By S. Thomas Coleman
For the AJC
Class A joins the post season march toward crowning two champions as the playoffs get started this weekend. Here are some facts about each of the 16 games.
No. 16 Hancock Central (5-5) at No. 1 Lincoln County (9-1). The teams faced each other two weeks ago in the regular season finale. Lincoln, the Region 7 champions, prevailed 27-8, even though the Red Devils rested most of their starters. The Bulldogs are 0-15 against Lincoln, with the closest game being a 28-15 loss last season. Running back Mike McIntire leads Lincoln with 1, 040 yards rushing, while quarterback Ben Turner has thrown for over 1,000 yards as well. Lincolnton is located just minutes from the South Carolina boarder.
No. 15 Greenville (5-5) at No. 2 Wilcox County (8-2). The only meeting between these two schools came during Wilcox’s championship run in 2009. Wilcox, the Region 2 champions, won the second round playoff game 39-19. Wilcox County is located in Rochelle, about 90 minutes southeast of Macon. Greenville is the county seat of Meriwether County, about 90 minutes southwest of Atlanta.
No. 14 Gordon Lee (5-5) at No. 3 Emanuel County Institute (9-1). The Trojans from Chickamaugua in northwest Georgia made the post season tournament in spite of losing their last four games of the season. The Bulldogs, the Region 3 champions, have won their last eight games, and their only loss this season was to AAA Washington County, back on Sept. 7. ECI is located in Twin City, an hour east of Macon.
No. 13 Commerce (5-5) at No. 4 Seminole County (8-2). Seminole County is the two-time Region 1 champion, and has won seven in a row since starting the season 1-2. The school is located in Donaldsonville, tucked into the southwest corner of the state, about an hour southwest of Albany. The Tigers began the season 4-0 but lost five of their last six, including the season finale to Pinecrest Academy (31-21) in Cumming, a school just two seasons removed from competing in the Georgia Independent Schools Association (GISA). Commerce, home of the North Georgia Premium Outlets Mall, is about an hour northeast of Atlanta.
No. 12 Turner County (6-4) at No. 5 Dooly County (8-2). Dooly County, located in the county seat of Vienna, an hour south of Macon, finished in a three-way tie for first in Region 4 but lost the tie-breaker to Brookstone. The Bobcats feature the player many believe is the top defensive tackle in the country, Montravious Adams. Turner County, located in the county seat of Ashburn, is about 30 minutes south of Vienna. The teams have met 19 times, with Turner winning 10. However, Dooly won the most recent meeting, 27-6, in 2009.
No. 11 Trion (8-2) at No. 6 Irwin County (7-3). This is the first meeting between the two schools, most likely because they are located more than four hours apart. Irwin County is located 90 minutes south of Macon. The Indians had their best regular season since 2007, when they finished 7-3 but lost in the first round of the state playoffs (31-21 to Brookstone). Trion is located in Chattooga County, in northwest Georgia along the Alabama boarder, about 30 minutes north of Rome. This is the Bulldogs’ best season since 2003 when they finished 12-2 and advanced to the state semifinals.
No. 10 Charlton County (5-5) at No. 7 Marion County (8-2). Marion County, located in Buena Vista, an hour southwest of Macon, finished in a three-way tie for first in Region 4 but lost the tie-breakers to both Brookstone and Dooly County. The Eagles were the two-time defending region champs. Charlton County, located in the county seat of Folkston in the southeastern tip of the state along the Florida boarder, suffered through its worst regular season in the 23-year tenure of head coach Rich McWhorter. It was the first time the Indians failed to win at least six regular season games since 1989, the year prior to McWhorter’s arrival.
No. 9 Wilkinson County (7-3) at No. 8 Miller County (8-2). Miller County is located in the county seat of Colquitt, about 45 minutes southwest of Albany, near the Alabama and Florida boarders. The Pirates had won seven in a row before losing their season finale, 20-0 to Seminole County, in a game that decided the Region 1 championship. Wilkinson County is located in the county seat if Irwinton, 30 minutes east of Macon. The Warriors have advanced to the state semifinals twice in the last four seasons (2008 and 2010). Miller won the lone previous meeting between the two schools, 32-36, in the second round of the 1999 playoffs.
No. 16 Mt. Pisgah Christian (6-4) at No. 1 Athens Academy (10-0). The Spartans, the Region 8 champions, are one of only two teams in all of Class A that finished with an unblemished regular season record. Athens Academy, led by 14 seniors, has won seven region titles but is in search of its first state championship. In the two previous games between the two (2006-2007), Athens Academy has won both by a combined margin of 66-14. This is the Patriots’ first trip to the playoffs since joining the Georgia High Schools Association in 2006.
No. 15 Our Lady of Mercy (6-4) at No. 2 Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy (9-1). ELCA’s only loss this season was to AAA Washington County (24-19) back on Aug. 24. The Chargers, the three-time Region 5 champs, have outscored their opponents this season by an average score of 47-7. They beat Mercy 49-0, back on Oct. 19. Both teams are led by players currently committed to Big 10 schools — Mercy CB/ATH Rashard Fant (Indiana) and ELCA RB/LB Keyante Green (Purdue).
No. 14 Athens Christian (4-6) at No. 3 Walker (10-0). The Wolverines, the Region 6 champions, join Athens Academy as the only undefeated teams in the playoffs. Walker, located in Marietta, is led by RB/DB/ATH Evan Kasian, who has accounted for nearly 2,000 yards of offense. Athens Christian is the only team in either tournament with a losing record. This is the first meeting between the two schools.
No. 13 First Presbyterian Day (6-4) at No. 4 Brookstone (8-2). Brookstone, located in Columbus, won a three-way tie with Dooly County and Marion County for the Region 4 championship, the seventh in school history. The Cougars have never won a state title. FPD (6-4), located in Macon, is in its third season competing in the GHSA. The Vikings won GISA state titles in 1980 and 1985.
No. 12 Landmark (7-3) at No. 5 Calvary Day (9-1). This is a rematch of the season opener for both teams. Calvary Day, located in Savannah, won 28-21 at Landmark, located in Fairburn. That game was a rematch of last season’s second round matchup, which Landmark won 21-7 in Savannah. The War Eagles went on to advance to the state final.
No. 11 George Walton Academy (7-3) at No. 6 Aquinas (8-2). This is a rematch of a game played Sept. 7, which Aquinas won, 28-21, in overtime, at George Walton, located in Monroe, midway between Atlanta and Athens. It is the only previous meeting between the schools. Aquinas, located in Augusta, has improved every year in the four-year tenure of head coach Matt Lezotte. Last season the Irish advanced to the state quarterfinals before losing 28-21 at home to eventual state runner-up Landmark. George Walton is in its third season in the GHSA. The Bulldogs won four GISA state titles, including 2009, their last season in that association. The teams are led by players that could become rivals on the next level – Aquinas RB/FB Brendan Douglas, a senior committed to Georgia Tech, and junior RB/DB Stanley “Boom” Williams who said last month that he is “90 percent committed” to Georgia.
No. 10 Holy Innocents (6-4) at No. 7 Savannah Christian (7-3). Savannah Christian is the reigning state champion. The Raiders lost a lot of experience off of last year’s team – including college players DeAngelo Tyson (Louisville) and Nardo Govan (Georgia Southern) – and began the season 0-2, prior to reeling off seven straight. But they were thumped in the region title game by ECI, the No. 3 seed in the public school playoffs, 48-14. Holy Innocents, located in Sandy Springs, lost its final regular season game as well, 36-3 to No. 12 seed Landmark. This is the first meeting between the two teams.
No. 9 Prince Avenue Christian (8-2) at No. 8 Darlington (7-3). Darlington, located in Rome, was denied its fourth consecutive region title this season when it lost to Mt. Zion-Carroll (20-17). The Tigers won a state title in 1998, and claim championships in 1914 and 1915. PAC, located in Athens, went undefeated last season until it lost in the semifinals, 27-0, to eventual champion Savannah Christian. Darlington won the only previous meeting between the two schools, 49-13, in the first round of the 2010 playoffs.