Semifinal surprises: Pollsters off the mark with Whitewater

The state playoffs have reached the semifinals. Is it what we thought?

Only 19 of the 28 semifinal were ranked in the final regular-season poll, but just one team – Whitewater – didn’t spend at least one week in the Top 10 during the season.

To objectively measure our surprise, we came up with a “confidence rating” that expresses our expectation that a team might make the semifinals. The formula considers preseason ranking, final regular-season ranking and total weeks in the rankings. If you’re mathematically inclined, the formula goes like this:

N = 3 x [(11 - preseason ranking) + (11 - final regular-season ranking) + total weeks in the rankings]

The most points a team can get (meaning no surprise) is 99. The least is 0.

To make for fair comparisons, we listed the Class A teams separately because they played only two rounds instead of three.

Note that preseason No. 1 teams Northside, Sandy Creek and Calhoun are still alive. Only twice in history has more than two AJC preseason No. 1 teams won state titles. Those were 2001 (Parkview, Statesboro, Buford) and 2006 (Peach County, Charlton County, Lincoln County). Preseason polls began around 1970.

1. Whitewater (confidence rating: 0)

Despite a 12-1 record and Region 4-AAAAA championship, Whitewater is the only semifinal team that has not been ranked this season. The Wildcats have been ranked only three weeks in school history, which began in 2004. The reason for this year’s snub was Whitewater’s schedule. Until the quarterfinals, Whitewater had not played a team that was ranked at any point this season. The Wildcats proved themselves with a 24-3 victory over No. 10 Allatoona.

2. North Cobb (6)

North Cobb was not ranked in the preseason or final regular-season AAAAAA rankings but did spend three weeks at No. 6 after a 49-17 victory over 2011 state runner-up Walton. The Warriors – who hadn’t won a playoff game since 1979 – were written off after a 27-26 loss to South Cobb on Oct. 5, which was followed two weeks later by a 49-17 loss to McEachern.

3. North Hall (9)

The Trojans were ranked for two weeks this season but were jinxed by the honor, as they lost their next game both times – to Jefferson on Sept. 14 and Buford on Nov. 9. Last week, North Hall blew out the preseason No. 1 team in AAA, Peach County, 52-10.

4. Ridgeland (12)

Ridgeland lost its opener to No. 1 Calhoun of Class AA 42-35 but has won 12 consecutive games. The Panthers finally made the rankings on Nov. 5 with an 8-1 record and entered the playoffs ranked No. 9. They have scored at least 35 points in all 13 games.

5. Monroe Area (21)

Monroe Area broke into the rankings after a 4-0 start and got as high as No. 4 but lost 35-0 in the final game of the regular season to Eastside. Region 8-AAAA had been clinched, so there was no harm, except that the Purple Hurricanes fell out of the GHSF Daily/AJC rankings. The Associated Press kept them at No. 9.

6. Ware County (21)

Ware lost to Coffee 21-14 in its opener and didn’t make the AAAAA rankings until Nov. 5 with an 8-1 record. The Gators stood No. 6 entering the playoffs. They beat No. 9 Stephenson 14-0 in the quarterfinals in their first game against a ranked opponent above Class A this season.

7. Jefferson (27)

Jefferson lost to a mediocre Class A team, Commerce, 22-7 in the opener. If not for that, Jefferson probably would’ve been ranked No. 3 entering the playoffs. As it stood, the Dragons got in the rankings Oct. 7 after beating previously unbeaten Washington-Wilkes and finished at No. 7. Jefferson beat No. 4 Fitzgerald 53-51 in the quarterfinals.

8. Gainesville (45)

Gainesville was ranked No. 8 in preseason, and it would’ve been higher except for concern that the Red Elephants were moving up two classifications to AAAAA. They remained ranked after losing their opener to AAAAAA West Forsyth but were dumped after losing their final two regular-season games, one to 4-6 Loganville.

9. Greater Atlanta Christian (48)

GAC was ranked No. 8 in preseason and No. 9 in the final regular-season AA rankings. The Spartans fell out briefly after losing to Chamblee in overtime on Sept. 13 but remained ranked after losing to No. 1 Thomson on Oct. 5 and No. 10 Lovett on Nov. 9.

10. Cartersville (48)

There were only 13 undefeated teams after the regular season, but Cartersville – coming off a 5-5 season – was ranked only No. 6 in AAA entering the playoffs. The Purple Hurricanes had not played a ranked team. They’ve beaten two in the playoffs in No. 8 Blessed Trinity and No. 1 Thomson.

11. Norcross (57)

The Associated Press saw something in Norcross in preseason that GHSF Daily did not and ranked the Blue Devils No. 6 in AAAAAA. Norcross remained unranked in the AJC poll until a 2-0 start. The Blue Devils were ranked No. 2 in both polls entering the playoffs. Norcross is in the semifinals for the first time.

12. Lovejoy (63)

Lovejoy moved from AAAA into the highest classification and was unranked in the AP’s preseason poll but started and finished at No. 7 in the AJC poll and remained ranked all 13 weeks. The Wildcats fell back for a time after losing to Colquitt County on Sept. 8.

13. Colquitt County (66)

Coming off three consecutive semifinal appearances in the highest class, Colquitt was ranked No. 2 in preseason. The Packers lost their third game on Oct. 27 but controversially remained ranked by GHSF Daily/AJC when abandoned by the AP poll. The Packers entered the playoffs at No. 9. They’ve made their fourth straight semifinal, something no school has done in the highest class since Valdosta in 1971.

14. St. Pius (72)

St. Pius started No. 4 and finished No. 7 and remained ranked all 13 weeks in AAA despite close losses to Thomson on Sept. 14 and Woodward Academy on Oct. 26. The Lions beat No. 4 Washington County 40-35 in the quarterfinals.

15. Lamar County (75)

Lamar started No. 5 in AA (No. 2 by the AP), dropped to No. 9 after the opening-game tie with Spalding, and slowly crept back to No. 5 entering the playoffs. The Trojans beat No. 8 Lovett 35-28 in the quarterfinals.

16. Marist (87)

Marist started No. 4 but was promoted to No. 2 after the first game because of upsets to Burke County and Carrollton. Marist remained No. 2 the rest of the way despite a loss to AAAAA Thomas County Central. Marist beat No. 10 Carrollton (the preseason No. 3) in the second round and current No. 4 Stockbridge in the quarterfinals.

17. Buford (90)

Despite moving up in class and graduating 21 of 24 starters, Buford started No. 2 (breaking a five-year streak of starting No. 1) and finished No. 3 in the regular season. Buford lost early to Gainesville of AAAAA and had two victories overturned by forfeit for the inadvertent use of an ineligible player. Neither affected the rankings much. Buford has made six consecutive semifinals.

18. Northside-Warner Robins (99)

Northside was ranked No. 1 in AAAAA from start to finish in the regular season. The AP ranked 2011 AAAA champion Tucker No. 1 in preseason. Northside defeated Tucker 23-20 in the quarterfinals.

19. Sandy Creek (99)

Sandy Creek was ranked No. 1 in AAAA from start to finish in the regular season. Sandy Creek led from wire to wire in 2010 in winning a state championship.

20. Calhoun (99)

Calhoun has been ranked No. 1 in AA from start to finish. Calhoun, the 2011 AA champion, was ranked No. 1 in preseason for the first time.

Class A

1. Dooly County (3)

Dooly spent one week in the rankings after a 2-0 start but didn’t return after a loss to Wilcox County. Dooly didn’t win its region but did get a No. 5 seed.

2. George Walton Academy (12)

George Walton spent four weeks in the rankings but finished unranked after a 7-3 regular season. George Walton beat No. 10 and previously unbeaten Walker 37-7 in the quarterfinals.

3. Prince Avenue Christian (27)

Prince Avenue spent nine of 13 weeks in the rankings but finished unranked after an 8-2 finish. Prince Avenue avenged one of those losses last week with a 24-7 victory over No. 3 Athens Academy.

4. Landmark Christian (30)

Landmark, the 2011 runner-up, was No. 3 in preseason but dropped out after an opening loss to Calvary Day. Landmark beat No. 8 Calvary Day 38-24 in the first round.

5. Emanuel County Institute (69)

ECI was No. 9 in preseason (unranked by AP) and No. 2 (No. 4 AP) after a 9-1 finish, its only loss to Washington County of AAA.

6. Wilcox County (69)

Wilcox County was No. 5 in preseason and No. 5 at the end of the season bounced wildly, getting as high as No. 2 and dropping out altogether for two weeks during an 8-2 season.

7. Lincoln County (81)

Lincoln County started No. 3 and finished No. 4 and stayed in the rankings throughout despite a loss to AA Washington-Wilkes that dropped the Red Devils to No. 9 for a week.

8. Eagle’s Landing Christian (96)

ELCA was ranked No. 2 in preseason (No. 1 in AP), dropped to No. 3 (No. 6 in AP) after a loss to AAA Washington County, but got the No. 1 ranking on Sept. 11 and held it until the end.

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18 comments Add your comment


December 4th, 2012
7:41 am

I guess that’s why they play the games; I am a Sandy Creek fan but wishing Whitewater good luck. Amos McCreary is a good man.

My dad is a tv repairman. I can fix it.

December 4th, 2012
8:18 am

Badbrad, hoping whitewater can wash away that taste of defeat gainesville caused by beating sandy last year? Jus kiddin, that was a great game, honestly the gainesville folks were as surprised with that result as yall probly were. Dont know much about whitewater, but dont think they have an answer for #4. If our D can stop their offense, i like our chances.

The Cross

December 4th, 2012
9:53 am

Enter your comments here

Cville Canes Fan

December 4th, 2012
10:30 am


Appling County Pirate Fan

December 4th, 2012
12:31 pm

Lamar county is classy bunch of folks, enjoyed playing you guys last year one of the best games I have ever witnessed! Go LAMAR BEAT CALHOUN! Which are not classy and fans or just as bad! If you can keep your heads too you and not let them get you down, then you can beat them!


December 4th, 2012
1:03 pm

Sore loser, must have had a bad trip home.

Welcome Lamar Co, judge for yourself — there will be an electric home crowd and I hope your fans are excited.

That Dude Says...

December 4th, 2012
5:41 pm

Hoping Sandy Creek keeps rolling in AAAA, pulling for Whitewater a cross county team in AAAAA, and Lovejoy in AAAAAA. Got to pull the South metro teams.


December 4th, 2012
10:50 pm

December 4th, 2012
10:45 pm

I am a longtime Packer fan and I honestly have nothing against Norcross. But, after watching their games with Parkview, Chattahoochee & South Gwinnett, I don’t see them hanging with the Packers.

I’ll be the first to admitt that I missed it on my prediction of the Camden/Norcross game.
I sure wish I could watch that Game. If anyone knows a website, please let me know.
I assume that Norcross looked like a totally different team than I have seen.

I know high school kids can be sporadic in their performance but If the Pack plays like they are capable, and minimizes turnovers, then I predict Pack wins Friday night by 21.

Hope both teams play their best & honestly, “may the best team win”!


December 5th, 2012
12:29 am

The Camden/Norross game was MUCH closer than the score indicates. The score was 20-19 Camden with about 8 min. left in the game. Norcross played a great game, but I (as usual) disagreed with Camden’s play calling. Brice Ramsey had thrown only one interception the entire season, he threw two against Norcross. Camden played one of the most undisciplined games of the season. Two roughing the passer penalties on one drive, three total. Norcross scored 21 points off of Camden turnovers. Norcross’ play calling was right on cue. Kamara was on his game, he was the dagger! :-D


December 5th, 2012
7:41 am

THanks for the info Camden 74!

They don’t look that good to me!

But, I guess we’ll see Friday Night!

Colquitt Supporter

December 5th, 2012
8:25 am

There is a reason Norcross is 13-0. AS much as I believe in the Pack, we will have our hands full on Friday night. Kamara is one heck of a player.


December 5th, 2012
8:56 am

********************** WE ARE CALHOUN *******************


December 5th, 2012
9:04 am

The Pack will be ok. There is no pressure on us cause we are not undefeated and we are not at home.It will be a fight but after coming up short at this point in the playoffs last year and knowing that was our state title last year we are hungry and our guys saw the look on last years seniors faces when we lost that heartbreaker to a very good Grayson team. By this time Norcross was only focused on their always talented basketball teams so they don’t what it’s like to be heartbroken when your so close but after friday they might know what it feels like.Our team wont get rattled by anyone cause we have too much playoff experience between our QB,Rec,and on defense plus we have more weapons on this teams than last year and we were very good last year, just think about for a min


December 5th, 2012
9:44 am

MOULTRIE — Back on September 7, Colquitt County held Lovejoy to just a single, fourth-quarter touchdown in a 14-7 victory over a team that has one of the top offenses in the state.

The Packers will face a similar task on Friday when they travel to Norcross to meet an undefeated Blue Devils team that might have more weapons than Lovejoy.

Expecting the Packers defense to allow just seven points might be unrealistic.

With an accurate and veteran quarterback in Joseph Wilber, an All-State and highly coveted running back in Alvin Kamara and a big, productive junior receiver in Myles Autry, the Blue Devils are likely to put some points on the board.

They did it when they visited Tom White Field at Mack Tharpe Stadium last August in the scrimmage they won 33-31.

The Packers might find themselves involved in a track meet, but they have an experience arsenal of their own.

Quarterback Cole Segraves has proved he thrives in the the postseason and is 6-1 in playoff starts.

He has completed 163-of-273 passes for 2,098 yards and 10 touchdowns this season and has made some highlight-reel throws the last several weeks.

And Packers coach Rush Propst and offensive coordinator Jeff Hammond have been adding to the playbook as the season has gone on.

And as the season has progressed, more players have played crucial roles.

Bobby Hill continues to be the Packers primary target. He leads the team with 73 catches for 1051 yards and six touchdowns.

He caught just three passes in the victory at Parkview last Friday, but two were worth several looks.

Hill willed himself into the end zone on a 35-yard touchdown pass that gave the Packers their first lead in the third quarter.

He had another in the fourth quarter that resulted in a first down that brought the Packer fans out of their seats.

And Hill may find more maneuvering room in the secondary and Todd Boyd continues to develop.

With 40 catches for 771 yards, he has become nearly as dependable as Hill.

The Packers are beginning to show that they can run with some effectiveness, whether with Segraves toting or giving to Sihiem King, John Boatwright or Maleek Lewis.

And the opposition should not forget about versatile sophomore Javonta Woods. Or Kishaun Taylor and Deonte Johnson, who are capable to turning in plays. As is tight end Nate Madison, when he is called upon.

The Packers offensive line will again be called upon to protect Segraves and provide some space for King, Boatwright and Lewis.

Junior right tackle Gabe Mobley is coming off his best game of the season.

The other four — tackle Octavius Jackson, guards Travis Register and Jeffery Davis and center Dalton Dillon — are seniors who have logged plenty of snaps over the last 27 games.

The Blue Devils did not see the broad spectrum of the Packers offense in August, when Segraves completed 7-of-9 passes for 66 yards and a touchdown pass to Hill.

Lewis rushed for 107 yards and a touchdown on seven carries.


December 5th, 2012
10:38 am


Packers have not played a COMPLETE game all year!

If they DO-IT Friday night and minimize turnovers,

They win by at-least 21!

blu eagle

December 5th, 2012
1:15 pm

Squirell, Norcross is gonna whip ya’ll like a baby boy.They have one of those one every 100 year kind of teams this year, have seen them play they are fast and physical, no contest.You fall in the big game yet again, count on it!

blu eagle

December 5th, 2012
1:17 pm

Here comes NSWR ware county, they are ready, hope you are.We are a balanced team with plenty of size and speed to go around, we smell another state title!


December 5th, 2012
2:44 pm

@Squirrell – If the Packers haven’t played a complete game all year, what makes you think they will Friday? This is not a smart a question. Seriously, what makes you think they will be able to put it together this Friday? They have lots of talent and a coach that knows football and have the potential to have a good night if they can. I’m not the one(s) saying they haven’t/can’t do it. Interestingly, it seems to be more Packers fans that say IF they pull it all together they can win. It is almost like there is some doubt.