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Prep football notes: Brookwood comeback not quite historic

As amazing as Brookwood's comeback from a 21-point deficit to pull a 24-21 overtime upset over No. 1 state-ranked Lassiter in the first-round of the Class AAAAAA state playoffs may seem, it wasn't unprecedented.

In fact, amidst the celebration with his Broncos (7-4) following Friday night's game at Frank Fillmann Stadium in east Cobb County, head coach Mark Crews' thoughts drifted back some 10 years earlier to a similar rally.

And if history repeats itself, the win can be a good omen for the Broncos' chances for a deep postseason run this year.

"We were (at) Cherokee ... in 2002, my first year as the head coach," Crews remembered. "We were down 17 (points) in the fourth quarter, and came back and won that game and went on to the state championship game against Parkview that year."

History also shows that Brookwood's first-round success shouldn't have come as too much of a surprise for another reason.

The Broncos have made the playoffs each year since Crews' debut in 2002, and have won eight of those first-round games.

Panthers come up big in the clutch

Friday's double-overtime win was nothing really new for Parkview. In fact, close games have been the norm this year.

The Panthers went 7-3 in the regular season and only had four games that were decided by more than a touchdown -- a 20-0 loss against Norcross and wins of 22-7 over Grayson, 28-0 over Shiloh and 38-7 over Berkmar.

Experience in close games seemed to show for the Panthers against Walton. The game could've gotten out of hand early with three turnovers in the first quarter. But a combination of defense and Raider penalties kept Parkview within a touchdown despite not much from the offense before Justis Rosser's 52-yard TD early in the fourth to tie the game.

Keeping the game close allowed Parkview to keep pounding the run instead of being forced to rely on passes. Despite the loss of running back Chris Carson to a broken leg, Parkview still lives and dies on the ground. Rosser and Shaq Vereen combined for 34 carries for 189 yards and three TDs, giving Parkview an important playoff victory in yet another close game.

North knows its challenge

It didn't take long after North Gwinnett easily ousted Johns Creek from the playoffs Friday for the Bulldogs to turn their focus to this week's trip to Grayson.

"Let's not even dance around it," Sphire said. "They are a great football team. They are riding the wave right now at its highest crest. They have a great program."

This will be just the second meeting between the county teams, the other one was also a second-round playoff game won by Grayson at North in 2010.

The sides are swapped for this meeting. Two years ago, it was North entering the game after a dominating regular season and eyes on a deep playoff run. Grayson ended those plans. For Sphire and the Bulldogs, they won't change their approach for an opponent and just barely for the holiday.

"The plan doesn't change," Sphire said. "We have a practice format and a playoff plan."

Norcross vs. South, Part II

Norcross and South Gwinnett met in the regular season opener and they will meet again on Friday in the second round of the playoffs. Norcross won the first meeting 35-20.

"They are a good team," Norcross defensive end Lorenzo Carter said. "I'm sure they cleaned up a little. We cleaned up a little, so it's going to be a good game."

South's only losses of the season have been to Region 7-AAAAAA champion Norcross and Region 8-AAAAAA champion Grayson. Norcross is 11-0 for the second time in school history.

"They are a good football team. They've proved that," Norcross head coach Keith Maloof said. "It's going to be a great game and they are flying high right now. We have to bring our A game. They are going to be ready."

Shutout slips away from Norcross

Norcross appeared to be headed toward its third shutout of the season late in the third quarter of Friday's 34-7 win over Chattahoochee.

The Blue Devils had the ball on their own 10 when quarterback Joseph Wilber fumbled the exchange with running back Alvin Kamara.

Chattahoochee's Trey Hillman pounced on the ball in the end zone for the score.

"It was disappointing," Norcross defensive end Lorenzo Carter said of losing the shutout.

The score denied Norcross the shutout, but Carter was quick to point out the first-team defense success this year at home.

"First team defense hasn't let anyone score on our field all year," Carter said. "We have to keep that up each game. We're going to keep after it in the playoffs."

Late first-half score key for Comets

When Milton scored with 59 seconds left in the second quarter Friday night, cutting South Gwinnett's lead to 20-10, it looked like the momentum was heading the Eagles' way at halftime.

But the Comets, thanks to a short squib kick that failed by Milton, answered with a score of their own that turned out to be the difference in a 27-20, first-round win.

"That touchdown before the half was huge," South head coach John Small said.

Taking over near midfield, South quarterback Jordan Ramey hit Coray Keel for 17 yards and then Tyrone Atchison for 32. After a 1-yard run by Bernard Morrison, South called timeout with 33 seconds left. Morrison scored on a 4-yard run on the following play for a 27-10 halftime lead.

Multiple plays make the difference for Hawks

So much happened during the course of the wild 41-39 win by Mill Creek over Alpharetta in the opening round of the Class AAAAAA state football playoffs that it is difficult to pinpoint one or two plays that made the difference.

But you can look directly at a few things:

-- Alpharetta had no answer for Mill Creek running back Jacorey Lewis, who rushed for an astonishing 335 yards on 37 carries and all three Hawks' touchdowns. Lewis had four runs that were 26 yards or better. Lewis had 82 yards and one run over 10 yards at the half. He had runs of 12, 5, 12, 15 and 2 on Mill Creek's game-winning 14-play, 86-yard drive.

-- Daniel David hit on 8 of 19 passing for 139 yards with no completion more important than his 25-yard strike to Michael Cheeks on fourth-and-10 from the Hawks' 14 to kick-start the game-winning drive. David's primary target was Matthew Pursell, who caught three passes for 47 yards.

-- Speaking of that game-winning march into the second round of the playoffs, Mill Creek sophomore place-kicker Bryson King had hit his only field goal attempt of the season coming into the Alpharetta game. So the pressure was there as the playoffs began and every point becoming critical. King made his first attempt -- a 32-yarder -- and then had two blocked in the second half before delivering the game-winning 25-yarder with seven seconds left.

Sheehan pays tribute to injured teammate

Collins Hill came into Friday's contest at West Forsyth missing several key players with injuries. One glance at the roster at the start of the game, however, might have led one to believe that some of those players were in the lineup.

Starting quarterback Brett Sheehan, who had been hobbling the past few weeks with an ankle injury, honored one of his injured teammates by wearing the No. 5 jersey instead of his usual No. 11.

The number change did well for Sheehan as he finished with 349 yards and five touchdowns (four of those to Grant McDonald) on 27 of48 attempts.

The No. 5 jersey belonged to Tyler Henderson, one of Collins Hill's starting running backs. Henderson's season was put to an end with a broken collarbone.

"That was something we talked about doing," head coach Kevin Reach said. "I've been coaching 24 years and I've never seen anything like this season as far as injuries are concerned."

-- Sports Editor Will Hammock, staff writers Ben Beitzel, Brandon Brigman and David Friedlander, senor correspondent Scott Smith and staff correspondents Steve Argo, Michael Buckelew contributed to this report