Powder Springs-Suwanee rivalry brings excitement: We want more

The cities of Powder Springs and Suwanee faced off in two of the state’s best football games in the quarterfinals. They split 1-1, each scoring the winning points in the final two minutes.

They’ll go at it again in a rubber game and semifinal next week as North Gwinnett (Suwanee) plays McEachern (Powder Springs) at a home field to be determined by a coin flip.

That game, or even the coin flip, will be hard-pressed to match the suspense of the quarterfinals.

North Gwinnett beat McEachern’s closest Cobb County neighbor, Hillgrove, 35-31 on a 10-yard touchdown pass from Hayden Sphire to Daniel Imatorbhebhe with 1:13 left. Entering the game, Imatorbhebhe had been a solid fourth receiver but with only one of North Gwinnett’s 40 touchdown passes.

McEachern beat Collins Hill 35-32 on an 85-yard punt return by Taj Griffin with 1:00 left. Collins Hill had come from 28-10 down to lead.

Both winning teams then intercepted passes near the goal line in the final 10 seconds to clinch their victories.

Other story lines from the AAAAAA quarterfinals:

- No. 1 in perseverance – The No. 1 ranking in the regular season was shared by Norcross, North Gwinnett and Colquitt County. All lost the top ranking at some point. All three made the semifinals, as did McEachern, which got as high as No. 2 after a 7-0 start, only to be bounced from the Top 10 altogether after a 1-2 finish.

- At home on the road – Colquitt County became the first team in history to reach the semifinals five straight times in the highest class with a 42-17 victory over Dacula. Colquitt has won 13 road playoff games in the past five years, as many as any other school over the past 25 years. The Packers will travel to Norcross next week.

- Clues from the Kell – The last three games of the season-opening Corky Kell Classic at the Georgia Dome were won by North Gwinnett, Colquitt County and McEachern. Each is now one victory from returning to the Dome for the championship game Dec. 14. Several eventual state champions have won their openers at the Kell Classic, including Brookwood in 2010 and Grayson in 2011.

167 comments Add your comment

UncleIndian

November 30th, 2013
12:28 am

CONGRATS MCEACHERN INDIANS!!!!!! WAY TO NEVER, EVER GIVE UP!!!!

westcobb5

November 30th, 2013
12:49 am

Ditto that UncleIndian. That’s two weeks in a row where it would have been easy to lay down and quit when things weren’t looking very good. Maybe it’s destiny and this is our year, but what a resilient, never-say-die team.

westcobb5

November 30th, 2013
12:51 am

Region 4 is gaining a little bit more respect . . . one game at a time.

OMacG

November 30th, 2013
1:09 am

That defense came to play yet again…been like a completely different unit since some “medicine” had to be given for our ailments prior to the Hillgrove game. Outside of that opening gadget play, I don’t know that Collins Hill had 30 yards of offense in the first half…but nobody felt safe with the lead. That was a good football team across the field from us…and they showed it in the 2nd half. But #7 has flat risen to the occasion these past two games and shown he is worthy of the accolades he receives. He has taken grit and toughness up another notch and the whole team has benefited from it. I told that crowd in my vehicle on the way back to P-Town that we oughtta celebrate with a little “Jack” tonight in his honor…Old No. 7.

I don’t generally care to get on the refereeing…but I gotta say they sure were quick with some of the flags during the barrage of penalties we received in the 3rd quarter. Some were legit, for sure…but some sure danced on the border line of a kid just going hard on a play.

westcobb5

November 30th, 2013
1:20 am

“Old No. 7″ :)

McEachernMom

November 30th, 2013
1:44 am

What an absolutely AMAZING game. The Indians played hard and with lots of heart. Love those guys. Way to go Indians!!!

Gwinnett Fan

November 30th, 2013
3:18 am

In the end, the best are still standing.

North
Norcross
Colquitt
McEachern

There were many pretenders in the top ten all year but in the end the true cream rises to the top. I give a lot of credit to Collins Hill, Hillgrove and Camden as well as they are part of the elite teams this year. It has been a great year for High School Football.

- No. 1 in perseverance – The No. 1 ranking in the regular season was shared by Norcross, North Gwinnett and Colquitt County. All lost the top ranking at some point. All three made the semifinals, as did McEachern, which got as high as No. 2 after a 7-0 start, only to be bounced from the Top 10 altogether after a 1-2 finish.

BulldogsStillBite

November 30th, 2013
3:42 am

Well round 2 of Powder Springs vs Suwanee happens next week…who would have thought two #3 seeds would actually have a shot at a home playoff game. These are not normal #3 seeds though, we will be excited to either welcome you to Suwanee or come to your place and battle for that return trip to the Dome…two teams who understand how to fight through the adversity of losing your QB and making adjustments. Now that two of the hottest teams in the playoffs are now gone……the objective is to get the “W”; it may not look pretty or flashy, but WIN. You don’t get to this game coming up without some fight…glad we are back after a 6 year absence. NG like McE has had teams talented enough to certainly get to this game in the past, but it seems this years versions have found that missing piece to push past the qtr finals. I have had fun on the blogs this season – getting to December and still in it with a chance to win is awesome. Next Friday someone will punch their return ticket; I can say with certainty, it will NOT be without a fight. So stay healthy/get healthy and let’s see who wants it more….it will be fun to watch, that’s for certain. So let’s see who gets the flip….either way, I am not afraid of NG’s chances. Playing on the playoff road was probably the best thing that could have happened to them this season – my prediction: wherever the game is played, it will be a battle to the end (only fitting). Nobody will dominate the other, but the one who makes the fewest mistakes will most certainly win this one. All season long, NG has faced teams with better athletes across the lines, but they have managed to dispatch them one by one….let’s see what happens come Friday night

Jimb

November 30th, 2013
6:49 am

Collin hill one pass to many, Dacula and lowndes over matched, the best are left. Could be a 7aaaaaa final or no 7aaaaaaa at all.

THE TRUTH

November 30th, 2013
8:56 am

NG i hope your ready for speed and a lot of it! Those Indians are fast all around! #7 is THE TRUTH!!!

Sportsnut

November 30th, 2013
10:55 am

Congrats to the Mac team. Pulling for you next week. Keep up the good work.

RobFromNorcross

November 30th, 2013
11:06 am

The Sportsnut “kiss of death” has been placed squarely onto another unsuspecting team…

jimb

November 30th, 2013
11:41 am

where is Lowdnes Lowdness, no where to be found until next year, the future post, We are very young, we are very fast, we are scoring 90 points against Mary of Martha school. We play very strong AAA schools. Now I do think the game to watch is Norcross and Colquitt two very good teams and the teams to beat for the state final. I do believe we will see a rematch, Norcross vs North Gwinnett.

yo

November 30th, 2013
12:49 pm

@jimb Norcross looked like Mary of Martha against that Florida team. Their true nature the Mary of Martha look will return for them in 6 more days. Norcross becomes a late Thanksgiving feast and then Colquit will clean up the scraps the following week. NG is the luckiest team with no defense to still be playing.

yo

November 30th, 2013
12:50 pm

What do you have when you put North Gwinnetts offense with Norcross defense? Colquit

squirrell

November 30th, 2013
1:11 pm

I was not that impressed with the Norcross offense. Lowndes gave them a few TDs on turnovers. I don’t see them scoring more than 10 on the Packer D. The Packer offense will make Lowndes offense look like a little league team.

Should be a great atmosphere with two great teams. Without too many turnovers on either side, my prediction is 24-10 Pack!

RobFromNorcross

November 30th, 2013
1:38 pm

@squirrell == While you are knocking down the Norcross offense you might want to give the Lowndes D some credit. I certainly do. They are fast and physical and we expected that from Lowndes. In fact Vikings fans have been talking all week about how great the defense is, and I think they showed many signs of that last night.

Norcross offense had 174 yards in the first half when the game was still in question. We tried to give Lowndes a TD on a turnover with the muffed punt at the Norcross 16 early in the second quarter but you wanted to give us the ball back on the next play.

At about the mid point of the third quarter, Norcross offense went over 270 yards offense, and we pretty much went into run the clock down mode for the rest of the game. We had four dropped passes that we need to fix next week. We tried to do nothing in the fourth quarter except to run down the clock. We knew that without an effective passing game, it was the right strategy to seal the win.

I have the utmost respect for Colquitt, and we will prepare for a team that we know pretty well at this point with 3 meetings in the past 16 months. I think Norcross will be ready once again Friday night whether or not you are impressed.

squirrell

November 30th, 2013
1:59 pm

OK, 24-14 Pack!

jimb

November 30th, 2013
2:19 pm

I believe I said Colquitt and Norcross belonged. Dacula took a pounding in Region 7 so don’t use that game. Region 8 except for Archer was very weak. Norcross took a pounding and was not prepared for the first three games of the year.They also trailed In many games this year. Lowndes wasn’t a first class team either, probably a sixth or seventh place team in Region 7. North is weak on defense, should’ve, could’ve but didn’t lose. Thats the game of football ask Mill Creek. Colquitt dosen’t need to earn respect they are a permanent part of State PLayoff games, but struggle with Gwinnett Power Teams.Its certain thay will win a title, after so many trips they should win one.

yo

November 30th, 2013
2:44 pm

Norcross is about to repeat the Grayson mantra last year, this year and again next year. Great junior class, underachieving senior class, uh oh where did every body go? :-)

squirrell

November 30th, 2013
3:31 pm

RobfromNorcross…..I know you guys have seen the Packers 3 times in the last 16 months, but I also know you ain’t never faced THIS Packer TEAM!

Enough Said!

WildHawg2012

November 30th, 2013
4:21 pm

This Norcross/Colquitt game should be a state title game but its not but it sure will feel like it. Congrats Norcross on your win and making it to the final 4 again

NGHS 09

November 30th, 2013
4:55 pm

@ yo… “NG is the luckiest team with no defense to still be playing.” You act like you have more class than Bksmith14, but then you say stuff like this LOL. NG has played two teams with outstanding offenses. Archer had 2 RBs, a QB, a TE, and 3 WRs that are all studs. Hillgrove’s Ironside threw his 40th TD pass of the season last night, and their WRs and RB are studs. NG made big stops all throughout both of their last two games, but, more often than not NG has committed a penalty that gives the other team’s offense a new set of downs. Our defense is very good, but our discipline is a big concern on key plays. That doesn’t equal a bad defense. That equals 16, 17, 18 year old players being 16, 17, 18 year old high school kids. We’ve played two VERY good teams in a row and prevailed. Call it luck, call it whatever you want to, but we are still playing football this Friday. :)

NGHS 09

November 30th, 2013
4:57 pm

Coach Maloof has ascended to an elite coach. There, I said it! LOL You can’t deny a fact. Glad to see Norcross consistently playing at the level they are more than capable of!

NGHS 09

November 30th, 2013
5:01 pm

@ Yo…You are spewing the same garbage that Bksmith14 did ALL of last week. You’ve picked up where he left off.

NGHS 09

November 30th, 2013
5:05 pm

@the truth…#7 is the real deal there’s no doubt about it!! The MAC has great speed on the perimeter of their defense and big interior DL. Running the ball on them will require some smart play calling and trickery. Hillgrove shredded us with the wildcat formation in the second half last night and I see the MAC doing the same thing unfortunately. The MAC also plays man coverage very well so it could be a long night for NG.

NGHS 09

November 30th, 2013
5:10 pm

But i would be remiss of course if I didn’t mention that Colquitt is the greatest team and there’s no reason for anyone to even play them because they are going to destroy Norcross and then the winner of the MAC/NG game. Why even try? It’s hopeless and impossible. I made the statement, immediately after watching Colquitt’s defense in the Dome against Grayson, that Colquitt’s defense is the best in the state in any classification when they play like that. I’ll be as realistic as possible, but even I can’t deny the impossibility of conceiving that anyone will beat Colquitt in the next two weeks :) .

NGHS 09

November 30th, 2013
5:17 pm

@Squirrell… “Lowndes gave them a few TDs on turnovers.” Yeah Lowndes just handed the ball off to the Norcross defense. The 11 guys in silver and navy blue were so “lucky” to get such a gift!! I mean heck, if I didn’t watch the game, according to your analysis I’d think Norcross didn’t have anything to do with the Lowndes offense’s struggles. I wonder if Norcross is even aware of this!!?? :)

squirrell

November 30th, 2013
5:33 pm

You better hope you can create some turnovers because that’s the only way Devils win!

Turnovers won’t be the only hope for the Pack!

BulldogsStillBite

December 1st, 2013
12:20 am

Seems to me some pack fans have taken to writing those team NSF checks. Yeah they looked good against NC and Dacula, an undersized defense (NC) and overmatched (Dacula). They will still have play well to win. It will NOT be the pushover game some of y’all think it will be. Keep thinking that way….it’ll be a long trip back to Moultrie WITH NO HARDWARE TO SHOW FOR IT if your team thinks the same way. If Colquitt thinks they will run successfully on Norcross, they will have tough sledding. This is a game they will have to win throwing the ball; they are capable, but it is not guaranteed…..as for NG, it has been a long time since we were playing in December. Another team on the other side of the ball with playmaking athletes. Call them what you want, but they keep WINNING….beat the team that sent Camden to the bleachers….the team that made Colquitt road warriors once again. McE and Colquitt both can be beat….you both have the Ls to prove that. Thanks Sportsnut for picking McE winner against us….stay with that trend please!!!!! Since CH we have run the ball a lot more, out of necessity but having that ability is why we are still here. Our defense is not perfect, but they have shown they can make plays when it matters. If we are anywhere in the zip code of the Indians in the 4th qtr, it will be tough for them to win…it will not be easy though…they have shown they can finish a game too. Colquitt will finally face a team that can hit them in the mouth with something that hurts….that is a game where the team who makes the fewest mistakes will win. In the end, who knows what will happen next Friday? I sure as heck don’t – but I do know some incredible football will be witnessed without a doubt. North has yet to play 48 minutes of sound football in these playoffs – but they ARE STILL IN IT….imagine for a minute happens this Friday….whoever is on the other side of the ball will not matter. Some say it is better to be lucky than good….I don’t believe in luck, but destiny on the other hand….is a different story. When everybody gets geared up this Friday, we will see….best to the rest that are still in

NGHS 09

December 1st, 2013
12:32 am

@ squirrell… I’m not a Norcross fan so I won’t be “hoping” for anything LOL. The facts are the facts regardless of how much hot air you waste trying to skew the facts. :)

BulldogsStillBite

December 1st, 2013
12:40 am

Glad we are still in…despite our one-legged quarterback and porous defense…..LOL

NGHS 09

December 1st, 2013
12:42 am

@ BulldogsStillBite… You made some very good points in that last post. Albeit, I’m still waiting for someone to ask the “elephant in the room” question…Can MAC slow down NG’s passing game if it catches fire? Collins Hill was down by 18 points and then exploded to regain the lead late in the 4th quarter because of their passing attack. Special teams will obviously be a strength for Hillgrove, but I would love to hear a logical answer to my question regarding MACs pass defense. Tyler Herman was launching rockets left and right during the 18 pt deficit comeback. Can anyone that watched the game (live) provide an analysis of this? I predict another close score and the winner will be whoever gets the football last.

NG has better receivers 1-4 than Collins Hill and arguably a better QB in Sphire. But!!! Just because you look better on paper doesn’t mean ANYTHING with regards to predicting a winner.

NGHS 09

December 1st, 2013
12:50 am

Leggett has been in beast mode ever since the Mountainview game. He’s averaging around 150 yards rushing per game (460 total) in the playoffs and has scored 7 TDs, along with a 5.7 yd per carry avg. He’s in beast mode undoubtedly. He’s also helped invaluably with the protection of Hayden Sphire. Both Hayden and C.J. will play through pain if it means a chance at the state title. I’m just waiting for Sphire to unleash his arsenal because he’s gotten better and better over the last two games. The pass protection will be very difficult Friday night, but it really just needs to be above average for his arm to lead us down the field. C.J. and CH’s Henderson are first ballot all-county players. Imagine if they were both on the same team. :0

UncleIndian

December 1st, 2013
1:27 am

@NGHS 09 CH had one long pass play go for a TD on broken coverage from Indian secondary. They got their pts from field position because of penalties against McEachern. 30+yds of personal foul penalties pushed McEachern back inside their own 10yd line and CH ran a punt back for TD, then 2 facemask penalties on McEachern D gave them another 30yds and they scored a rushing TD. So CH QB wasn’t passing all over the place as you say, I was there at the game. McEachern D actually played a good game. All the 2nd half penalties brought CH back in the game and eventually the lead. The penalties were very questionable, but that happens playing on the road. Indians weathered that and Taj ran punt back to win game for us. So no offense, but if you were not there please don’t say CH passing game brought them back. Hard to stop 40+yards of questionable penalties!

UncleIndian

December 1st, 2013
1:31 am

I mean 60+yds of questionable penalties

NGHS 09

December 1st, 2013
1:32 am

@ UncleIndian… My comment on CH’s passing game was intended for bringing out a true statement and you have provided that. Penalties will drive the fans nuts and piss the players and coaches off. NG has had their fair share of penalties in the last two weeks. All penalties are questionable at the high school level, but teams just have to suck it up since there is not instant replay rule. You should have assurance in the above statements that “NG has not defense” :) . Should be a cake walk for yal.

NGHS 09

December 1st, 2013
1:33 am

NG had 130 yards in the penalties against Archer. The majority of that yardage was the result of a personal foul penalty being called.

UncleIndian

December 1st, 2013
1:36 am

you guys are a very good team, cake walk, I don’t think so, I expect nothing but a battle with you guys, good luck Friday

NGHS 09

December 1st, 2013
1:38 am

Oh and one more thing Uncle, the majority of long pass plays are a result of broken coverage. I don’t know who’s gonna win Friday, but don’t put any stock in the fact that NG lost to Collins Hill 53-28. That was another game in which, like you said, “if you were not there please don’t say . . .” Has the venue been decided yet?

NGHS 09

December 1st, 2013
1:39 am

@Uncle… The cake-walk comment was sarcasm directed @ the south georgia blog trolls :)

UncleIndian

December 1st, 2013
1:40 am

no, coin flip later this am

UncleIndian

December 1st, 2013
1:41 am

understood friend, lol

NGHS 09

December 1st, 2013
1:47 am

Alright thanks, I’ll keep an eye out for the announcement tomorrow. MAC has an awesome stadium and atmosphere so Sphire’s recent coin-flip struggles won’t be as much of a burden for Friday’s game. I remember Sphire’s first year as NG’s head coach and we stomped Etowah at the MAC on our way to deliverance..I mean Tift County!!! LOL. I wonder if that Indian moves when nobody is watching.

UncleIndian

December 1st, 2013
1:50 am

I’ll be doing the same and again may we have an injury free, good game Friday night!!

richsethhardy

December 1st, 2013
6:11 am

(taps mic) is this thing on?

richsethhardy

December 1st, 2013
6:21 am

Ignore the arrogant packer fans. One would think after being put out in the semi-finals the past few years that they would have learned some humility. Sensable packer fans know that Norcross, by far, is the best team we will face this season. Like it or not, the Norcross defense presents some real problems for our offense. If they turn the ball over like they did against Dacula, we will be on the couch watching the state championship. However, unlike last seasons meeting, Colquitt has a defense that can keep us in ANY game. I expect the game to be close and low scoring, provided we dont turn it over. I think that we match up well with the Norcross offense. We can stop the run and have had success against mobile QBs. We will have to make Norcross beat us through the air. These teams know each other well and it should be a great fight friday night. I sure hope my Packers prevail.

richsethhardy

December 1st, 2013
6:22 am

On another note, I agree with the poster above. All the pretenders have been weeded out and the 4 best teams remain!

My2Cents

December 1st, 2013
9:48 am

@NGHS0 09….I was at the CH/McE game and my take was a little different, but I agree with most of your sentiments. I agree NG has way more dynamic receivers 1-4 which will give the man coverage McE used against CH fits. I completely disagree with your assessment that Sphire is better than Herman. You make that point when you say Sphire is throwing to recievers better & more dynamic. Not to mention Herman is bigger, stronger and faster. All this being said I think NG will move the football on McEachern. They are a very stout D, but NG has way to many weapons and a great offensive minded Head Coach.

@ Uncle Indian….Because you are so clearly biased you think the calls by the refs were questionable. From my vantage point the refs missed more then they made. I could make the point if McE wasn’t grabbing facemasks that CH would have scored more often. I think Herman’s Stats were something like 22-40 with about 4-5 dropped passes which is 60% or better. That is pretty much throwing it around. As far as the TD down the middle of the field, you are completely wrong about that being broken coverage. That play was there all night. McE’s game plan was to have their two high safeties cover the wide outs leaving the middle of the field wide open. I was suprised CH didn’t expose that all night until McE had to make an adjustment.

If you put the whole night into perspective it was very close all around. “The Eagles nearly pitched a second-half shutout against the potent Indians’ offense, giving up just an early third-quarter touchdown on a short field after a blocked punt. Though highly touted junior Taj Griffin finished with 151 rushing yards, he gained on 30 yards on 10 second-half carries.

#McEachern gained just 115 second-half yards, which allowed Collins Hill’s offense to claw back for a 32-28 lead that was erased when Griffin returned a punt 85 yards for a score with a minute left.

#But the Collins Hill defense did its part in the comeback, forcing four straight punts on the Indians’ last four possessions”

I think CH should have gone for it on 4th down on their first drive instead of kicking the field goal. I also think CH should not have tried that 55 yd fg attempt before half. I think they had enough time to make a play. And Uncle Indian if Herman’s last pass is 6 inches higher it goes for the game winning TD. All this being said, I think McE came out way more inspired and played hard nosed football all night. I think McE’s O will give NG a very difficult time. Using both QB’s was a great strategy & Griffin is the real deal. I think this is going to come down to which D can make the most plays.

IndianPride

December 1st, 2013
9:56 am

The Mighty McEachern Indians will host the Mighty Bulldogs from North Gwinnett on Friday on the reservation at Walter Cantrell Stadium. Both teams are doing awesome and it should be a fun and exciting matchup!