Football: Playoff Homewreckers
Here’s our list of visiting teams you don’t want to play in the first round of the state high school football playoffs.
Tucker (8-2, third seed, 6-AAA) at Dalton: Who wants to host a defending state champion in the first round? The Tigers haven’t had to play a first-round playoff game on the road in more than 10 years. They are one of the best rushing teams in the state, averaging about 280 yards per game and have great speed on both sides of the ball.
Colquitt County (8-2, third seed, 1-AAAAA) at Westlake: The Packers have impressive wins over Valdosta, Thomasville and Warner Robins. Also, a 3-piont loss to Northside Warner Robins in the season finale is respectable. The Packers benefit from a tougher schedule and are enjoying a revival under second-year coach Rush Probst (formerly of Hoover, Ala.).
Brookwood (5-5, fourth seed, 8-AAAAA) at McEachern: The Broncos had a brutal regular season schedule with losses to five playoff teams including No. 1 Grayson, No. 2 North Gwinnett and No. 6 McEachern. The Broncos lost to McEachern 42-32 in the season opener at the Georgia Dome. Four of their five losses were by 10 points or less. The Broncos will be fueled by a proud playoff tradition.
Statesboro (6-4, fourth seed, 2-AAAA) at Lakeside Evans: The Blue Devils have a big 3-0 win over Ware County on their resume this season. Playoff experience always is a critical factor in early rounds and the Blue Devils have plenty compared to a Lakeside team that is making its first playoff appearance since 2000.
Rockdale County (7-3, third seed, 8-AAAA) at Banneker: The Bulldogs are one of the hottest teams in AAAA. Their six-game winning streak includes wins over playoff teams Clarke Central and Loganville. The Bulldogs struggled with Monroe Area to close out the regular season but come into the postseason on a definite roll. Their three losses are by a combined 17 pints, including a 6-point loss to undefeated Apalachee.
Flowery Branch (7-3, third seed, 7-AAA) at Ridgeland: The Falcons high-powered spread offense will test a Ridgeland team that has registered five shutouts this season. Quarterback Connor Shaw is a South Carolina commitment and leads one of the most potent offenses in the state. The Falcons have scored at least 30 points nine times and have hit 48 points or more in four games.
Brooks County (8-2, third seed, 1-AA) at Putnam County: The Trojans’ only losses are to No. 2 Fitzgerald and No. 8 Thomasville. A rugged regular season plus experience in the postseason could help the Trojans through the first couple of rounds.
Dublin (7-3, fourth seed, 3-AA) at Charlton County: A season-ending loss to Jefferson County dropped the Irish into the unenviable fourth spot. The only other time these two teams have met was 2006 in the state championship game. That ended in a 13-13 tie. The three losses this season have come by a combined total of 15 points. This one will definitely be an uphill battle as the Indians do not lose often in The Swamp.
Athens Academy (7-3, third seed, 8-A) at Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy: The Spartans closed with two strong wins after a disappointing 31-0 loss to defending state champion Wesleyan. History is on the Spartans’ side as they have won eight of their last 10 first-round playoff games over the past 11 seasons.