Playoff primer: Quick look at top teams, players, story lines in all classes

The regular season was nice to Lassiter. The 30-year-old East Cobb school finished 10-0 earned its first No. 1 state ranking.

Now, the real fun begins. The playoffs start Friday and Saturday with 80 first-round games statewide in five classifications, and Lassiter is bringing in extra bleachers for its Class AAAAAA opener with Brookwood.

‘’As soon as one season is over, you start planning for the next one in January, and then you work 10 ½ months just to get to tonight,’’ said Lassiter coach Jep Irwin. “You’re just grateful for the chance to win a game or two, or if you get enough breaks and you’re good enough, maybe you can go all the way.’’

This is the first of five weekends that will culminate with seven championship games played at the Georgia Dome on Dec. 14-15.  The Class A playoffs – which will be split into public- and private-school divisions for the first time – will begin next week.

Here is a closer look at the playoffs in each classification that is playing this weekend:

AAAAAA

Best team: No. 3 Grayson. Since its shocking 22-7 defeat to Parkview on Sept. 14, the 2011 Class AAAAA champion has won seven straight games by an average score of 48-7. Lassiter (10-0) and Norcross (10-0) are undefeated, and Lowndes (9-1) and Camden County (9-1) are perennial forces with which to be reckoned.

Best first-round game: Colquitt County at McEachern. Colquitt, ranked No. 9, is a heck of a No. 4 seed. The Packers are 8-2 in road playoff games over the past three seasons while reaching the semifinals or better each time. Region 4’s champion, McEachern, is unranked, but a winner of eight straight games.

Best player: DE Robert Nkemdiche, Grayson. The nation’s consensus No. 1 recruit hasn’t put up the numbers (only four sacks) he did a year ago, but few opponents would say he’s not the most imposing force on the field in any game he plays. Also watch for QB Eddie Printz, Lassiter; CB/HB J.J. Green, Camden County; DE Carl Lawson, Milton; and RB Alvin Kamara, Norcross. Walton RB Tyren Jones, a preseason AJC Super 11 choice and formerly the leading candidate for state player of the year, is out with a knee injury against Parkview.

Best tidbit: The top quarter of the draw contains four of the top seven teams in the Top 10: No. 3 Grayson, No. 4 North Gwinnett, No. 6 Lowndes and No. 7 Lovejoy.

AAAAA

Best team: Northside-Warner Robins. Northside is 33-2 under third-year coach Kevin Kinsler and lost to eventual champion Tucker 17-16 in the 2011 Class AAAA quarterfinals. Also undefeated are M.L. King (10-0) and East Paulding (10-0), each seeing their first state title.

Best first-round game: Tucker at Creekview. Tucker finished third behind M.L. King and Stephenson in powerful Region 6, meaning its bid for a second straight state title (and third in six seasons) begins on the road. Creekview, a Cherokee County school that opened in 2006, has never won a playoff game but is 9-1.

Best player: QB Deshaun Watson, Gainesville. A junior who is committed to Clemson, Watson has passed for 2,598 yards and 33 touchdowns. Also watch for RB Kamani Thomas, East Paulding; WR Keshun Hill, Northside; DB Brendan Langley, Kell; and QB Adam Choice, Thomas County Central.

Best tidbit: M.L. King and Stephenson are DeKalb County schools known for developing college prospects but flaming out in the playoffs. They continue their pursuit of the elusive state title after dropping down from the highest classification this year.

AAAA

Best team: Sandy Creek. The only unbeaten team in AAAA is riding a 52-3 wave over the past five seasons and is loaded with major D-1 prospects in CB Shaquille Wiggins (Georgia commit), OL Alan Knott (South Carolina) and WR Demarre Kitt (uncommitted).

Best first-round game: Dalton vs. Carver-Atlanta, Lakewood Stadium. Though neither is ranked, expect a close game that has some history. They’ve not played since 1967, when Dalton beat Carver 14-12 in Georgia’s first state championship game. Carver was the first former member of the Georgia Interscholastic Association,  the governing body for all-black schools during segregation, to make a GHSA football championship game.

Five best players: QB Donquell Green, Burke County. The junior from the 2011 Class AAA champion has rushed for 1,461 yards and scored 28 touchdowns while passing for 929 yards. Also watch for DB/WR Vonn Bell, Ridgeland; DB Shaquille Wiggins, Sandy Creek; and RB Chaz Thornton, Stephens County.

Best tidbit: Three of the top five teams in the Top 10 are in the same quarter of the draw and could match No. 3 Burke County against No. 5 Griffin in the second round with the winner to face No. 1 Sandy Creek in the quarterfinals.

AAA

Best team: Thomson. The Bulldogs are 10-0 and ranked No. 1. But Buford, Carver-Columbus and Peach County have more recent state championships.

Best first-round game: Cedar Grove at Buford. Cedar Grove QB Johnathon McCrary needs 305 yards to break the state record for passing yards in a career.

Best player: RB Chris Jordan, Thomson. Jordan has rushed for 1,780 yards and 18 touchdowns. Also watch for McCrary, WR Demarcus Robinson, Peach County; and QB William Walker, Washington County.

Best tidbit: Buford is seeded No. 2 in its region instead of No. 1 because of two forfeits for the inadvertent use of an ineligible player. That gave the Wolves a tougher draw and left preseason No. 1 Peach County without a ranked team in its quarter.

AA

Best team: Calhoun. The defending AA champion has won 63 of its last 66 games, losing three state finals to Buford, which is now in AAA. Brooks County (10-0) had an early-season upset of AAAAAA Valdosta.

Best first-round game: Cook at Lamar County. With 10 road playoff wins since 2000, Cook (7-3) is notorious as draw buster. Fifth-ranked Lamar (9-0-1) is coached by Franklin Stephens, who won a state title at Tucker last season.

Best player: Taylor Lamb, Calhoun. The nephew of head coach Hal Lamb has thrown for 2,364 yards and 25 touchdowns after leading the state with more than 3,500 passing yards in 2011. Also watch for QB Malcolm Parrish, Brooks County; RB/LB Juan Foster, Vidalia; and RB/DB Grant Haley, Lovett.

Best tidbit: No. 1 Calhoun and No. 2 Brooks County are seeded to play in the quarterfinals.

36 comments Add your comment

WOW!

November 15th, 2012
2:14 pm

MLK did not drop down from the highest classification, we are where we have been for the last three years!!!!

THE "CANNON RULES"!!

November 15th, 2012
2:34 pm

@ WOW!…

In case you missed it the STATE added a NEW AAAAAA classification this year for the FIRST TIME! Teams that were in AAAAA LAST year are AAAAAA this year UNLESS they drop DOWN as M.L.K. and STEPHENSON did, it’s all based on student enrollment (with a few exceptions).

That’s what Todd meant!

TICK…TICK…TICK…BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!!!
GO RAIDERS!!!
2012 REGION 5 AAAAA CHAMPIONS!…ON TO THE DOME!!!!

blu eagle

November 15th, 2012
2:54 pm

Poor Rick Tomberlin left Valdosta now in a different class, he looks up and OH CRAP, I gotta play NSWR again, thought those days were over. Good luck to all the teams this week, could be one and done for some of us!

NGHS 09

November 15th, 2012
3:13 pm

@ Todd…Why rank North Gwinnett so high if you won’t even mention them LOL???? That seems counter productive to me. Ranked high all season with no comments from you on any blog…sounds like you might consider NG to be your dark horse. Stranger things have happened

Golden Isles Fan

November 15th, 2012
3:47 pm

Region 1-6A will dismantle region 4 this Fri.

South Ga. football will rise again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Columbia Blue

November 15th, 2012
3:50 pm

I think region 4 has some very good teams this year. The reason they’re being overlooked somewhat is because they aren’t usually perennial powerhouses. I think Camden Colquitt and Valdosta will have hard fought games. I hope the Camden game is a blowout of course but I just don’t know

Fred

November 15th, 2012
3:55 pm

If you make it out of the top left in 6A, you will have accomplished something! (Actually, make it out of any quadrant on any classification and you will have accomplished something!)

Todd – Unless you are counting Colquitt’s loss in the championship game against Brookwood at the Dome as a non-road game, they are 8-3 over the past years. Clearly a major force to be reckoned with on the road!

JAB

November 15th, 2012
3:58 pm

I SAY REGION 6AAAAA RUN THE TABLES…

uncleJunior

November 15th, 2012
4:38 pm

I am certain that everyone knows that Stephenson and King was playing up into the old 5A. So technically they are not playing down, they are playing where they are suppose to be. I know it makes for a good discussion to say they are playing down, but what’s the real truth here. Well, either way. . . . . . .you still have to beat them!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

sportsnut

November 15th, 2012
4:41 pm

The upper left is loaded. The champ comes from there.

Oops

November 15th, 2012
6:21 pm

“Five Best Players” for 4A only has 4 names.

Longhorn nation

November 15th, 2012
7:52 pm

So what he say all teams they played last year are playing up a classification and the ones there playing this year are playing up .There for who cares you wasn’t good enough to play up. And ( JAB) one more day I’m sure you will be going to the BONEYARD next week end you mite actual make it to the second round for once HA HA

Columbia Blue

November 15th, 2012
7:59 pm

Evidently someone else has the same name as me (Columbia Blue). I did not post the above text. The play-offs mean that the best teams in Georgia get to prove why they get to play extra games. As far as Camden is concerned, we will not take anyone from granted. We will prepare each week as if we were playing a region 1 AAAAAA team. I do believe region 1 AAAAAA is by far the best region in the State. Grayson is a unbelievable great team.They have great coaching and great players; however, do not forget about the phantom call vs Colquitt last year on 4th down and forever. Was that truly a interference call? That one play basically clinched the State Championship for Grayson because no team from the other bracket had a chance to play with Colquitt, Grayson or Camden. I think Walton had a great team but not a team that could have beat any of the teams stated above. To win a state Championship you have to be really good, have a great deal of luck and great coaching. I want to say best of luck to everyone as we enter the play-offs.

itsonlywrite

November 15th, 2012
8:00 pm

lets go Big Red!!! #ELEPHANTNATION

King Of Diamonds

November 15th, 2012
8:52 pm

PLease Stop saying MLK & Stephenson playing down in this year classification. Both teams are in ther respectful classification. Another thing is I love where are the seeds are. it will be interesting to see which team gets upset first. Don’t be surprised if SWD makes it to the third round. I am not saying they will win it all, but I am saying they are a dangerous 4th seed. Don’t sleep on them. I think they will be on upset alert in the first round taking down the number 1 seed Kell. Tucker should meet NSWR in round 3. MLK should breeze through the first three rounds as well. Now here is my sleeper is Stephenson. Should win the first game. If Stephenson wins the second game could be on the verge for Tucker Stephenson matchup II in semi’s. Hmmm pretty interesting. Which number 1 seed will fall first you think? I think it might be KELL. Just my opinion.

sportsnut

November 15th, 2012
10:15 pm

I can tell by the absence of chatter that there are some nervous poster tonight. It’s about time. All this talk must now be backed up by the kids. All the teams here got here because they won enough. Some did not lose, some barely won. Yet, they are here. Friday will be great. No matter who wins or loses, this has been a good year for many teams. Good luck to all ,and may the best team win. Safe travels for those that have to and enjoy your Friday Night Football in Georgia, the Best High School Football in America.

Longhorn nation

November 15th, 2012
10:15 pm

Well I have to disagree the classification are a big different and that would explain your picks for Friday . Not saying SWD can’t win but the odds are against them we have just as much talent and I would have to say KELL is better coach and more disenplend team.

Fred

November 15th, 2012
11:02 pm

@Columbia Blue – Phantom PI call? Really? Couldn’t you at least find something from this year?

BROOKS COUNTY 2005

November 15th, 2012
11:52 pm

QB Malcolm Parrish, Brooks County stats is better than lamb stats

THE "CANNON RULES"!!

November 16th, 2012
7:46 am

Well the COUNTDOWN CLOCK is running down for all of us…12 hours to Kickoffs!!!

All this blogging fun we all been having MEANS NOTHING as the kids take over and the games actually get played! GOOD LUCK to everyone and may they all be safe played, injury free games tonight! Everyone also DRIVE SAFE!

Hard schedules, Easy schedules, pancake regions, they played nobody, we got more D-1 prospects than anybody, you’ve never won a State title, we never get any press coverage, best ball is played South of Macon, North of Macon, we have the biggest stadium, etc. All this means NOTHING at this point!!

In my opinion all the teams that made it to this step in the playoffs deserve to be where they are. These kids have worked hard all year to get this chance and as someone else posted, for many this will be the LAST time they ever suit up to play football.

Looking forward to see CLARKE CENTRAL tonight in “THE BONEYARD” as EAST PAULDING’s RAIDERS take the first step toward the DOME!

@ JAB…

Your games not until tomorrow night (STEPHENSON / POPE) so come on out to Dallas tonight and
see for yourself the hill STEPHENSON will have to climb NEXT week IF they get past POPE! Wear your STEPHENSON stuff and we’ll spot you (I am still rolling at your post “look for me at the POPE / STEPHENSON game…a good looking bald headed black guy, sitting around the 50 yd line…isn’t that like me saying meet me at a NASCAR race just look for a white dude under the Rebel Flag!..LOL!) I got plenty of BELLS, I’ll loan you one to ring for the RAIDERS!! Give you a chance to see “THE CANNON”!! up close! as it fires ALL NIGHT!!! I promise you’ll have a good time!

REGION 5 goes 2 / 2 TONIGHT! EAST & ALLATOONA win..NORTH loses a close one & ROME loses BIG!!
REGION 6 goes 2 / 2 TONIGHT! (could EASILY be only 1 / 3) M.L.K. & TUCKER win…STEPHENSON & S.W.D. lose! the WILDCARD game…TUCKER / CREEKVIEW, one bad turnover…one bad call…and CREEKVIEW pulls off the upset!

TICK…TICK…TICK…BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!!!
GO RAIDERS!!!
2012 REGION 5 AAAAA CHAMPIONS!…ON TO THE DOME!!!!

Dragstrip Road

November 16th, 2012
9:09 am

ha ha ha……….Cannon.

dekalbcounty football

November 16th, 2012
9:25 am

It is amazing to me that when people talk about MLK & Stephenson are palying “down” this year. NOBODY said a thing when they played “UP”! Please we know that both programs are great a it was about choices. MLK put in their appeal for AAAAAA, but it was submitted “late”?

King Of Diamonds

November 16th, 2012
10:02 am

@THE “CANNON RULES”!! You think Region6 5-A go 2/2? Really. I wouldn’t be surprised if they went 4-0 after this weekend. I most definately think SWD has an uphill climb with KELL, but if SWD keep it close don’t be surprised if Buck still has a trick or two up his sleeve. You mention Stephenson could lose to POPE, that is possible but I don’t see that happening. After this weekend Region 6 could be 4-0 or 3-1 That’s how I see it. Well anything can happen. Looking forward to to the games this weekend and good luck to all teams and may your team continue on the road to the championship.

Bigdawg1989

November 16th, 2012
10:06 am

Very nice @Cannon…I welcome @JAB to join us as well, I’ll even share the 50 yard line with him. I’ll be the white guy ringing the bell and raising hell the whole game.

I disagree on Region 6…I’m thinking 3-1 with SW DeKalb the only loser. Quite frankly, I would prefer the RAIDERS take care of Stephenson! Tucker will win tonight but will have their hands full next week with an away game against Flowery Branch. MLK has a cake walk to the semis (Allatoona might be their toughest game)

Let’s kick it off now…I’m pumped!!!!

YELLERJACKETZ1

November 16th, 2012
10:16 am

HEY BROOKS CALHOUNS LAMB IS AVERAGING LESS THAN 2 QTS PER GAME!! IWONDER WHAT HIS STATS WOULD BE IF HE WAS AVERAGING 3+ PER GAME UH HUUM !!!

Tackle FB

November 16th, 2012
10:32 am

Stop saying MLK plays down this year. It’s every year. They played down last year when Lassiter beat them up and down the field. Scrubs!

All I have to say is.......

November 16th, 2012
11:31 am

@YELLERJACKETZ1 East has had a similar problem. I think the first string may have played only 5 complete games out of the 10 we played. I can only imagine what the stats of some of the players would be if they had played 10 complete games.

sportsnut

November 16th, 2012
12:14 pm

GPB has the Colquit vs McEachern game.

toofunny

November 16th, 2012
12:30 pm

Enter your comments here

Titletown USA

November 16th, 2012
12:40 pm

I think Malcolm Parrish does more with less than Taylor Lamb….sometimes it is hard to gauge the ability of a QB when they are surrounded by superior talent (i.e Brice Ramsey). I have not seen Lamb play this year, but I saw Parrish and it is hard to believe that there is a better QB on the AA level than that kid…..and I am sure the truth is that there are both fine players with a small degree of difference in ability.

YELLERJACKETZ1

November 16th, 2012
1:03 pm

IM NOT TRYING TO COMPARE LAMB WITH PARRISH, I KNOW THEY ARE BOTH REAL GOOD QBS. PARRISH PROBABLY GETTING ALOT WITH WHAT HES GOT TO WORK WITH ( NO KNOCK ON THE OTHER KIDS) IM JUST SAYING THAT LAMBS STATS ARE NOT EVEN CLOSE TO WHAT THEY COULD BE ! CALHOUN HAS BEEN GETTING AHEAD EARLY AND HIS COACH-UNCLE TAKES HIM OUT TO GIVE OTHERS EXPERIENCE WHICH IS WHY CALHOUN HAS BEEN REBUILDING EVERY YEAR. I JUST KNOW THAT HE WOULD DEFINITELY BE ABOVE 4000 YDS PASSING IF HE WERE PLAYING THE FULL GAMES.I AGRE WITH WHAT THE COACH IS DOING AND REGARDLESS OF HOW WE FINISH THIS YR I BELIEVE WE WILL HAVE A BETTER TEAM NEXT YR

COWBELLMAN

November 16th, 2012
1:31 pm

YEAAA!!!! its game day. Cowbell is ready and my voice is back. So I hope all you Raider fans are ready for another loud and crazy night of Cowbellman. I’m looking for some noise tonight, none of this sitting there being quiet, its the playoffs so lets act like it dadgum it.

GOOOO RAIDERS!!!!!

Suwanee 0wns

November 16th, 2012
4:01 pm

For all of those posters who keep saying that Div 1 6A is the SEC of Georgia High School football, I just wanted to go on record as pointing out that it seems unlikely the SEC will be in the BCS Championship Game this year.

Draw your own conclusions.

Good luck to everyong, but remember that half of the teams playing tonight will be getting ready for girls basketball on Monday. Just making the playoffs in Georgia is a tremendous accomplishment, and the athletes should be proud of their seasons regardless of the outcomes of tonight’s games.

Heisenberg

November 16th, 2012
4:02 pm

BROOKS COUNTY 2005, how did your 2A team pull off a win against a quality 6A school? It is unusual enough for classifications that far apart to play – let alone for the 2A team to win the game. I know BC is a beast in 2A but dang they had to have played out of their minds that game.

toofunny

November 16th, 2012
4:11 pm

No mention of the states leading passer in 6A and member of the POY watch list Josh Dobbs. Also please stop putting concensus #1 in front of RN of Grayson to justify doing write ups on him “Men lie, women lie, Numbers don’t” right now his numbers ain’t adding up. At least getting Lawson amention was a step in the right direction from previous reporting. Also Daniel Clements Dobb’s teammate is one of the leading WR in the state give the kid some love sheesh 50+ catches 1300 yds. rec. 12+ TD’s. Ok I’m done venting…..
Good luck to all the teams that made it congrats on your regular season.

THS94

November 16th, 2012
5:37 pm

What is the live stream link for the Tucker Game tonight ??