Truett’s Chick-fil-A Sports
By John McClellan
For Hometown Headlines
The state high school football playoffs move into the second round this weekend with six local teams still in the quest for a championship. Rome in Class 5A, Cartersville in Class 4A, Calhoun in Class 3A, Pepperell and Rockmart in Class 2A, and Darlington in Class A Private all will be in action this week.
The 2019 season came to an end Friday night for several teams who had earned playoff berths. The Model Blue Devils were tied 0-0 with Bremen at halftime before losing 17-0 in a Class 2A game that was closer than the final score. The Chattooga Indians also lost in Class 2A 54-7 to a Callaway team who many believe will win the state championship. The Cedartown Bulldogs battled Marist early before dropping a Class 4A game 42-22. The Class 3A playoffs ended with first round losses by the Sonoraville Phoenix to Jefferson 49-17 and the Adairsville Tigers to Jenkins 41-0. The Trion Bulldogs lost in the first round of the Class A Public School playoffs to Commerce 23-6.
Rome (9-2) at Warner Robins (10-1)
- Series History: Warner Robins leads 2-1
- Last Meeting: Warner Robins defeated Rome 45-28 on November 30, 2018 in the Class 5A semifinals.
- Best Playoff Accomplishments: Rome won Class AAAAA state championships in 2016 and 2017. Warner Robins won state championships in Class AAA in 1976 and in Class AAAA in 1981, 1988, and 2004.
- McConnell-Talbert Stadium is a familiar venue for Rome fans and Warner Robins is a familiar opponent for Rome players as the Rome Wolves and Warner Robins play in what may be the best game of the second round in any classification. This is the third straight season these two teams have met with Rome defeating Warner Robins in the 2017 state championship game and the Demons beating the Wolves in the 2018 semifinals. Rome has made three other trips to McConnell-Talbert Stadium with quarterfinal playoff games against Warner Robins in 2004 and Northside of Warner Robins in 2005 and 2007.
- Rome, who is ranked Number 3 in the state, opened the season with a loss to Class 7A Marietta in the Corky Kell Classic followed by a non-region win over North Clayton. The Wolves then went 7-1 and finished second in Region 7 with wins over Kell, Cass, Woodland, East Paulding, Paulding County, Hiram, and Villa Rica and a loss in the game’s closing seconds to Number 1 ranked Carrollton. Rome shutout Lithonia 52-0 in the first round of the playoffs.
- Warner Robins, who is ranked Number 2 in the state, went 5-1 in non-region play with wins over Tift County, Locust Grove, Baldwin, Northside of Warner Robins, and Houston County and a loss to Class 7A Colquitt County. The Demons went 4-0 in region play and captured the Region 1 championship by defeating Harris County, Thomas County Central, Bainbridge, and Veterans. Warner Robins led only 14-7 at halftime before defeating Jonesboro 28-7 in the first round of the playoffs.
- The winner of this game will play the winner of the game between Clarke Central and Wayne County. Rome wins by 4.
Pepperell (9-2) at Thomasville (7-4)
- Series History: First Meeting
- Best Playoff Accomplishments: Pepperell won the 1990 Class AA state championship. Thomasville won state championships in Class AA in 1958 and in Class AAA in 1973, 1974, and 1988.
- The Pepperell Dragons will make the 280-mile trip straight down U.S. 27 for a second round playoff game with the tradition rich Thomasville Bulldogs. The Dragons are in the state playoffs for the 23rd time in the past 29 years as they try to reach the quarterfinals for the first time since 2008. The Thomasville Bulldogs, who lost in the quarterfinals two years ago, have four prior state championships.
- Pepperell, who lost its season opener to Darlington, followed that game with wins over Class 3A playoff teams Pickens and Heritage of Ringgold. The Dragons then went 6-1 and finished second in Region 7 with wins over Gordon Central, Coosa, Model, Dade County, Armuchee, and Chattooga and a loss to Number 1 ranked Rockmart. Pepperell defeated defending state champion Heard County 27-7 in the first round of the playoffs.
- Thomasville, who is ranked sixth in the state, went 2-4 in non-region play with wins over Everglades (Fla.) and Cook and losses to Cairo, Thomas County Central, Colquitt County, and Crisp County. The Bulldogs captured the Region 1 championship with wins over Brooks County, Fitzgerald, Berrien, and Early County. Thomasville came from behind in the fourth quarter to defeat Dodge County 31-26 in the first round of the playoffs.
- The winner of this game will play the winner of the game between Rabun County and Toombs County. Thomasville wins by 6.
Brooks County (7-4) at Rockmart (11-0)
- Series History: First Meeting
- Best Playoff Accomplishments: Brooks County won the 1994 Class A state championship. Rockmart won the 1950 Class A state championship.
- The Brooks County Trojans, who are ranked seventh in the state, will have a long ride on Friday with a 274-mile trip to play the Rockmart Yellow Jackets. This is the 25th anniversary of Brooks County’s lone state championship for a team that has reached either the semifinals, quarterfinals, or second round of the playoffs for 12 straight years. Number 1 Rockmart, who is in excellent position to win its first state championship in 69 years, has won 27 straight regular season games.
- Brooks County opened the year with non-region wins over Mitchell County, Thomas County Central, and BEST Academy and losses to Clinch County, Bainbridge, and Dublin. The Trojans finished second in Region 1 with wins over Early County, Fitzgerald, and Berrien and a loss to Thomasville. Brooks County defeated Washington County 42-14 in the first round of the playoffs.
- Rockmart had non-region wins over Cedartown, Central of Carrollton, and defending state champion Heard County. The Yellow Jackets defeated Armuchee, Dade County, Chattooga, Pepperell, Coosa, Gordon Central, and Model on the way to the Region 7 championship. Rockmart defeated Temple 24-7 in the first round of the playoffs.
- The winner of this game will play the winner of the game between Metter and Union County. Rockmart wins by 1.
Class A Private
Mount Paran Christian (6-4) at Darlington (10-1)
- Series History: Mount Paran leads 2-1
- Last Meeting: Mount Paran defeated Darlington 24-22 on November 4, 2016.
- Best Playoff Accomplishments: Mount Paran won the 2014 Class A Private School state championship. Darlington won the 1998 Class A state championship.
- The Class A Private School second-round playoff game matches two teams from Region 6-A who have met three times in recent years. While Darlington was expected to be here, Mount Paran was one of the few upset winners in the first round of the postseason. Six Region 6-A private schools and one public school still are in contention for a state championship.
- The Mount Paran Eagles opened the season with a non-region win over Our Lady of Mercy before its second scheduled game against Class A Public Number 1 was canceled by inclement weather. The Eagles were 3-4 in subregion play with wins over Kings Ridge Christian, Mount Pisgah Christian, and Pinecrest Academy and losses to Fellowship Christian, Whitefield Academy, Walker, and St. Francis before beating Trion 27-7 in a region crossover game. Mount Paran upset Aquinas 29-27 in the first round of the playoffs.
- The Darlington Tigers were 3-0 in non-region play with wins over Pepperell, Coosa, and Sonoraville. The Tigers finished first in Subregion A with wins over Gordon Lee, Mt. Zion, Christian Heritage, Trion, Bowdon, and North Cobb Christian before losing to Fellowship Christian in the Region 6 championship game. Darlington received a bye in the first round of the playoffs.
- The winner of this game will play the winner of the game between Holy Innocents and St. Francis in the second round of the playoffs. Darlington wins by 18.
Thomson (6-5) at Cartersville (11-0)
- Series History: Cartersville leads 2-0
- Last Meeting: Cartersville defeated Thomson 58-7 on December 10, 2016 in the Class AAAA state championship game.
- Best Playoff Accomplishments: Thomson won state championships in Class A in 1967 and 1968, Class AAA in 1984 and 1985, and Class AAAA in 2002. Cartersville won state championships in Class AA in 1991 and 1999 and Class AAAA in 2015 and 2016.
- The Number 1 ranked Cartersville Purple Hurricanes, who have the state’s longest regular season winning streak, have only lost one regular season game—and that was by one point to Class 6A North Cobb—in the past eight years and have played in the state finals four of the past five years. The Thomson Bulldogs, who were ranked 10th in the state at one time this season, before only finishing 5-5 in the regular season, lost to Cartersville in the 2016 state finals.
- Thomson defeated North Augusta (S.C.) and Eagles Landing to open the year before losing four straight non-region games to Clarke Central, Greater Atlanta Christian, Grovetown, and Lee County. The Bulldogs finished second in Region 3 with wins over Baldwin, Cross Creek, and Richmond Academy and a loss to Burke County. Thomson defeated Hardaway 34-0 in the first round of the playoffs.
- Cartersville was 4-0 in non-region play with wins over Allatoona, Luella, McNair, and Cherokee. The Purple Hurricanes won the Region 5 championship with wins over Cedartown, Central of Carrollton, LaGrange, Sandy Creek, Chapel Hill, and Troup. Cartersville defeated Number 10 ranked Flowery Branch 14-6 in the first round of the playoffs.
- The winner of this game will play the winner of the game between Woodward Academy and St. Pius X in the second round. Cartersville wins by 19.
Calhoun (10-1) at Peach County (10-1)
- Series History: Calhoun leads 2-1
- Last Meeting: Peach County defeated Calhoun 22-7 on November 30, 2018 in the Class 3A semifinals.
- Best Playoff Accomplishments: Calhoun won state championships in Class C in 1952, Class AA in 2011, and Class AAA in 2014 and 2017. Peach County won Class AAA state championships in 2005, 2006, and 2009.
- Two teams with an interesting recent history will meet in Fort Valley in this second round Class 3A playoff game. Calhoun went into overtime to defeat Peach County in the second round of the 2015 playoffs and survived in a 10-7 win over the Trojans in the 2017 state championship game amid controversy over the officiating late in the game. Peach County eliminated Calhoun in last year’s semifinals.
- Calhoun was unbeaten in non-region play with wins over Ridgeland and Therrell. The Yellow Jackets finished second in Region 6—its first season since 2000 without a region championship—with wins over Sonoraville, Ringgold, Adairsville, Murray County, Coahulla Creek, Haralson County, and Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe and a loss to North Murray. Calhoun defeated Morgan County 38-10 in the first round of the playoffs.
- Number 1 ranked Peach County was 3-1 in non-region play with wins over Northside of Warner Robins, Lee County, and Mary Persons and a loss to Houston County. The Trojans won the Region 4 championship with wins over Kendrick, Pike County, Rutland, Central of Macon, Jackson, and Westside of Macon. Peach County defeated Brantley County 14-7 in the first round of the playoffs.
- The winner of this game will play the winner of the game between Cedar Grove and Benedictine. Peach County wins by 20.
REGION AND STATE
Elsewhere across Northwest Georgia, several other teams also saw their seasons come to an end. Teams eliminated in the first round included North Paulding in Class 7A; Heritage of Catoosa, Northwest Whitfield, Pickens, Ridgeland, and Troup in Class 4A; Haralson County in Class 3A; Heard County and Temple in Class 2A; and Whitefield Academy in Class A Private.
Other teams across the regions in Northwest Georgia will be in action in Friday night’s second round. South Paulding will travel to Houston County in Class 6A; Hiram will be at Griffin, Carrollton will host Veterans, and Kell will visit Starr’s Mill in Class 5A; Sandy Creek will be at home against Americus-Sumter in Class 4A; North Murray will host Jackson in Class 3A; Callaway will be at home against Fitzgerald and Bremen will travel to Dublin in Class 2A; Christian Heritage will host Wesleyan, North Cobb Christian will be at Fellowship Christian, and St. Francis will visit Holy Innocents in Class A Private, and Bowdon will host Warren County in Class A Public.
Here are the predictions for all the second-round state playoff games:
- Mill Creek (9-2) over Roswell (8-2) by 10
- Marietta (9-2) over Milton (8-3) by 10
- Archer (8-3) over Cherokee (8-3) by 17
- Colquitt County (9-2) over Parkview (10-1) by 19
- Grayson (10-1) over East Coweta (6-5) by 20
- Lowndes (11-0) over Norcross (6-5) by 33
- North Gwinnett (10-1) over Walton (6-5) by 26
- McEachern (11-0) over North Forsyth (7-4) by 34
- Allatoona (8-2-1) over Stephenson (10-1) by 6
- Coffee (8-3) over Mays (10-1) by 8
- Richmond Hill (7-3) over Lanier (10-1) by 3
- Valdosta (9-2) over Johns Creek (10-1) by 18
- Dacula (11-0) over Glynn Academy (6-4) by 15
- Lee County (10-1) over Creekside (7-4) by 19
- Harrison (11-0) over Brunswick (6-5) by 20
- Houston County (6-5) over South Paulding (9-2) by 3
- Jones County (10-1) over Cedar Shoals (8-3) by 16
- Griffin (10-1) over Hiram (6-5) by 16
- Buford (10-1) over Ware County (8-3) by 6
- Carrollton (11-0) over Veterans (9-2) by 13
- Clarke Central (8-3) over Wayne County (8-2) by 1
- Rome (9-2) over Warner Robins (10-1) by 4
- Riverwood (11-0) over Dutchtown (10-1) by 9
- Kell (9-2) over Starr’s Mill (8-3) by 8
- Woodward Academy (11-0) over St. Pius X (6-5) by 14
- Cartersville (11-0) over Thomson (6-5) by 19
- West Laurens (10-1) over North Oconee (10-1) by 15
- Blessed Trinity (10-1) over Baldwin (5-6) by 15
- Oconee County (10-1) over Perry (7-4) by 10
- Marist (10-1) over Carver of Columbus (10-1) by 10
- Mary Persons (6-5) over Madison County (5-6) by 25
- Sandy Creek (10-1) over Americus-Sumter (6-5) by 24
- Peach County (10-1) over Calhoun (10-1) by 20
- Cedar Grove (9-2) over Benedictine (8-3) by 17
- Pierce County (11-0) over Hart County (9-2) by 7
- Greater Atlanta Christian (10-1) over Cook (4-7) by 21
- Jefferson (9-1) over Appling County (9-2) by 9
- Crisp County (8-3) over North Hall (8-3) by 13
- North Murray (10-1) over Jackson (8-3) by 3
- Jenkins (10-1) over Dawson County (8-3) by 4
- Douglass (10-1) over Jefferson County (9-2) by 2
- Callaway (10-1) over Fitzgerald (8-3) by 9
- Metter (10-1) over Union County (10-1) by 5
- Rockmart (11-0) over Brooks County (7-4) by 1
- Rabun County (11-0) over Toombs County (8-2) by 15
- Thomasville (7-4) over Pepperell (9-2) by 6
- Hapeville Charter (9-1-1) over Swainsboro (8-3) by 15
- Dublin (10-1) over Bremen (8-3) by 16
Class A Private
- Wesleyan (9-2) over Christian Heritage (9-1) by 6
- Savannah Country Day (10-0) over Savannah Christian (7-3) by 1
- Mount de Sales (10-0) over Hebron Christian (7-4) by 4
- Fellowship Christian (10-0) over North Cobb Christian (8-3) by 19
- Darlington (9-1) over Mount Paran Christian (6-4) by 18
- Holy Innocents (10-0) over St. Francis (7-4) by 23
- Eagles Landing Christian (9-1) over Prince Avenue Christian (9-2) by 23
- Athens Academy (10-0) over Brookstone (7-4) by 30
Class A Public
- Manchester (9-2) over Johnson County (8-2) by 12
- Irwin County (9-0) over Chattahoochee County (7-4) by 47
- Bowdon (8-2) over Warren County (7-4) by 5
- Clinch County (9-1) over Emanuel County Institute (6-5) by 22
- Lincoln County (8-2) over Commerce (9-2) by 9
- Marion County (8-2) over Schley County (7-4) by 4
- Pelham (9-1) over Wilcox County (9-2) by 7
- Mitchell County (9-1) over Turner County (7-4) by 18