By David Purdum / For the AJC
Judging by online chatter, Stockbridge’s home-field atmosphere–announcer, crowd and officials–have gotten under the skin of a few visiting fans bases, including Griffin’s.
“I’m not sure we got under Griffin’s skin,” said Stockbridge coach Kevin Whitley. “They beat us 35-14.”
Whitley is hoping for a different result Friday, when No. 4 Carrollton visits in a AAAA quarterfinal matchup. Stockbridge was just beginning its rise, when the Tigers traveled to Carrollton in 2011 for a second-round game against the Trojans. The Trojans would overwhelm the young Tigers, 35-10.
“We were shell-shocked. It was just our second time in the playoffs, and it was very intimidating to our kids,” said Whitley. “Even our coaches were saying, ‘Look at this stadium, look at the weight room.’ It was more like a vacation than a business trip.”
Whitley hopes his home atmosphere also will have an impact this week, but knows, with school out, the crowd might not be at full strength.
“I hope they show up,” he said.
They should, because Whitley has transformed this program from perennial pushover to perennial power.
Stockbridge had never won more than seven games, before Whitley arrived in 2009. The Tigers are 39-13 in Whitley’s five seasons and are making only their second appearance in the state quarterfinals.
The Tigers’ only loss this season came against No. 2 Griffin. Carrollton’s only loss came against No. 1 Sandy Creek.
No. 1 vs. No. 2: Defending champion Sandy Creek has won 14 consecutive home playoff games, but will get one of its sternest tests from a tough Griffin team this week. The second-ranked Bears held Statesboro to just 147 yards of offense in last week’s win. Griffin has outscored opponents, 529-97. The top-ranked Patriots pasted Chestatee, 55-7, last week to advance to the quarterfinals for the sixth straight season.
Road woes: Marist has lost six of its last seven road playoff games and is 10-17 on the road in the postseason since 1987. The War Eagles will try to rectify those struggles at Burke County. The game features a matchup between dynamic Burke County quarterback Donquell Green and Marist defensive lineman Kendall Baker. Green has rushed for 1,506 yards and passed for 1,198 yards. Baker leads Marist with 10 tackles for loss.
Upstart: Alexander heads to Wayne County looking to become the 14th fourth seed to reach the semifinals of the state playoffs, according to Georgia High School Football Daily. The Cougars, the fourth seed out of Region 5-AAAA, are making their first appearance in the state quarterfinals. Wayne County hasn’t reached the semifinals since 1976.
Notes: The guys at Georgia High School Football Daily have another encompassing preview of the AAAA quarterfinals right here.