Here’s what to look for this weekend in the second round of the Class AAAAA playoffs:
- For the second consecutive season, the only two regions to win three games in the first round were 5-AAAAA (North Paulding, South Paulding, East Paulding) and 6-AAAAA (Tucker, Mays, Stephenson). In 2012, the remaining six teams from those regions went head to head in the second round, with Region 5 taking two of the three matchups. There will be two second-round games between the regions this year when Stephenson faces North Paulding and East Paulding takes on Tucker. South Paulding from Region 5 will face defending state champion Gainesville and Mays from Region 6 will play Kell in the other games.
- Last year, a Harris County team that had never won a playoff game and started the 2012 season 0-4 was the surprise team of the playoffs, advancing to the quarterfinals before losing to Gainesville. This year’s under-the-radar team appears to be Richmond Hill. The Wildcats are 10-1, suffering their only loss in a 34-17 game against Ware County. They are riding a hot quarterback in Nick Fitzgerald, a Mississippi State commitment who ran for both touchdowns in 13-7 victory over Thomas County Central last week. Richmond Hill’s opponent this week is Warner Robins, which beat the Wildcats 17-15 on a late field goal in the first round last year.
- No second-round game brings together two teams with more recent success than the matchup between Northside-Warner Robins and Ware County. Northside has won at least 10 games for a state-record 16th consecutive season, with state titles in 2006 and 2007 and runner-up finishes in 2005 and 2009. Ware County has won 10 games or more seven times in 11 seasons and reached the state final in 2007 and 2012. Ware County beat the Eagles 24-17 in overtime in the semifinals last season.
- All eight region champions won their first-round games and six of the eight No. 2 seeds advanced, giving the home teams a 14-2 record last weekend. The only higher seeded teams that lost at home were Flowery Branch (Region 8 #2, lost to Stephenson) and Creekview (Region 7 #2, lost to East Paulding). Warner Robins of 2-AAAAA was the only region champion that won by fewer than 14 points, beating Whitewater 34-27.
- Creekside had three consecutive seasons of 10 or more victories from 1998-2000 and 2004-2006, but it had not won a playoff game since the most recent streak was broken. That drought ended in the first round when the Seminoles beat Lakeside-Evans 47-14 to improve to 11-0 for the fourth time in the program’s 24-year history. Coach Olten Downs is in his first season at Creekside after leading Riverdale to the playoffs in 2012.