File Photo Norcross quarterback Scotty Hosch throws during the Bulldogs' game against Norcross earlier this season.
When it comes to winning football games, North Gwinnett has been pretty successful in Region 7-AAAAA and across Gwinnett County.
The Bulldogs have even beaten some of the top teams in Metro Atlanta and some ranked out-of-state schools as well.
North's Achilles' heel, though, has been South Georgia schools. Particularly in the playoffs.
The Bulldogs have had their season ended by a South Georgia squad three of the last five seasons.
They'll get a chance to redeem themselves tonight when the Bulldogs host Colquitt County. The winner gets the Marietta-Camden County winner in next week's quarterfinals.
"We haven't fared very well against them," North Gwinnett head coach Bob Sphire said. "We've taken some whoopings."
North was knocked out of the playoffs by Tift in 2006, Lowndes in 2007 and Camden County in 2009. They lost to Newnan, which is not quite South Georgia but is 20 miles south of the perimeter, in the 2008 postseason.
In North's defense, the Lowndes game was in the state finals. The Vikings were in their heyday, winning their third title in four years. The Camden loss was part of the Wildcats' run to the state championship that season.
North (10-1) faces a Colquitt County (9-2) team that reached last year's state finals before losing to state champion Brookwood.
The Packers are led by fourth-year coach Rush Propst, who guided Hoover (Ala.) to national prominence in the early 2000s and was featured on the MTV reality TV show "Two-A-Days."
Propst's fast-paced offense has averaged 30 points a game this season and is led by quarterback Cole Segraves. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound junior transferred from White County and has thrown for more than 1,500 yards and 15 TDs.
"He's a big, physical, imposing quarterback," Sphire said.
Colquitt County tight end Ty Smith has committed to Georgia and he leads the team in catches (38) and receiving yards (585).
"He's very athletic and he can do a lot," Sphire said. "That changes things."
If Segraves and Smith weren't hard enough to stop, the Packers have a massive offensive line. The group is led by 6-foot, 265-pound center Bryce Giddens, who was a state placer in wrestling, and is headed to Southern Mississippi. Guard Preston Mobley (6-3, 275) has drawn interest from several Division I schools and has an offer from Alabama-Birmingham.
"They are big. It's very difficult to get to that quarterback. They are a big offensive line and they look like a college line," Sphire said.
The group will be a challenge for North Gwinnett's defensive line. The unit is led by Jordan Washington, a Mississippi State commitment, and Justin Alabi leads the team in sacks with 11. The three-man front rotates seven players throughout the game. Dante Sawyer had a big game last week with four tackles, two for losses, one sack, one QB hurry and one fumble recovery.
"We've played some pretty good (offensive lines). I think that's going to be one of the key matchups," Sphire said.
North quarterback Scotty Hosch is coming off one of his most impressive games of the year. The senior completed his first 21 passes of last week's game and finished 24 of 27 for 253 yards and three touchdowns. All three scores were to receiver Chad Scott.
"He's kind of at the point where great games are the routine," Spire said of Hosch. "He's efficient and so routine. We were in a position they were giving us this coverage and we could exploit it. He just made plays."
North will need more big plays out of Hosch tonight. The Bulldogs have been knocked out the playoffs at home the last two years. As a No. 3 seed, Grayson shocked North last year and Camden used a dominating 35-0 win in 2009.
"If we're going to win this week, we're going to have to play better," Sphire said.