By David Purdum / For the AJC
No. 1 Sandy Creek begins its playoff defense with an intriguing matchup against running back Nick Chubb and Cedartown. Chubb, a Georgia commitment, has rushed for 2,612 yards and 40 touchdowns this season.
“He reminds you of Alabama tailbacks the way he runs and how physical he is,” said Sandy Creek coach Chip Walker, who coached Chubb last season in the Junior Bowl, which features rising seniors. “He can do a little bit everything, run with power, run with speed; he’ll make you miss. He’s just a really good player.”
The Patriots have won three of the last four state championships in their classification and enter the playoffs on a 25-game unbeaten streak. Walker is confident in his team’s mindset.
“Probably the last month or so, we’ve really honed in and focused,” said Walker. “You can tell it’s the playoffs. It’s a different mindset for them.”
Sandy Creek would meet No. 2 Griffin in the state quarterfinals if both teams advance.
First-timers: Three AAAA teams will be making their first trip to the playoffs: Lanier, Locus Grove and Veterans. Veterans, the top seed out of Region 2, will host Locust Grove in the first round. Lanier, the third seed out of Region 8, will open against Caver-Atlanta.
Bracket breakdown: There are four ranked teams in the bottom-right quadrant of the AAAA bracket, the most of any of the quadrants: No. 3 Monroe Area, No. 4 Carrollton, No. 9 Stockbridge and No. 10 Westover. With first-round wins, Monroe Area and Carrollton would meet in the second round. The Purple Hurricanes open against Banneker. The Trojans host Northwest Whitfield on Friday. … Seventh-ranked Wayne County is the only ranked team in its quadrant (bottom-left) of the bracket.
Traveling Devils: Eighth-ranked Statesboro faces the longest road trip of the first round. The Blue Devils will travel more than 200 miles to take on the Cairo Syrupmakers.