs. The other is Frank Barden of Cartersville. Both are in their 17th seasons as head coaches at their schools.

- Jackson is 34th in scoring offense (23.0) and 15th in scoring defense (17.8) against a schedule that is ranked 16th among 60 teams in Class AAA. Thomson is 17th in scoring (33.3) and 22nd in scoring defense (20.0) against a schedule that is first.

Johnson-Savannah (4-6) at Chapel Hill (6-4)

- Johnson has played only one other game in metro Atlanta since desegregation, and that was against Newnan in 2008. Johnson played Carver and Harper in Atlanta during the 1950s and 1960s when those schools were members of the Georgia Interscholastic Association. Johnson and Chapel Hill have never met.

- Chapel Hill’s only playoff victory is against a Savannah school. Chapel Hill beat Windsor Forest 23-12 in the 2008 first round. Johnson’s only playoff victory also is against a Savannah school. Johnson beat Savannah High 17-14 in a 1992 region playoff. Johnson has never won a state playoff game.

- Geoff Pastrick of Chapel Hill is the only first-year coach in Class AAA to lead his team to a home first-round playoff game.

- Johnson has the longest road trip of any AAA playoff team in terms of miles, at 266, according to Google Maps. But because of the U.S. Interstate system, Johnson should arrive in 4 hours, 32 minutes, about a half hour ahead of Pierce County’s 5:05 trip to Central of Carroll County, which entails more highway driving over 265 miles.

- Johnson is 45th in scoring offense (17.6) and 33rd in scoring defense (23.8) against a schedule that is ranked 28th among 60 teams in Class AAA. Chapel Hill is 31st in scoring (23.8) and 30th in scoring defense (22.7) against a schedule that is 36th.

Jackson County (6-4) at Cartersville (10-0)

- Cartersville and Jackson County have never played each other, but Cartersville played Jefferson or Commerce in region championship games each year from 1972 to 1979 before Jackson County became the third high school in the county in 1980. Cartersville was 1-1 against Jefferson and 1-5 against Commerce in those championship games. The new school effectively has kept Jefferson and Commerce in lower classifications than Cartersville for the past 30 years, and this will be Cartersville’s first game with a school from Jackson County since 1981.

- Benji Harrison of Jackson County is one of three AAA coaches to lead his team into the playoffs in his first season. The others are William DeVane of Hart County and Geoff Pastrick of Chapel Hill.

- Jackson County is playing in its first state playoff game in history. Jackson County has played in four region playoff games before the GHSA expanded the state playoffs to 32 teams in 2006.

- Jackson County is 24th in scoring offense (27.6) and 38th in scoring defense (26.8) against a schedule that is ranked 31st among 60 teams in Class AAA. Cartersville is fourth in scoring (41.9) and fifth in scoring defense (11.4) against a schedule that is 18th.

White County (7-3) at Blessed Trinity (8-2)

- This game will be the only rematch of a regular-season contest in the AAA first round. Blessed Trinity beat White County 21-19 on Sept. 21.

- White County is 20th in scoring offense (31.1) and 25th in scoring defense (21.5) against a schedule that is ranked 52nd among 60 teams in Class AAA. Blessed Trinity is 26th in scoring (26.8) and 11th in scoring defense (16.5) against a schedule that is ninth.

- White County, which opened in 1956, has won one state playoff game in its history, a 28-20 victory in the first round of 2010, when Cole Segraves was White’s quarterback. Segraves is now a quarterback for Colquitt County. White won a region playoff game in 1983.

- White County coach Bill Ballard can get his 100th victory in this game. He won 53 at Tucker (2002-06) and 36 at Peachtree Ridge (2007-10). This is his first game in metro Atlanta since leaving Peachtree Ridge. He is a native of DeKalb County.

- Blessed Trinity, which began football in 2001, has won one playoff game in its history, a 44-19 victory over Heard County in the 2011 first round.

Central-Carroll (5-5) at Pierce County (9-1)

- Pierce County has won back-to-back region championships for the first time in its history. Pierce also won titles in 1982 and 1995.

- Central won state championships in Class AA in 1986 and 1987 under coach Ronnie Burchfield. Central is 2-9 in the postseason since then. Pierce is looking for its first playoff victory since 2002, a 35-21 win over Albany in the Class AA second round. Pierce’s best finishes are quarterfinals in 1982 and 2002.

- Central has the longest road trip of any AAA playoff team in terms of time spent on the bus, at 5 hours, 5 minutes, according to Google Maps. But Central’s trip is the second-longest in terms of mileage at 265 miles. Central and Pierce have never played each other.

- Both teams have second-year coaches who have turned around struggling programs. Pierce has gone 8-2 and 9-1 under Sean Pender after going 2-8 and 2-8 the previous two seasons. Central was 0-10 in 2010 but is 4-6 and 5-5 under Grant Chesnut, who could earn the school’s best finish since 2005 (7-5) with a victory.

- Central is 38th in scoring offense (21.1) and 20th in scoring defense (18.6) against a schedule that is ranked 35th among 60 teams in Class AAA. Pierce County is seventh in scoring (39.2) and 23rd in scoring defense (20.4) against a schedule that is 55th.

Jefferson Co. (4-6) at Peach County (9-1)

- Peach County is 27-6 over the past 10 seasons in the playoffs and won state titles in 2005, 2006 and 2009. Peach is 7-2 in the first round and 19-3 at home in that span.

- Ranked No. 5, Peach will be Jefferson County’s fourth opponent that is ranked in the top five. Jefferson County has lost to No. 4 Fitzgerald of AA and No. 4 Washington County and No. 1 Thomson of AAA.

- Without an upset, Jefferson County will suffer its first losing season since 2003 (4-6-1).

- Jefferson County opened in 1995 upon the consolidation of Wrens and Louisville high schools. JeffCo, as it often is called, won its first state playoff game in 2007 and had its best finish in 2009, the Class AA quarterfinals.

- Jefferson County is 43rd in scoring offense (17.8) and 24th in scoring defense (20.6) against a schedule that is ranked third among 60 teams in Class AAA. Peach County is 10th in scoring (35.3) and second in scoring defense (10.5) against a schedule that is eighth.

Woodward Academy (7-3) at North Hall (8-2)

- North Hall won its fourth region title this season. The others came in 2004, 2006 and 2007, also in Region 7-AAA. This title was made possible by two forfeits assessed to Buford, which finished 5-2 in region play to North Hall’s 6-1.

- North Hall has won seven consecutive home playoff games. Its most recent loss came in 2004 to Washington County. Woodward Academy has lost 19 of its last 21 road playoff games dating to 1983.

- Woodward Academy has won its first-round game and lost its second-round game in each of its last five trips to the playoffs (2003, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011).

- Woodward is 23rd in scoring offense (28.0) and sixth in scoring defense (12.5) against a schedule that is ranked 10th among 60 teams in Class AAA. North Hall is second in scoring (42.6) and ninth in scoring defense (14.9) against a schedule that is 40th.

- This is the first meeting between these schools.

Gordon Central (8-2) at Morgan Co. (8-2)

- Gordon Central is looking for its first playoff victory since 1995 (a 41-20 win over Westminster). Gordon Lee is 0-5 in the playoffs since then.

- Morgan County is looking for its first playoff victory since 2005 (a 17-10 win over Greater Atlanta Christian).

- A victory will give Gordon Central its first nine-win season since 1995 (10-3). A victory will give Morgan County its first nine-win season since 2003 (10-2).

- Morgan County is playing only its second home playoff game since 2004. The other came in 2007 (when GAC avenged its 2005 loss). Gordon Central has never had a home playoff game.

- Gordon Central is fifth in scoring offense (39.7) and 10th in scoring defense (16.2) against a schedule that is ranked 46th among 60 teams in Class AAA. Morgan County is 12th in scoring (34.9) and 13th in scoring defense (17.5) against a schedule that is 57th.

- This is the first meeting between these schools.

Tattnall County (5-5) at Callaway (9-1)

- A victory would give Callaway its third 10-win season in five years. The school, which opened in 1996, did not have a 10-win season before coach Michael Wiggins arrived in 2005.

- Callaway lost its first seven first-round playoff games until breaking through in 2008. Callaway’s best finish was the Class AA quarterfinals in 2009.

- Tattnall County has won two state playoff games (1996, 2010). The Battle Creek Warriors are seeking their first road playoff victory.

- Tattnall County is 15th in scoring offense (33.6) and 37th in scoring defense (25.9) against a schedule that is ranked 54th among 60 teams in Class AAA. Callaway is 14th in scoring (34.2) and eighth in scoring defense (14.0) against a schedule that is 33rd.

- Tattnall County’s road trip of 208 miles and 4 hours, 13 minutes is one of only three that should last much longer than two and a half hours. Johnson’s trip to Chapel Hill from Savannah, Central’s trip to Pierce County from Carrollton and Rockmart’s trip to Appling County are longer. This is the first meeting between these schools.

Pike County (6-4) at Washington Co. (9-1)

- Washington County is 32-3 all-time at home in the postseason. The only losses were to Early County (1980 quarterfinal), Mitchell-Baker (1998 first round) and North Forsyth (2001 quarterfinal). The Golden Hawks have won 11 consecutive home playoff games.

- Washington County is 1-5 in the playoffs since reaching its last semifinal in 2006. The school reached the semifinals nine times from 1992 to 2006 and won titles in 1994, 1996 and 1997.

- Pike County is looking for its first playoff victory. The school, which began varsity football in 1971, has qualified in 1993, 2004 and 2008.

- Pike County is 40th in scoring offense (19.7) and 26th in scoring defense (21.8) against a schedule that is ranked 12th among 60 teams in Class AAA. Washington County is first in scoring (42.7) and 19th in scoring defense (18.3) against a schedule that is second.

- This is the first meeting between these schools.

Dawson County (6-4) at St. Pius (8-2)

- Dawson County is 1-4 all-time in the postseason. The Tigers beat Trion in a first-round game in 1999, when the school was playing in Class A. St. Pius won a Class AA championship in 1968, then failed to win another playoff game until 2003.

- Paul Standard, the only coach in the AAA playoffs working at his alma mater, is 11-9 in the playoffs since becoming St. Pius’ head coach in 2001. St. Pius has made the quarterfinals or better four times in that time.

- Dawson County is 11th in scoring offense (35.3) and 29th in scoring defense (22.6) against a schedule that is ranked 51st among 60 teams in Class AAA. St. Pius is 19th in scoring (31.5) and third in scoring defense (10.9) against a schedule that is fourth.

- This is the first meeting between these schools.

- Dawson County’s road trip of 53 miles and 1 hour, 2 minutes, per Google Maps, is the second-shortest in the AAA first round behind Cedar Grove at Buford.

Hart County (5-5) at Adairsville (7-3)

- Hart County is back in the playoffs after a rare miss in 2011. Hart hasn’t missed the postseason otherwise since 1991. Hart has lost four consecutive first-round playoff games.

- This is Adairsville’s first home playoff game since 2003. Adairsville has won five playoff games since 2000 after years of struggle.

- Adairsville holds a little-known state record as being the only school to lose four straight state championship games (1969-72). Calhoun lost three straight before beating Buford in the Class AA final last season.

- Hart County’s William DeVane is one of three AAA coaches to lead his team into the playoffs in his first season. The others are Benji Harrison at Jackson County and Geoff Pastrick of Chapel Hill. This is actually DeVane’s fourth season as Hart’s coach – he led the Bulldogs to a 38-3 record 1999 to 2001.

- Hart County is 29th in scoring offense (25.5) and 28th in scoring defense (22.5) against a schedule that is ranked 22nd among 60 teams in Class AAA. Adairsville is eighth in scoring (36.8) and 42nd in scoring defense (29.0) against a schedule that is 23rd.

Produced by Georgia High School Football Daily, a free e-mail newsletter. To join the mailing list, click here.

11 comments Add your comment

NoDistrictLineInDekalb

November 15th, 2012
8:11 am

Go Cedar Grove !

Appling County Pirate Fan

November 15th, 2012
9:36 am

This is why so many people are so upset with GHSA, because of scheduling first round playoffs so far away for teams. Get it together Atlanta before you have another split of schools. We need more representation for these southern teams. Money is tight for all schools. Wake up GHSA and do better planning than this. Hope and pray for safe travel for all teams, and so for rockmart look forward to having you here in appling co.

Jefferson

November 15th, 2012
9:55 am

Split to where ?

What ?

November 15th, 2012
10:59 am

Why isn’t Worth County at Stockbridge listed as AAA game ?

What ?

November 15th, 2012
11:01 am

My bad these teams are AAAA not AAA.

rockmart ga. yellow jacket fan

November 15th, 2012
11:13 am

you guys did a great job on this preview,rockmart has not won a state playoff game since 1988, i know because i was there,anyway great job guys,

Jefferson

November 15th, 2012
11:59 am

Appling had a tough time in Calhoun last year, after the game was lost they had some player issues and fans drove home mad. Things happen.

greenchikinfarmer

November 15th, 2012
4:02 pm

Uh…Upset appling fan the GHSA is not in Atlanta. It is in South Georgia…..Any teams that want to leave the GHSA are more than welcome to leave. Try that GISA travel schedule on for size…

OLD MAN

November 15th, 2012
9:22 pm

hart co plays with dresses on; lose by 35 pts

BullDawg Rick

November 15th, 2012
11:03 pm

Buford goes for 5 N 6!!!!

OLD MAN has dementia

November 16th, 2012
11:04 am

Hart co. WINS by 35