Editor’s Note: Brandon Brigman, a sports writer for the Daily Post, writes a blog every Monday called “The Blitz.” It is available online at www.gwinnettdailypost.com.
I know I'm going to sound like a Gwinnett homer, but I think the county can sweep its eight playoff games in Class AAAAAA. I really do.
When you look at the matchups, I think they favor Gwinnett teams. Region 7 got paired with Region 6, which I think is one of the weakest regiions in the state.
Region 8 has a tougher chance against Region 5, but the matchup appear to be in Gwinnett's favor.
Either way, the road to the Georgia Dome begins this Friday. Gwinnett has 11 total teams in the playoffs. Grayson is the defending state champions in the highest classification. Buford lost in the finals of last year's Class AA championship game, but is a title contender in Class AAA this year.
Here's some things that standout to me about the playoffs and the brackets.
• I think Grayson and Norcross are Gwinnett's best shot to win state titles. Both programs are on opposite sides of the bracket and will face tough quarterfinal games.
• I think No. 4 seeds Brookwood and Collins Hill win its first-round games. The Broncos have the offense to hang with Lassiter. They just need to come up with a few defensive stops to pull off the upset. Collins Hill has a No. 2 seed caliber team. A tough region has them at No. 4, but a dangerous fourth seed.
• Parkview's hopes of winning its first region title since 2004 didn't happen, but that may be a good thing. The Panthers were put in a good part of the bracket and could make a deep playoff run.
• Gwinnett teams will face each other in the second round and possibly again in the semifinals and finals.
• Gwinnett teams will face Region 1 teams (Camden, Lowndes, Valdosta, Colquitt) in the quarterfinals.
• When it comes to the state title, it's been either a Gwinnett team or South Georgia's Camden and Lowndes in recent years. It looks it will be the same mixture again. Gwinnett's best hopes appear to be Grayson and Norcross, while Region 1's Camden and Lowndes are South Georgia's best.
• Cobb County hasn't had a state champion since 1967. But apparently they have the best coached football in the state. This is from the Marietta Daily Journal before the season started.
"Cobb County football has never been better than what it is right now," said Walton head coach Rocky Hidalgo. "I’ve been coaching a long time, and I’m telling you this is the best coached county in the entire state of Georgia. Nobody top to bottom has better coaching than we do."
• Buford should reach the state quarterfinals with ease, but from there it will be tough to reach the Georgia Dome again for the state finals. The Wolves could face the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked teams in the quarterfinals and semifinals.
• GAC should make a deep run in the Class AA playoffs. The Spartans got put in a good part of the bracket. I think they can make it to the semifinals.
• Wesleyan has a tough road in the playoffs. The Wolves get defending state champion Calhoun in the first round. Wesleyan had a bye last Friday, so they've had two weeks to prepare for them. I think the Wolves can make this game interesting. If they can pull off the upset, they are still in the toughest part of the Class AA bracket.
GWINNETT'S PLAYOFF TEAMS
You can check out the whole bracket here on the GHSA's web site.
• Wheeler at Grayson
• Johns Creek at North Gwinnett
• Brookwood at Lassiter
• Mill Creek at Alpharetta
• Chattahoochee at Norcross
• Milton at South Gwinnett
• Collins Hill at West Forsyth
• Parkview at Walton
• Cedar Grove at Buford
(Note: The bracket has Buford listed as playing Woodward. That appears to be an error since Cedar Grove beat Woodward and they both have the same region record.)
• Model at GAC
• Wesleyan at Calhoun
GETTING SCORING UPDATES FROM THE DAILY POST
The Daily Post will have scoring updates for its playoff teams during the postseason, just like we did during the regular season. Go to www.gwinnettprepsports.com or follow us on Twitter @gdpfootball.
IMPRESSIONS FROM FRIDAY
Kicking game decides three teams fate
Late-game field goals and extra points decided the outcome of three games on Friday.
South Gwinnett kicked a 31-yard field goal in the final seconds to beat Parkview. The kick gave South the No. 2 spot and denied Parkview the region title.
Mill Creek blocked a game-tying field goal by Collins Hill as time expired. The win put Mill Creek as the No. 3 seed seed and Collins Hill at No. 4.
GAC missed a PAT in the final minutes of the game and lost 31-30. The loss denied the Spartans the region title and gave them the No. 2 seed in the region.
Berkmar surging into offseason
One of the biggest upsets of the year will be Berkmar's win over Dacula. It was the Patriots' first win over the Falcons since 1994. Berkmar head coach Jonathan Sanks just completed his third season at the Lilburn school. A win over Dacula, who was a playoff team last year, is just what the Patriots need going into offseason workouts.
Grayson's scoreless streak ends
Brookwood lost 42-13 to Grayson on Friday, but the Broncos did something the last four Rams opponents couldn't — score. The Broncos scored 13 points in the second quarter, snapping the Rams' 17-quarter scoreless streak.
A LOOK BACK
At the beginning of the season I made regular season predictions for each Gwinnett County team. Below are how the teams finished this year with the my prediction next to them.
I picked three of the four playoff teams correctly, but the order was a little different than I imagined.
1. Grayson (10-0 prediction, 9-1 actual)
The loss to Parkview was a surprise, but the Rams regrouped and have been dominant late in the regular season. The defending state champs look ready for another deep playoff run.
2. South Gwinnett (6-4 prediction, 8-2 actual)
South's only losses were to Region 7 and Region 8 champions Norcross and Grayson. I thought the Comets could make the playoffs as a four seed, but they exceeded my expectations with a No. 2 spot.
3. Parkview (5-5 prediction, 7-3 actual)
I wasn't sure if Parkview would be able to survive its tough early season schedule. It did and that's why the Panthers are in the playoffs.
4. Brookwood (8-2 prediction, 6-4 actual)
I had the Broncos down as the No. 2 seed, but some tough losses to Parkview and South changed that. The Broncos are a better than usual No. 4 seed in the playoffs.
5. Archer (6-4 prediction, 6-4 actual)
I thought Archer would be on the cusp of making the playoffs and the Tigers were this season. A couple of close losses to Brookwood and Parkview could have changed the Tigers' season.
6. Central Gwinnett (3-7 prediction, 6-4 actual)
One of the biggest surprises of the season. The Black Knights pulled off wins over playoff teams Collins Hill and Parkview.
7. Bekmar (1-9 prediction, 2-8 actual)
Berkmar didn't put up a lot of wins this season, but this program is better than it was last year. The Patriots got a big win over Dacula to end the season.
8. Dacula (7-3 prediction, 1-9 actual)
The biggest disappointment of the season. I had the Falcons as the No. 3 seed in the playoffs. Injuries, experience and a tough schedule hurt the Falcons.
9. Shiloh (3-7 prediction, 3-7 actual)
Generals have greatly improved their play, but still have a ways to go to compete for a playoff spot.
I picked three of the four playoff teams in the correct order. That No. 3 slot threw me off.
1. Norcross (10-0 prediction, 10-0 actual)
The very talented Blue Devils have lived up to regular season expectations, but we'll see if they have what it takes for a deep playoff run.
2. North Gwinnett (8-2 prediction, 9-1 actual)
The Bulldogs' run as region champs ended, but this is still a dangerous playoff team.
3. Mill Creek (4-6 prediction, 7-3 actual)
I had the Hawks as the No. 5 team in the region. I knew they had the talent, but two key injuries, most notably at QB, had me weary they would struggle this year. Sophomore QB Daniel David and the rest of the Hawks proved me wrong.
4. Collins Hill (7-3 prediction, 6-4 actual)
The Eagles were predicted as a No. 4 seed, but we a couple of plays away from possibly being a No. 2 seed this year. This will be a dangerous team in the playoffs.
5. Peachtree Ridge (6-4 prediction, 4-6 actual)
The Lions were projected as my No. 3 seed in the region, but struggled early in the season and could never put consecutive wins together.
6. Duluth (5-5 prediction, 4-6 actual)
I thought the Wildcats would upset someone to give them a .500 record, but that never happened. The program is on the cusp of being really good.
7. Mountain View (3-7 prediction, 3-7 actual)
The Bears are still a young program and growing. They showed some things at times, but need to be more consistent in a tough region.
8. Habersham Central (2-8 prediction, 1-9 actual)
Heabersham's return to Gwinnett football wasn't pretty. The Raiders are one of the smallest schools in Class AAAAAA and will continue to struggle.
9. Meadowcreek 0-10 prediction, 0-10 actual)
The Mustangs might play harder for four quarters than any other team in the county. Unfortunately, it hasn't translated into wins yet. The program is still a work in progress, but is showing improvement.
5. Lanier (6-4 prediction, 5-5 actual)
I thought the Longhorns could be the No. 4 seed in the playoffs. The third-year program was close, but an overtime loss cost them a possible playoff spot.
2. Buford (10-0 prediction, 7-3 actual)
Buford had to forfeit two regions wins for using an academically ineligible player in the fourth quarter of blowout wins. That cost them a region title, but the Wolves are still a title contender in Class AAA.
2. GAC (5-5 prediction, 7-3 actual)
I had GAC projected as the No. 3 seed and the Spartans nearly won the region title. It was hard to predict their record with so many non-region games, but the Spartans set themselves up for a deep playoff run.
4. Wesleyan (3-7 prediction, 4-6 actual)
I had the Wolves as the No. 4 seed in the playoffs. Like GAC, it was tough to predict their record with so many non-region games against larger schools. The level of competition should help in the playoffs.
7. Hebron (5-5 prediction, 1-9 actual)
I thought Hebron could be on the cusp of making the playoffs, but that didn't happen. The young program hit some serious growing pains this year.