0

The Blitz: Region 7 claims county dominance

Over the past few years the power has shifted in Gwinnett County. For many years it was the southern part of the county in Region 8 with teams like Brookwood and Parkview dominating.

But over the last few years its been the northern part of the county and Region 7 with Norcross, Peachtree Ridge and North Gwinnett having the most success.

With the two regions meeting in the first round of the playoffs last Friday, it was one last look to see who had the better region. Region 7-AAAAA won the postseason battle by winning three of the four games. Peachtree Ridge beat Dacula, North Gwinnett defeated Brookwood and Norcross held off Parkview. Only Region 8's Grayson, the No. 1 seed, was able to get a win, beating Collins Hill.

Region 7 was 10-4 against Region 8 this season, which also includes teams from North Fulton and Forsyth County.

Since 2006, Region 7 is 24-13 against Region 8. So it's obvious the power has shifted when you consider Peachtree Ridge winning the state title in 2006 and North Gwinnett reaching the championship game last season.

Grayson is the only team left from Region 8 and if the Rams can make a deep playoff run, that would help bring some bragging rights back to the region.

Speaking of deep playoff runs, I think all six Gwinnett County teams left in the playoffs have a great shot of reaching the quarterfinals. None of Gwinnett's opponents strike me as powerhouses and when you consider the great football that is played each week in the county, I think we could have six teams in the quarterfinals next week. That would be a first for Gwinnett County. Gwinnett put five teams in the quarterfinals in 2002, 2005 and 2006, but never six. Also, in 2005 Gwinnett had four teams in the Class AAAAA quarterfinals.

Somehow Gwinnett got really lucky and all six games will be played in the comfy confines of the county.

The first two rounds of the playoffs the higher seeded team hosts the game. In the quarterfinals, with No. 1 seeds usually meeting in that round, a coin flip will determine home field if both school's meet the GHSA's stadium capacity requirements.

You can check out the bracket's here at gasports.com

Here's a quick look at this Friday's second round matchups. Let me know how you think the games will shape out.

East Paulding (9-2) at Grayson (11-0)

Prior to head coach John Reid taking over the program in 2006, East Paulding hadn't had much success. The Raiders missed the playoffs the first 15 years of the program. Even current Buford head coach Jess Simpson couldn't win there, posting a 0-10 record in 1997. In Reid's first season he took East Paulding to the state semifinals in Class AAAA and the quarterfinals last year.

East Paulding defeated Milton 43-41 in triple overtime last week in the first round, while Grayson easily defeated Collins Hill 31-7.

Harrison (9-2) at Peachtree Ridge (9-2)

Peachtree Ridge's only two losses were at the beginning of the season to non-region opponents. The Lions have a chance to avenge one of those losses on Friday and possibly the second one later in the playoffs.

Harrison beat Peachtree Ridge 13-3 in the season opener and the two will meet again Friday in the second round. The Lions' only other loss was to Lowndes, who they could see again in semifinals.

Harrison defeated Kell last week 21-18 and Peachtree Ridge topped Dacula 17-0 to setup the rematch.

Lassiter (9-2) at North Gwinnett (9-2)

In one of the many upsets last week, Lassiter knocked off No. 1 seed Etowah 23-20 in overtime to advance to the second round.

The Trojans rallied from a 14-point deficit to win their first playoff game.

North Gwinnett advanced with its second win over Brookwood this season and the fifth in three years.

Prior to taking over the North Gwinnett program, Bob Sphire coached at Lexington Catholic in Kentucky. His defensive coordinator for nine years was Jeff Carlberg, who is now the defensive coordinator at Lassiter.

Woodstock (7-4) at Norcross (8-3)

Another shocker from Friday was Woodstock easily defeating Walton 28-7 to win its first playoff game. Walton, a No. 1 seed, reached the state semifinals a year ago.

Norcross reached the second round with a 20-17 win over Parkview. The Blue Devils had two 100-yard rushers in running back D.J. Adams (170 yards) and quarterback Charles King (100). The defense held Parkview running back Brandon Jacobs to 49 yards.

North Oconee (9-2) at Buford (11-0)

Buford rolled to another first round playoff win by beating Heard County 56-21. The defending Class AA state champions have won their first round playoff games by an average of 35 points over the last 10 years. The Wolves should put up big points again vs. a young North Oconee program.

The fifth-year school is in the playoffs for the first time and got the school's first playoff win a 28-21 victory over Rockmart last Friday.

Holy Innocents' (8-3) at Wesleyan (9-2)

If you like games with a lot of points this isn't for you. If you like two defenses going at it with a low scoring game, then that's probably what you will get based on the last two meetings.

Holy Innocents' and Wesleyan will play for the fourth time in three years. The last two meetings the teams combined for 16 total points with the Golden Bears wining both contests. Holy Innocents' won 3-0 last year and 7-6 earlier in the season.

The Golden Bears are coming off a 13-0 win over Bowdon in the first round last week, while Wesleyan took care of Warren County 42-19.