The assignment for today is ‘five things to watch in Class AAAAAA’ this week.
In my mind, this week helps us find out who’s real and who is not. These are teams, and even one player, that I’m curious to find out more about.
Are they for real?
Lovejoy: It won’t surprise me if Lovejoy beats North Gwinnett. Let’s get that out of the way. What we’re saying is that Lovejoy has played fewer games that define a team than anyone else still standing in AAAAAA. The Wildcats have played one ranked opponent, Colquitt County, and lost 14-7 in early September. Taking out perennial power North Gwinnett would change the perception of a program with a great record (35-3 over the past three seasons) but without a defining victory in the highest class.
Jacorey Lewis: No player in AAAAAA has had a better post-season than Jacorey Lewis, the senior running back from Mill Creek. He has rushed for 595 yards and eight touchdowns in his two playoff game. For the season, he has rushed for 2,040 yards and scored 30 touchdowns. Those are all-state numbers, to be sure. Lewis wasn’t in that conversation at mid-season. Mill Creek plays at North Cobb on Friday in a game that could send Mill Creek to its first-ever semifinals and give Lewis more ammunition as a potential player-of-the-year candidate.
North Cobb: Here’s another team that hasn’t been to the semifinals in the highest class. North Cobb did make the Class C semis in 1959, when Acworth was the size of Hooterville. North Cobb is the only Cobb County team left in a classification that has been won almost exclusively by south Georgia and Gwinnett County teams since 1996. Gwinnett teams (of which Friday’s opponent Mill Creek is one) are 2-0 against Cobb in these playoffs. No Cobb teams outside of east Cobb (Walton, Lassiter) has made the semifinals since Harrison in 2000. And no one would’ve seen North Cobb as the one to break that drought. The Warriors haven’t had a winning season since 2007.
Norcross: The Blue Devils’ dominance of their schedule this season is so impressive that the computer Maxwell Ratings have made Norcross a 12-point favorite at Camden County this week. That’s intuitively absurd, but rather than dwell on the prediction itself, consider how the prediction came to be. It’s based purely on scores, not history and common sense. For example, Norcross has never made the state semifinals. Norcross has never played a game below metro Atlanta. This is a school that opened in the 1950s. That’s history. But here are some scores: Norcross has beaten Parkview by 20, North Gwinnett by 10 and Mill Creek by 8 after leading 49-14. Who has Camden County beaten? Nobody with a winning record that made it past the first round. It’s something to think about.
Parkview: No coach could be having more fun this season than Parkview’s Cecil Flowe. Here’s a guy with four state titles but a program that had been in decline – no playoff win since 2005, no region title since 2004. Parkview was 4-6 last season. Then came the upset of Grayson, but later a heart-breaking loss to South Gwinnett in the final regular-season game to cost the Panthers the region. Now, Parkview has won its first two playoff games in overtime on road. No team had ever done that before. And Parkview has played without leading rusher Chris Carson. On Friday, Parkview plays its first playoff game in its Big Orange Jungle since 2008 against Colquitt County with a chance to prove this is not just a good story, but a legitimate championship contender.