Headed into the third week of the playoffs, we can barely think of anything except high school football down at The List HQ.
So many favorites have rolled through their first two opponents, and a few surprises just add to the intrigue as we argue across the newsroom about who the semifinalists are going to be.
We know there are going to be more surprises, and the big question is where those are going to come from now. Can any of the 4 seeds make it into the semis? We’ll just have to wait to see, and we have zero patience.
In the meantime, we decided to look at the brackets and pick out the 10 most likely upsets waiting to happen this week.
10. Class A Private: 11 George Walton at 3 Walker
Can we be forgiven for wondering if Walker is for real? This is a program that had never won more than six games and has already won as many games this season as it had the previous four combined. Now, maybe new coach John East has just turned them into an overnight state power. But this is a George Walton team that’s 2-1 against quarterfinalists, with the only loss being 21-20 at undefeated Athens Academy. The Bulldogs can play.
9. Class AAAAA: 3 Tucker at 1 Northside-Warner Robins
This one’s a slight stretch, but we always think a team with the speed and athleticism of Tucker has a puncher’s chance. And fans of both teams certainly remember what happened last year, when the Tigers went to Warner Robins in the semifinals and won 17-16 en route to the state title. Revenge factor, or omen for the present? No way to know … yet.
8. Class A Private: 9 Prince Avenue at 1 Athens Academy
The Wolverines may be in only their eighth year of existence as a program, but these guys aren’t new to the big stage. This is their third consecutive playoff appearance, and they were in the semifinals last year. And when they played Athens Academy a few weeks back, the undefeated Spartans only won 14-7.
7. Class A Public: 9 Wilkinson County at 1 Lincoln County
“What?” you say. “Lincoln County losing at home to a 9 seed? Never!” Oh, but consider this. First, Lincoln has lost in the quarterfinals each of the past three years, and four of the past five. Two of the past three have come at home. And just three weeks ago, the Warriors went into Lincolnton and lost by only two, 21-19. Keep an eye on this one.
6. Class AAAAA: 2 Stephenson at 1 Ware County
The argument against this is that Stephenson hasn’t been past the quarterfinals since 2005, despite having two or fewer regular-season losses each of the subsequent years. On the other hand, this Jaguars team was battle tested in arguably the state’s toughest region, and they’ve scored fewer than 28 just once. Ware has won 11 straight. Will it be 12?
5. Class AAAAAA: 4 Colquitt County at 3 Parkview
The Panthers got a lot of mileage out of the pretty shocking, dominating upset of then-No. 1 Grayson way back in September, coupled with starting 6-1. Since then, though, they’ve gone just 3-2, needing overtime to survive both of their first two rounds. Meanwhile, Colquitt has won six of seven, and looks to be confident playing on the road. The Packers haven’t bowed out prior to the semifinals since 2008.
4. Class AAA: 2 Washington County at 1 St. Pius
St. Pius has had a nice season, ranked all year, looking for only its second semifinal appearance since winning the state title in 1968, and first since 2006. But the Golden Hawks will be a tough out for anyone. Their only loss came 28-14 to undefeated, No. 1 Thomson, and they’ve won their following three games by a combined score of 132-7. They’re fully capable of getting this one done.
3. Class AAAAAA: 2 North Gwinnett at 1 Lovejoy
There may not have been a more impressive second-round win than North Gwinnett’s 28-10 victory over Grayson. The Rams had scored at least 41 points in each game since their early-season loss to Parkview, but the Bulldogs strangled them. Like Grayson, the Wildcats have piled up the points since an early loss. North Gwinnett has done it once, and we know the Bulldogs have the offense to win if the defense shows up again.
2. Class AAA: 2 Buford at 1 Carver-Columbus
There’s a lot to like about the Tigers, winning nine straight after an early 33-0 drubbing at the hands of Colquitt County. But this is a Buford team that has been in the finals five years in a row. They’re stung by having to forfeit two early games, and they want to show they can win at the AAA level just like they did in AA. We’ll believe they’re going to lose when we see it.
1. Class AAAAA: 2 Gainesville at 1 Harris County
The Tigers are a nice little story. In multiple overtimes, about to start 0-5, they rallied to beat Douglas County and then won the next seven games to notch a school-record eight wins and get here. Gainesville is pretty much the polar opposite, rolling on beautifully until stumbling with two straight losses to end the regular season, and the Red Elephants have won at least eight in 10 of the past 11 years. Gainesville scores a ton of points, and the clock may be striking midnight on Harris.
Now, we want to know what you think. Where do you see the upsets coming this week? Are the Cinderellas ready to head home from the ball yet? Are the traditional powers about to make their mark? Let us know in the comments here or on Twitter at @ajcprepsports.