By David Purdum / For the AJC
A reporter mentioned to Monroe Area coach Matt Fligg that not too many folks were giving his team a shot against Carrollton. Fligg sees why.
“I can understand why they think that, on paper and on film, “ Fligg said. “But they still have to come play us. You can tell, it’s a little different around here this week. And it better be.”
The Purple Hurricanes didn’t stand up to Sandy Creek in a 35-0 semifinal playoff loss to the eventual-champion Patriots last season. Now, Monroe Area gets a shot at another Region 5-AAAA perennial powerhouse in fourth-ranked Carrollton on Friday.
“Carrollton doesn’t have a weakness. They’ve got five or six D-I guys, spread out all over the field,” Fligg said of the Trojans, who are in the playoffs for the 26th straight season. “We’re playing a legendary team.”
Game notes: Carrollton’s only loss came against No. 1 Sandy Creek. … Trojans coach Rayvan Teague and Fligg were roommates at the last Georgia-Florida High School All-Star Football Game in 2001. … Monroe Area sports a plus-17 turnover margin. The Purple Hurricanes’ starting backfield has only one fumble all season.
Change in approach: Marist beat Gilmer, 56-0, in the first round last season. Gilmer coach Wesley Tankersley is changing his approach Friday, when the Bobcats travel back to Marist. “Last year, we took charter buses down,” Tankersley said. “We’re taking the old yellow buses this time. We’re trying to go blue-collar, keep the same routine.”
Gilmer is 2-9 all-time on the road in the posteason. Marist is 48-2 at home in the playoffs since 1987.
Junior stars: Lanier hosts Alexander In the only second-round matchup featuring two unranked teams. The Longhorns are led by junior running back Tario Fuller, who has 1,458 yards rushing on the season. Alexander counters with junior running back Mikell Lands-Davis, who is expected to go over the 2,000-yard mark for the season on Friday. Lands-Davis’ 1,957 yards are the most of any player remaining in the playoffs of any classification.
Roundup: In the other AAAA second-round matchups, defending-champion Sandy Creek hosts a Chestatee team, coming off its first playoff win ever. The winner will take on the winner of No. 2 Griffin versus No. 8 Statesboro. … Quarterback Donquell Green and No. 6 Burke County hosts defensive-minded Mary Persons. Burke County is averaging 42.4 points per game. Mary Persons is allowing only 10.3 points. … Veterans hosts No. 7 Wayne County and electric receiver Krenwick Sanders, who caught six touchdowns in the Yellow Jackets’ first-round win over Monroe. … No. 10 Westover hosts No. 9 Stockbridge in Albany. Stockbridge won its first region title last season. Westover won its first region crown this year.
Check it out: Todd Holcomb and the folks at GHSF Daily have a fantastic game-by-game preview with a ton of great nuggets, some of which I borrowed above.