The town of Powder Springs is the only thing standing in the way of
tradition in Class AAAAAA.
Since 1996, the highest classification has been won by teams from Gwinnett
County or South Georgia’s Region 1 with one exception (2006 Roswell).
The only teams left that don’t meet that criterion this season are McEachern
and Hillgrove, crosstown rivals 3.2 miles apart in Powder Springs of western
Hillgrove opened in 2007, taking much of McEachern’s student body with it.
McEachern then suffered its first losing season (4-6) in 23 seasons. The
forecast didn’t seem good, but the two schools are doing better than the one
did just before the split. In the past five seasons, McEachern is 48-10.
Hillgrove is 45-13.
But neither has won a quarterfinal game in that time, and both are underdogs
this week against Gwinnett County opponents. McEachern, playing without
injured star quarterback Ty Clemons so far in the playoffs, travels to Collins Hill. Hillgrove,
fresh off a 34-21 victory over No. 2-ranked Camden County, is a home against
No. 1 North Gwinnett.
The winners will play in the semifinals.
Other things to watch this week in the highest class:
- With a victory over Dacula, Colquitt County can reach the semifinals for
the fifth consecutive season. That would set a record in the highest
classification. Colquitt jointly holds the record with Decatur (1950-53),
Richmond Academy (1959-62), Northside of Atlanta (1954-57) and Valdosta
- The Lowndes-Norcross game matches teams that were written off by some in
early season. Norcross lost 55-0 to B.T. Washington of Miami, now the No. 1
team nationally in most polls, on Aug. 24. Lowndes lost 15-14 at home to
Newton, a team that finished 5-6.