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GHSA makes late bracket changes

Although football coaches preach the dangers of looking ahead past the next game, most can't help but take a peak ahead come playoff time.

Most coaches checked out their quarter of the playoff brackets this past weekend, whether it was out of simple curiosity or about putting out feelers for game footage of possible future foes. Those plans were switched up on Monday morning, when the Georgia High School Association discovered an error in its playoff brackets and moved teams around in the brackets.

Although no first- and second-round games were affected, it shifted the quarterfinal matchups considerably.

Second-ranked North Gwinnett (10-0), for example, remains in the same quadrant of the bracket. But the Bulldogs' got four new teams in their eight-team section, most notably two perennial powers -- No. 3 Lowndes and No. 10 Camden County, the defending Class AAAAA champion.

"No question, we're in the toughest bracket now," said North head coach Bob Sphire, whose team won the school's first region football title last weekend and will host Centennial in Friday's first round. "We've got to bring our 'A' game."

Peachtree Ridge, the 7-AAAAA runner-up to North, lost Camden and Lowndes from its quarter of the bracket. The Lions' likely quarterfinal opponent now is No. 7 Northside-Warner Robins.

The bracket switches also impacted two-time defending champion Buford, which had been situated with No. 1 Calhoun and No. 2 Fitzgerald on the opposite half of the bracket. Now Buford could be facing a semifinal game at Fitzgerald.

But quarterfinal matchups are just conjecture until two weeks from now, as teams have to battle through tough first- and second-round foes.

A total of nine Gwinnett teams qualified for the playoffs, led by North and Region 8-AAAAA champion Grayson, which will host Marietta in the first round. Region 8-A champion Wesleyan, the defending Class A champion, is at home for the state opener vs. Whitefield, as is Buford with a matchup against Pepperell.

Class AAAAA region runners-up South Gwinnett (vs. Etowah) and Peachtree Ridge (vs. Kell) also earned home playoff games. Gwinnett's other three playoff teams must travel for their postseason openers -- Dacula at Woodstock, Collins Hill at Roswell and Brookwood at McEachern.

"We're trying to work out how to get over there (to McEachern) on a Friday afternoon," said Brookwood head coach Mark Crews, whose team gets a rematch of a 42-32 loss in the Corky Kell Classic. "Right now it looks like helicopter might be the best way."