By S. Thomas Coleman
For the AJC
Here are the first round match ups, which will be played next Friday, Nov. 22. The brackets were finalized Wednesday afternoon, after several appeals were heard by the Georgia High Schools Association. None of the appeals impacted the seeding or the playoff brackets. Also, we take a quick look at four of the games, and give the region breakdown of the teams that made the cut.
No. 1 Seminole County (Region 1 champion) vs No. 16 Wilkinson County
No. 8 Commerce vs. No. 9 Charlton County
No. 5 Johnson County vs. No. 12 Emanuel County Institute
No. 13 Trion vs. No. 4 Irwin County
No. 12 Emanuel County Institute (6-4) at No. 5 Johnson County (9-1). Johnson County walloped defending public school champion ECI 65-29 back on Oct. 28. Johnson County QB Markel Horne rushed for 330 yards and scored six touchdowns on 16 carries to lead the charge. At the time both teams were ranked in the top 10 – Johnson County at No. 5, ECI at No. 8. ECI has been hit hard by injuries this season, as four Bulldog players have suffered ACL tears while James Brown, a pre-season all-state selection, has been slowed by a severe shoulder injury.
No. 3 Clinch County (Region 2 champion) vs. No. 14 Claxton
No. 6 Hawkinsville vs. No. 11 Mitchell County
No. 7 Lincoln County vs. No. 10 Dooly County
No. 15 Turner County vs. No. 2 Marion County (Region 4 champion)
No. 10 Dooly County (7-3) at No. 7 Lincoln County (7-3). This is a rematch of last season’s public school semi-final, which Dooly County won 10-7. The Bobcats are one of only two teams in Georgia (Savannah Christian, 3-0) with a winning record against Lincoln County all time at 2-1. Each meeting has been in the state playoffs. Prior to last season, the Red Devils prevailed in the 1998 quarterfinals, 34-8, while Dooly won the 1983 semi-final, 20-8.
No. 1 Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy (Region 5 champion) vs. No. 16 Athens Christian
No. 8 Darlington vs. No. 9 Christian Heritage
No. 5 Prince Avenue (Region 8 champion) vs. No. 12 Brookstone
No. 13 First Presbyterian vs. No. 4 Calvary Day (Region 3 champion)
No. 9 Christian Heritage (8-2) at No. 8 Darlington (8-2). Like Johnson County and ECI, these two teams are in the same sub-region, Region 6 – Division A. Darlington won the meeting on Oct 11, 18-14, as the Tigers scored 15 unanswered points in the second half to rally for the win. This is the first trip to the state playoffs in the brief three-year history of the football program at Christian Heritage, located in Dalton.
No. 3 Aquinas (Region 7 champion) vs. No. 14 Savannah Christian
No. 6 Mount Paran Christian vs. No. 11 Our Lady of Mercy
No. 7 Landmark Christian vs. No. 10 Holy Innocents’
No. 15 St. Anne Pacelli vs. No. 2 Mount Pisgah Christian (Region 6 champion)
No. 10 Holy Innocents’ (6-4) at No. 7 Landmark Christian (8-2). These two Region 5 foes met two weeks ago on Nov. 1, when Holy Innocents’ knocked off the previously unbeaten War Eagles, 29-28. The Golden Bears battled back from fourth quarter deficits of 21-7 and 28-21 to win the game. Head coach Ryan Livezy’s gutsy gamble paid off for Holy Innocents’, as he decided to go for a two-point conversion after Clay Pfohl’s 2-yard touchdown run pulled the Bears to within 28-27 with a little less than two minutes remaining in the game. Luke Wright hit Jackson Miller for the winning conversion. Landmark QB/K Stockton McGuire narrowly missed a 52-yard field goal at the buzzer.
Region 1: 2 Public, 0 Private
Region 2: 4 Public, 0 Private
Region 3: 3 Public, 2 Private
Region 4: 3 Public, 2 Private
Region 5: 0 Public, 4 Private
Region 6: 1 Public, 4 Private
Region 7: 2 Public, 2 Private
Region 8: 1 Public, 2 Private