Minutes after his team’s Class A second-round state playoff win over Athens Academy early Saturday morning, Wesleyan football coach Franklin Pridgen reflected on the last time he had to have a site for a playoff game decided by the flip of a coin.
He recalled that he called tails and lost, resulting on a long trip to Miller County in the 2008 quarterfinals, so he was determined to call heads this time.
Collins Hill at Lowndes
Grayson at Valdosta
Hillgrove at Brookwood
Mill Creek at Colquitt County
Cook at Buford
Wilcox Co. at Wesleyan
Instead, he let Wilcox County coach Mark Ledford call the toss this time, and he called tails and lost, giving the No. 5 state-ranked Wolves (11-1) the right to host the second-ranked Patriots (11-1) at Henderson Stadium in this year’s state quarterfinals on Friday.
“I guess there is something about tails, if you’re superstitious,” Pridgen joked. “We love playing at home. We should have a big crowd. We know we’ll get a lot of media attention from a lot of outlets.”
Wesleyan was one of two Gwinnett teams to win a coin flip for home field advantage in the quarterfinals Saturday morning.
No. 2 Buford (11-1) also came out on the right end of its flip and will welcome fourth-ranked Cook (12-0) to Tom Riden Stadium for a Class AA state quarterfinal Friday night.
“Cook is a state championship-caliber football team, so it will still be a challenge,” Buford athletics director Dexter Wood said. “But it’s a tremendous advantage to play at home, and any advantage we can get, we’ll take it.”
Both teams on the losing ends of the flips will be familiar visitors to Gwinnett on Friday.
Cook came to Buford in last year’s quarterfinals, with the Wolves dealing the Hornets a 26-0 loss en route to their third straight state title and fifth in the last eight years.
Meanwhile, Wilcox County came to Henderson Stadium last year and dealt defending champion Wesleyan a 20-15 defeat on its way to the taking the title.
“Great teams focus on the road,” Pridgen said. “In fact, (Ledford) told me he thinks his team is even more focused on the road. We’re not intimidated having them come into our place, and they won’t be intimidated coming here.”
The county’s other four remaining playoff teams had the sites of their Class AAAAA quarterfinal games predetermined by their seedings.
Fourth-ranked Brookwood (11-1) will join Buford and Wesleyan in hosting a quarterfinal game when the Broncos welcome Hillgrove (10-2) — an upset winner over top-ranked Camden County this past Friday — to Brookwood Community Stadium.
Meanwhile, the other three remaining teams will be on the road deep into the heart of South Georgia, with Collins Hill (9-3) traveling to No. 7 Lowndes (10-2), Grayson (9-3) playing just miles from the Eagles when they visit No. 5 Valdosta (11-1) and surprising Mill Creek (7-5) paying a call on Colquitt County (7-5) in Moultrie.