I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving last week. I know I did. I just finished off the last of our Thanksgiving leftovers Sunday night. (My wife's family sure knows how to cook.)
It was a pretty good last four days.
If you've been checking out the The Blitz all season then you might remember me mentioning that I was running the Atlanta Half Marathon on Thanksgiving morning. My goal was to finish in under two hours and while I didn't meet that goal I still had probably the best run I've ever had. I ended up finishing in two hours, four minutes, which isn't too bad for a former offensive lineman.
After running 13.1 miles it sure does make Thanksgiving dinner that much better.
I went to Athens Saturday night to check out my favorite band, the Zac Brown Band. (I won't mention what went on earlier in the day in the Classic City) I highly recommend ZBB. You can check out their hit single Chicken Fried, which is No. 1 on Billboard's top country songs, on iTunes.
And can you believe the Falcons just improved to 8-4 for the season? Not bad for a team that wasn't expected to win more than two or three games.
Oh wait. I forgot to mention what happened Friday night and probably the reason why you're still reading this.
While I was running the half marathon on Thursday I spent some time thinking what a win for Grayson would mean to the young program. And even a day later when I was in Athens all I could think about was Grayson's win over Lowndes in the quarterfinals of the playoffs.
It's by far the biggest win in Grayson history and has to rank up there with one of the top playoff wins in Gwinnett County history. And when you consider they beat a team that was No. 1 in the state, No. 3 the nation, had won 26-straight games and won three of the last four titles in the state's highest classification, you can make an argument that's one of the biggest wins in state history. So congrats to Ram Nation. I hope they are still hungry after the big win.
Unfortunately, many people are going to remember what happened in the final minute of the game. In a game televised regionally on CSS, Lowndes showed it wasn't happy too happy to lose and ran onto the field looking to fight Grayson players.
In case you missed it, you can go to YouTube and search "Lowndes football" and you can watch the altercation.
Lowndes was the region champion from Region 1-AAAAA, which many fans considered the best in the state. The No. 4 seed from that region was Coffee, who lost to Peachtree Ridge 38-0. So I'll go ahead and say it right now. Region 1 doesn't have anything on Gwinnett County football.
Now Grayson will play at Peachtree Ridge on Friday in the Class AAAAA semifinals. The good news is a Gwinnett team is assured a spot in the state finals. The winner will play the Newnan-Camden County winner in the state finals. I only wish this week's Grayson-Peachtree Ridge game was state championship game. That would have been pretty awesome to have an all Gwinnett final.
Instead, the winner of this game can claim the unofficial title of Gwinnett County champion. Both are region champs from their respective regions in the state's highest classification. It's hard to argue that anyone is playing football better than those two right now. Of course Buford and Wesleyan are in the semifinals, so they can make an argument of being Gwinnett's best as well.
Here's a quick look at the three Gwinnett County games this week.
Grayson (13-0) at Peachtree Ridge (11-2)
Two of the youngest programs in Gwinnett County are a couple of wins away from winning a state championship. Mickey Conn has quietly built Grayson into a state power with the simple formula of controlling the ball on offense and playing good defense and special teams.
Peachtree Ridge used a star-studded lineup two years ago to win a share of the Class AAAAA state championship. Bill Ballard is in his second year as the Lions' head coach and will be making his second appearance in the semifinals. In his second year as head coach at Tucker, Ballard lost to Marist in the semis.
These two teams have played twice the last two years with the series even at 1-1.
The Grayson-Peachtree Ridge winner plays the Camden County at Newnan winner Dec. 13 in the Georgia Dome.
Fitzgerald (11-2) at Buford (13-0)
Fitzgerald has played the role of road warriors in the Class AA playoffs. As the No. 3 seed, the Purple Hurricanes have gone to Charlton County, Henry County and Pepperell to reach the semifinals. That's a lot of mileage and three teams with a combined record of 30-6 this season. Does Fitzgerald have enough in the tank to knock off mighty Buford?
The Wolves were tied with Dublin in the second quarter before scoring 34 unanswered points in their third round blowout win.
Buford is 9-2 all-time in the semifinals and has won the last six semifinals games its played in.
The Buford-Fitzgerald winner plays the Brooks County vs. Calhoun winner Dec. 12 in the Georgia Dome.
Lincoln County (12-1) at Wesleyan (11-2)
It's new vs. old in the Class A semifinals matchup. Lincoln County features legendary head coach Larry Campbell, the all-time winningest coach in Georgia history with more than 400 victories.
Campbell has been the Red Devils' head coach for 37 of the 39 years the school has been open. Campbell has coached in 15 state championship game, winning 10 of them. The most recent when Lincoln County won back-to-back titles in 2005-06.
Wesleyan doesn't have near the history of Lincoln County, but has been on a historic run this year. The 11-year-old Norcross private school has won a region title for the first time, won 11 games for the first and is in the semifinals for the first time in school history.
It's the second time Wesleyan and Lincoln County have played. The Red Devils won 45-7 in the first round of the 2000 playoffs. It will be the fourth time Lincoln County has traveled to Gwinnett County and the first since 2000 when it played Buford.
The Wesleyan-Lincoln County winner plays the Wilkinson County at Emanuel County Institute winner on Dec. 13 in the Georgia Dome.