John McClellan’s high school football playoff picks: Rome, Darlington, Cartersville, Calhoun, Rockmart to advance.

John McClellan’s high school football playoff picks: Rome, Darlington, Cartersville, Calhoun, Rockmart to advance.

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The 2020 Georgia High School Association regular season, which started two weeks later than scheduled due to COVID-19, is over and playoffs are ready to start Thanksgiving weekend for 255 teams across the state.

Ten local schools enter the postseason with Rome in Class 6A, Calhoun and Cartersville in Class 5A, Cedartown in Class 4A, Adairsville and Rockmart in Class 3A, Darlington in Class A Private and Chattooga, Model and Pepperell in Class 2A beginning their quests for state championships. The season is over for Armuchee, Cass, Coosa, Sonoraville, and Woodland until 2021.

There are 16 games in each of the state’s eight classifications with the exception of Class A Private where Savannah Christian drew a first round bye after Our Lady of Mercy’s decision to cancel football left only three schools left to compete for four playoff spots from Region 2-A Private. Although a slight majority of schools played full 10-game schedules and most other schools played either eight or nine games, some playoff teams played as few as five games due to COVID-19 and/or local school board policies that delayed the start of the season. At least one team in Class A Private reached the playoffs without winning a single game and the Number 1 team in Class 3A has a 1-4 record due to playing only five games and having to forfeit three wins on the field due to inadvertent use of an ineligible player. One other change from recent years affected Class A Public and Private School teams as the elimination of power rankings meant playoff brackets and seedings will be determined by region standings in the same way they have been done in the other six classifications.

Updates: Unity Christian School was to play Cherokee Christian on Friday night for the Georgia Association of Private & Parochial Schools 8-man championship. Cherokee on Monday went into COVID quarantine so Unity (10-0 including an earlier win over Cherokee) takes the title. Cedartown advances to round two after this week’s opponent, Arabia Mountain, cancels because of coronavirus.


Class 6A

Habersham Central (6-4) at Rome (7-3)

Series History: First Meeting

Records Against Playoff Teams: Habersham Central 1-3 (defeated Winder-Barrow and lost to White County, Buford, and Dacula); Rome 3-3 (defeated Rockmart, Alexander, and Douglas County and lost to Cherokee, Collins Hill, and Carrollton)

Last Playoff Appearance: Habersham Central lost to Creekview 65-48 in the second round of the 2018 Class 6A playoffs; Rome lost to Warner Robins 25-17 in the second round of the 2019 Class 5A playoffs.

The Habersham Central Raiders fell behind 28-0 in the first half Saturday afternoon to Shiloh before coming back to defeat the Generals 45-37 in a game that was only that close because Shiloh scored a touchdown on the final play of the game. The Raiders finished as the third seed from Region 8-6A. The Rome Wolves fell behind 6-0 in the game’s opening seconds Friday night before scoring a decisive 56-27 win over Paulding County to capture the second seed from region 5-6A. The winner of this game will play the winner of the game between River Ridge and Kennesaw Mountain. Rome wins by 15.


Class 5A

Maynard Jackson (3-6) at Number 4 Cartersville (8-1)

Series History: First Meeting

Records Against Playoff Teams: Jackson 1-4 (defeated Chapel Hill and lost to Lee County, Bremen, New Manchester, and Lithia Springs); Cartersville 5-1 (defeated West Forsyth, Alexander, Creekside, Hiram, and Calhoun and lost to Cherokee)

Last Playoff Appearance: Jackson lost to Rome 62-14 in the first round of the 2018 Class 5A playoffs; Cartersville lost to Woodward Academy 31-28 in the 2019 Class 4A quarterfinals.

The Jackson Jaguars defeated Villa Rica 46-24 on Friday to capture the Number 3 seed from Region 6-5A. The Cartersville Purple Hurricanes, whose only loss was to Class 7A Cherokee, were off Friday night after defeating Calhoun 31-14. Even though Cartersville and Blessed Trinity both were undefeated in Region 7-5A, Cartersville was the Number 2 seed from the region after it had to cancel the scheduled game with Blessed Trinity last month due to COVID-19. The winner of this game will play the winner of the game between St. Pius X and Loganville. Cartersville wins by 41.

Number 7 Calhoun (7-3) at Lithia Springs (4-6)

Series History: First Meeting

Records Against Playoff Teams: Calhoun 2-3 (defeated Cedartown and Hiram and lost to McCallie, Blessed Trinity, and Cartersville); Lithia Springs 2-5 (defeated New Manchester and Maynard Jackson and lost to Douglas County, Alexander, Pebblebrook, Lee County, and Chapel Hill)

Last Playoff Appearance: Calhoun lost to Peach County 31-0 in the second round of the 2019 Class 3A playoffs; Lithia Springs lost to Clarke Central 63-34 in the first round of the 2019 Class 5A playoffs.

The Calhoun Yellow Jackets, who were off in the final week of the regular season, finished as the Number 3 sed from Region 7-5A after losing two weeks ago 31-14 to Cartersville. The Lithia Springs Lions, whose only region loss was to Chapel Hill, emerged as the Number 2 seed from Region 6-5A following a 44-6 win over North Springs. The winner of this game will play the winner of the game between Clarke Central and M.L. King. Calhoun wins by 27.


Class 4A

Arabia Mountain forfeits (coronavirus); Number 7 Cedartown (6-2) awaits second round opponent.


Class 3A

White County (7-2) at Number 7 Rockmart (8-1)

Series History: First Meeting

Records Against Playoff Teams: White County 3-2 (defeated Cherokee, Hart County, and Habersham Central and lost to Dawson County and North Hall); Rockmart 3-1 (defeated Cedartown, North Murray, and Adairsville and lost to Rome)

Last Playoff Appearance: White County lost to Pickens 42-0 in the first round of the 2018 Class 4A playoffs; Rockmart lost to Brooks County 41-3 in the second round of the 2019 Class 2A playoffs.

The White County Warriors pulled off one of the biggest surprises of the night with a 48-7 upset of previously unbeaten Cherokee Bluff and finished as the Number 2 seed from Region 7-3A. The Rockmart Yellow Jackets, who have reeled off eight straight wins since a season opening loss to Class 6A Rome, defeated Ringgold 35-6 to end the regular season as the undefeated Region 6-3A champion. The winner of this game will play the winner of the game between Cedar Grove and Monroe Area. Rockmart wins by 11.


Class 2A/Saturday

Number 4 Lovett (7-2) at Pepperell (5-4)

Series History: Lovett leads 3-1

Last Meeting: Lovett defeated Pepperell 38-14 on November 17, 2006 in the first round of the Class 2A playoffs.

Records Against Playoff Teams: Lovett 2-2 (defeated Washington and South Atlanta and lost to Greater Atlanta Christian and Pace Academy); Pepperell 3-3 (defeated Bremen, Model, and Chattooga and lost to Haralson County, Heard County, and Fannin County)

Last Playoff Appearance: Lovett lost to North Hall 24-21 in the first round of the 2019 Class 3A playoffs; Pepperell lost to Thomasville 58-14 in the second round of the 2019 Class 2A playoffs.

The Lovett Lions, who defeated Region 6-2A regular season champion South Atlanta 37-12 on October 2, closed out the regular schedule with a 52-0 win over McNair but only earned the region’s third seed due to special seeding rules brought about by a delay to the start of the season by some schools and COVID-19 cancellations affecting some teams. The Pepperell Dragons, whose final regular season game was canceled after Coosa was unable to play due to COVID-19, defeated Chattooga 28-13 two weeks ago to wrap up the Number 2 seed from Region 7-2A. The winner of this game will play the winner of the game between Callaway and Banks County. Lovett wins by 21.

Model (5-4) at Washington (7-2)

Series History: First Meeting

Records Against Playoff Teams: Model 2-3 (defeated LaFayette and Chattooga and lost to Haralson County, Fannin County, and Pepperell); Washington 0-2 (lost to Lovett and South Atlanta)

Last Playoff Appearance: Model lost to Bremen 17-0 in the first round of the 2019 Class 2A playoffs; Washington lost to Chattooga 7-6 in the first round of the 2018 Class 2A playoffs.

The Model Blue Devils, playing for the second time in five days, emerged from a low scoring first half to defeat Gordon Central 28-7 Saturday afternoon to capture the Number 3 seed from Region 7-2A. The Washington Bulldogs, whose only games against playoff teams resulted in losses to Lovett and South Atlanta, defeated Towers 45-0 and earned the Number 2 seed from Region 6-2A. The winner of this game will play the winner of the game between Rabun County and Haralson County. Washington wins by 17.

Chattooga (3-7) at South Atlanta (7-3)

Series History: First Meeting

Records Against Playoff Teams: Chattooga 0-5 (lost to Adairsville, Northwest Whitfield, Fannin County, Pepperell, and Model); South Atlanta 2-3 (defeated Washington and Pace Academy and lost to Heard County, Bleckley County, and Lovett)

Last Playoff Appearance: Chattooga lost to Callaway 54-7 in the first round of the 2019 Class 2A playoffs; South Atlanta lost to Union County 19-15 in the first round of the 2019 Class 2A playoffs.

The Chattooga Indians ended the season as the Number 4 seed from Region 7-2A following a 49-7 loss on Tuesday night to Model. The South Atlanta Hornets defeated Columbia 12-0 and, despite an early season loss to Lovett, earned the first region championship in the school’s 27-year history and the Number 1 seed from Region 6-2A. The winner of this game will play the winner of the game between Bremen and Elbert County. South Atlanta wins by 23.


Class A Private

Darlington (6-4) at Mt. Pisgah Christian (6-4)

Series History: Darlington leads 1-0

Last Meeting: Darlington defeated Mt. Pisgah Christian 31-14 on November 9, 2012.

Records Against Playoff Teams: Darlington 3-4 (defeated Lakeview Academy. Heritage of Catoosa, and Mt. Paran Christian and lost to Heard County, Bremen, Christian Heritage, and North Cobb Christian); Mt. Pisgah Christian 3-4 (defeated Mt. Paran Christian, Lakeview Academy, and Kings Ridge Christian and lost to Wesleyan, Hebron Christian, Christian Heritage, and Fellowship Christian)

Last Playoff Appearance: Darlington lost to Mt. Paran Christian 16-13 in the second round of the 2019 Class A Private School playoffs; Mt. Pisgah Christian lost to Savannah Country Day School in the second round of the 2017 Class A Private School playoffs.

The Darlington Tigers, who were off Friday night during the final week of the regular season, captured the Number 3 seed from Region 7-A Private after a 46-7 win two weeks ago over Walker. The Mt. Pisgah Christian Patriots finished as the Number 2 seed behind Fellowship Christian in Region 6-A Private following a 49-17 win over St. Francis. The winner of this game will play the winner of the game between Prince Avenue Christian and Hebron Christian. Darlington wins by 11.


Here are predictions for every first-round playoff game in the state:

Class 7A

  • Number 4 Lowndes (7-1) over Newton (4-5) by 28
  • Number 8 North Cobb (9-1) over Pebblebrook (6-4) by 26
  • Number 10 Archer (6-4) over Gainesville (6-4) by 14
  • Number 7 Milton (9-0) over Peachtree Ridge (4-6) by 34
  • Denmark (5-4) over Discovery (4-6) by 28
  • Number 6 Collins Hill (8-2) over Alpharetta (3-5) by 19
  • Parkview (5-3) over Camden County (5-5) by 1
  • Marietta (3-7) over Number 5 East Coweta (8-1) by 1
  • Mill Creek (5-5) over Roswell (7-2) by 11
  • Number 3 Norcross (10-0) over South Forsyth (5-3) by 16
  • Walton (5-5) over McEachern (4-5) by 1
  • Number 2 Colquitt County (7-0) over Brookwood (8-2) by 28
  • Harrison (3-5) over Number 9 Newnan (9-1) by 6
  • Number 1 Grayson (9-0) over Tift County (2-6) by 34
  • North Gwinnett (7-3) over Cherokee (8-2) by 17
  • West Forsyth (7-3) over Meadowcreek (3-6) by 27

Class 6A

  • Number 6 Valdosta (4-4) over Lovejoy (8-2) by 13
  • Evans (8-2) over Statesboro (4-6) by 10
  • Sprayberry (5-4) over Creekview (7-2) by 5
  • Number 10 Carrollton (6-2) over Winder-Barrow (5-5) by 21
  • Kell (6-3) over Cambridge (5-5) by 12
  • Number 2 Buford (8-1) over Douglas County (7-3) by 28
  • Number 7 Hughes (9-1) over Northside of Warner Robins (4-6) by 1
  • Glynn Academy (7-3) over Grovetown (2-8) by 43
  • Rome (7-3) over Habersham Central (6-4) by 15
  • Number 5 River Ridge (9-0) over Kennesaw Mountain (4-5) by 4
  • Brunswick (7-3) over Alcovy (2-6) by 22
  • Number 1 Lee County (8-1) over Tucker (3-4) by 27
  • Number 9 Richmond Hill (8-2) over Lakeside of Evans (2-8) by 47
  • Number 3 Westlake (8-2) over Houston County (5-5) by 15
  • Number 8 Dacula (6-3) over Alexander (6-3) by 7
  • Number 4 Allatoona (9-0) over Johns Creek (4-4) by 11

Class 5A

  • Number 3 Ware County (8-1) over Dutchtown (6-4) by 21
  • Creekside (6-2) over Harris County (6-4) by 13
  • Number 4 Cartersville (8-1) over Jackson of Atlanta (3-6) by 41
  • Number 8 St. Pius X (8-1) over Loganville (5-5) by 14
  • Number 7 Calhoun (7-3) over Lithia Springs (4-6) by 27
  • Number 9 Clarke Central (7-2) over M.L. King (2-5) by 19
  • Number 5 Coffee (7-2) over Ola (9-1) by 7
  • Number 6 Starr’s Mill (8-1) over Mundy’s Mill (4-6) by 31
  • Decatur (6-1) over Greenbrier (7-3) by 24
  • Number 1 Blessed Trinity (6-0) over Chapel Hill (6-4) by 49
  • Woodward Academy (6-4) over Whitewater (5-5) by 14
  • Number 2 Warner Robins (8-1) over Union Grove by 36
  • Griffin (6-4) over Jonesboro (7-2) by 2
  • Number 10 Jones County (7-3) over Wayne County (3-7) by 17
  • Southwest Dekalb (4-3) over Eastside (8-2) by 1
  • Hiram (1-9) over New Manchester (5-3) by 1

Class 4A

  • West Laurens (5-4) over Cairo (4-4) by 2
  • Number 4 Benedictine (6-2) over Troup (6-4) by 10
  • Number 10 Stephenson (4-2) over Northwest Whitfield (7-2) by 26
  • Riverdale (6-2) over Cedar Shoals (2-6) by 11
  • Number 9 Hapeville Charter (4-3) over Heritage of Catoosa (5-4) by 29
  • Number 2 Jefferson (8-0) over Mt. Zion of Jonesboro (2-5) by 43
  • Baldwin (4-1) over Thomas County Central (4-5) by 9
  • Number 3 Carver of Columbus (7-0) over Jenkins (4-3) by 21
  • North Oconee (4-5) over Fayette County (7-2) by 14
  • Number 7 Cedartown (6-2) over Arabia Mountain (3-4) by 29
  • Hardaway (7-3) over Islands (6-1) by 1
  • Number 6 Bainbridge (7-3) over Westside of Macon (5-4) by 25
  • New Hampstead (6-1) over LaGrange (7-3) by 7
  • Number 8 Perry (6-4) over Westover (1-4) by 9
  • Number 5 Flowery Branch (8-2) over Luella (6-4) by 29
  • Number 1 Marist (8-0) over Central of Carroll (5-3) by 39

Class 3A

  • Number 8 Appling County (7-1) over Morgan County (6-4) by 29
  • Upson-Lee (5-5) over Southeast Bulloch (6-3) by 4
  • North Murray (6-3) over North Hall (6-4) by 2
  • Number 5 Greater Atlanta Christian (9-0) over Franklin County (7-2) by 37
  • Dawson County (5-5) over Adairsville (6-3) by 8
  • Number 2 Oconee County (8-0) over Westminster (4-3) by 20
  • Number 10 Thomson (8-2) over Tattnall County (2-8) by 39
  • Number 3 Peach County (7-1) over Johnson of Savannah (3-4) by 58
  • Hart County (3-5) over Carver of Atlanta (4-4) by 3
  • Cherokee Bluff (9-1) over LaFayette (4-5) by 13
  • Central of Macon (5-3) over Liberty County (2-3) by 10
  • Number 6 Pierce County (8-1) over Burke County (3-5) by 19
  • Number 4 Crisp County (8-1) over Windsor-Forest (6-1) by 27
  • Number 9 Richmond Academy (9-1) over Brantley County (1-8) by 28
  • Number 1 Cedar Grove (1-4) over Monroe Area (8-2) by 31
  • Number 7 Rockmart (8-1) over White County (7-2) by 11

Class 2A

  • Number 3 Thomasville (6-4)over Westside of Augusta (6-4) by 33
  • Number 9 Dodge County (5-3) over Swainsboro (4-6) by 15
  • Number 4 Lovett (7-2) over Pepperell (5-4) by 21
  • Number 8 Callaway (7-1) over Banks County (1-9) by 47
  • Washington (7-2) over Model (5-4) by 17
  • Number 2 Rabun County (9-1) over Haralson County (7-2) by 24
  • Number 6 Early County (6-2) over Putnam County (9-1) by 17
  • Bleckley County (6-3) over Number 10 Vidalia (7-2) by 2
  • Heard County (6-4) over Union County (4-5) by 15
  • Pace Academy (6-3) over Number 7 Fannin County (8-0) by 3
  • Northeast of Macon (7-2) over Toombs County (7-3) by 2
  • Number 1 Fitzgerald (9-0) over Oglethorpe County (3-7) by 60
  • Washington County (6-4) over Jeff Davis (8-1) by 11
  • Number 5 Jefferson County (7-2) over Cook (5-4) by 7
  • Bremen (6-4) over Elbert County (3-5) by 16
  • South Atlanta (7-3) over Chattooga (3-7) by 23

Class A Public

  • Mitchell County (4-3) over Johnson County (8-2) by 7
  • Number 1 Metter (10-0) over Turner County (6-4) by 17
  • Warren County (7-2) over Mt. Zion of Carroll (8-2) by 14
  • Number 6 Macon County (8-1) over Social Circle (4-6) by 44
  • Gordon Lee (9-1) over Georgia Military (6-4) by 30
  • Number 4 Commerce (9-1) over Manchester (4-6) by 7
  • Wilcox County (8-2) over Miller County (3-5) by 31
  • Number 5 Irwin County (7-3) over Jenkins County (4-6) by 43
  • Number 10 Chattahoochee County (8-1) over Lincoln County (5-4) by 10
  • Hancock Central (6-0) over BEST Academy (3-5) by 18
  • Number 9 Clinch County (6-3) over McIntosh County Academy (6-3) by 7
  • Number 7 Pelham (5-1) over Montgomery County (6-4) by 23
  • Number 3 Brooks County (9-1) over Claxton (3-5) by 46
  • Number 2 Dublin (9-1) over Terrell County (4-4) by 38
  • Number 8 Washington-Wilkes (7-1) over Taylor County (6-2) by 10
  • Bowdon (6-4) over Wilkinson County (2-6) by 20

Class A Private

  • Mt. de Sales (6-4) over St. Anne-Pacelli (6-3) by 2
  • Number 8 Savannah Christian (9-1)—BYE
  • Number 9 North Cobb Christian (7-2) over Lakeview Academy (5-3) by 25
  • Number 5 Wesleyan (8-2) over Athens Christian (5-5) by 26
  • Darlington (6-4) over Mt. Pisgah Christian (6-4) by 11
  • Number 1 Prince Avenue Christian (8-1) over Hebron Christian (3-6) by 39
  • Stratford Academy (7-2) over Brookstone (5-5) by 10
  • Number 2 Eagles Landing Christian (7-3) over Aquinas (7-3) by 27
  • Holy Innocents (4-5) over Number 10 George Walton Academy (7-2) by 4
  • Number 6 Christian Heritage (7-1) over Kings Ridge Christian (3-4) by 41
  • Calvary Day (6-4) over Landmark Christian (1-9) by 28
  • First Presbyterian (6-4) over Heritage of Newnan (0-10) by 31
  • Whitefield Academy (5-4) over Savannah Country Day (3-5) by 3
  • Number 7 Trinity Christian (8-2) over Tattnall Square (4-6) by 10
  • Number 4 Athens Academy (8-1) over Mt. Vernon Presbyterian (5-4) by 25
  • Number 3 Fellowship Christian (8-0) over Mt. Paran Christian (1-6) by 36

Note: The historical data used in these game capsules is compiled by the Georgia High School Football Historians Association and can be found at ghsfha.org. The ranking used are those compiled by Georgia High School Football Daily for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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