A large portion of the staff that coached Bill Ballard at the now defunct Henderson High School in DeKalb County eventually migrated to Brookwood.
Some of them remain a part of the Broncos' program, so seeing those old friends is one reason Ballard is looking forward to his Peachtree Ridge program hosting Brookwood in Friday's second round of the Class AAAAA playoffs. He's also eager for his team to play one of Gwinnett County's most revered programs.
"I'm excited about that matchup," Peachtree Ridge head coach Bill Ballard said. "They have such a history. They've just got so much tradition over there. It's kind of like the old tradition playing the new school."
Ballard should send his old coaches a thank-you note. Brookwood's first-round upset of No. 6 McEachern saved Peachtree Ridge (9-2) a long Friday night trip to the far reaches of Cobb County. Instead the Lions will be at home against the Broncos (6-5), who are playing their best football of the season, for the first time in school history.
While the Brookwood-Peachtree Ridge game is the only Gwinnett vs. Gwinnett matchup Friday, it's one of several interesting showdowns.
In AAAAA, Region 8-AAAAA runner-up South Gwinnett (10-1) travels to Lassiter (11-0) in a game that features two of the state's most prolific offenses, and quarterbacks, with South's Kent Rollins and Lassiter's Hutson Mason. Lassiter, which beat North Forsyth 62-37 in the first round, averages 40.5 points and has scored 42 or more in eight straight games.
Grayson, the 8-AAAAA champion, remains at home for the second round, hosting Roswell, which needed overtime to escape Collins Hill in the first round. The other local AAAAA game features two ranked teams -- No. 10 Woodstock at No. 2 North Gwinnett.
Buford's second-round foe in AA is Jefferson, which is 10-0 under first-year head coach T. McFerrin. McFerrin coached South Gwinnett from 1998 to 2004, guiding the Comets to the most successful run in school history. His roadblock this week will be two-time defending state champion Buford and a defense that has seven shutouts, including a first-round blanking of a Pepperell team that was 9-1.
Gwinnett's other defending champion, Wesleyan, is still searching for its first close game of the season. The 11-0 Wolves, No. 1 in A, host 10th-ranked Bowdon on Friday.
In AAAA, Apalachee (11-0) gets another home game but will be tested by perennial power Marist.