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THE BLITZ: Broncos' upset win the highlight of first round

Photo by Brandon Brigman

Photo by Brandon Brigman

The first round of the playoffs are in the bag. We had blowout wins, close victories, an upset and an overtime loss. You gotta love the excitement of the playoffs.

Gwinnett County had nine teams make the playoffs and that number is down to seven going into the second round. Dacula lost to Woodstock and Collins Hill fell to Roswell in overtime.

The shocker of the first round was Brookwood upsetting unbeaten McEachern. We'll talk about that one a little later.

Peachtree Ridge used two fourth-quarter TDs to win, Grayson held off a tough Marietta squad, North Gwinnett used two special teams scores to cruise to a win, South Gwinnett nearly blew a 17-point fourth-quarter lead, but held on to win, Buford had a commanding win over Pepperell, Wesleyan blew out Whitefield Academy (as expected). A wild Friday in the first round.

Here's a look at this Friday's second round games. (As long as the GHSA doesn't decide to change the brackets again :) )

Which matchup are you looking forward to?

Class AAAAA

Brookwood at Peachtree Ridge

Roswell at Grayson

South Gwinnett at Lassiter

Woodstock at North Gwinnett

Class AA

Buford at Jefferson

Class A

Bowdon at Wesleyan

How 'bout them Broncos?

A lot of people (including myself) left Brookwood for dead about midway through the season.

I don't know what has happened the last two weeks, but the Broncos have found a spark. First they defeated rival Parkview in the final game of the regular season to get the No. 4 seed from Region 8-AAAAA to get in the playoffs.

It seems like a No. 1 seed goes down every year in the first round, but who would have thought it would have been Brookwood taking down unbeaten and No. 6 ranked McEachern? Especially after the Indians easily handled the Broncos in the season opener.

For all the troubles Brookwood has suffered and all the grumblings from Bronco faithful, I think the McEachern win erases a lot of the heartache.

Now the Broncos get Peachtree Ridge in the second round, last year's state runner-up. Brookwood hasn't won a second round playoff game since 2005 when it reached the state championship game.

If the Broncos continue to play like they have the last two weeks, which is by far the best they've played all season, a playoff game after Thanksgiving looks pretty likely.

Lackluster win for Rams

I was a little surprised by the score of Grayson's 21-14 win over Marietta. I was expecting a blowout in the game. But hey, it's the playoffs and a win is a win.

Here are two reasons why I think the game was closer that it should have been.

  • Injuries -- Starting running back Ean Pemberton only played the first half and he still rushed for 123 yards and two touchdowns. As well as Devin Gillespie, Terrius Watson and Frank Bebbs played in relief for the senior standout, if Pemberton plays the whole game I think the game is a little different. Also, defensive leader Joseph Champaign is still working his way back into defensive line rotation after tearing his ACL last month.

  • Schedule -- Let's face it, Marrietta is the toughest team Grayson has played in more than a month. The last four weeks, the Rams played teams that had a combined record of 3-27 and had a bye week. Not exactly the type of competition to get you ready for the postseason.

Greatest shows on turf to meet

At the beginning of the season I dubbed South Gwinnett the Greatest Show on Turf after it averaged 49 points through the first three games.

The Comets will meet Cobb County's version of the Greatest Show on Turf Friday in the second round. Lassiter averages 40.5 points per game and has scored 42 or more points in its last eight games, including a 62-37 first round win over North Forsyth.

Hutson Matson is the trigger man in Lassiter's offense. The quarterback threw for 3,705 yards last season, which is the second most in state history. He set a Class AAAAA state record when he threw for 486 yards in a win over Campbell earlier this year. He has offers from Indiana, Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan, UAB and Georgia Southern.

South Gwinnett's defense is a little tougher than the one's Lassiter has faced this season, so I don't think the Trojans will put up as many points as they have. But there will be a lot of points scored and the last team with the ball probably win this game.

One degree of separation

I asked North Gwinnett head coach Bob Sphire what he knew about Woodstock after Friday's win over Centennial. He said he had never seen them play, so he didn't know much about the team. However, Sphire is familiar with Woodstock's head coach Mike O'Brien. O'Brien got his head coaching start at tradition-laden Valdosta in 1996. He led the Wildcats to the state championship game that year and to the title in 1998. O'Brien's quarterback was Dusty Bonner, who Sphire later coached in arena football.

Sphire said Bonner used to speak highly of O'Brien all the time and had a lot of respect for what he's done at Valdosta and now at Woodstock.

O'Brien has led Woodstock to its first 10-win season in the school's 13-years of existence.

Woodstock is 2-0 against Gwinnett County teams after wins over Dacula last week and Norcross last season. O'Brien is 4-2 against Gwinnett teams.

Rare road playoff game for Wolves

The last time Buford had to travel in the first three rounds of the state playoffs, it was a 325-mile trip to the Florida border in 2007 to play nemesis Charlton County.

The Wolves have to go on the road this Friday for their second round playoff game, but the travel won't be nearly has bad. As the No. 2 seed from Region 6-AA, Buford will travel about 30 miles up I-85 to face undefeated Jefferson.

Here's a couple of quick facts about Jefferson:

  • Jefferson is a city school just like Buford.

  • The Dragons are coached by T. McFerrin, who coached at South Gwinnett from 1998-2004. McFerrin's 312 wins are the seventh most in Georgia history

  • Jefferson's head coach the last seven years was Bill Navas, who is now the athletic director at Duluth

  • The last team to beat Jefferson and Buford is Lovett. The Lions defeated the Dragons in the second round of last year's playoffs and beat Buford earlier this season.

  • Jefferson is 11-0 for the second straight season.

  • Jefferson has won 18 of its last 19 games at home.