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THE BLITZ: Fresh blood in quarterfinals for Gwinnett teams

As I look at the Class AAAAAA playoff bracket, there are some Gwinnett County football teams I'm not used to seeing in the quarterfinals.

North Gwinnett, Mill Creek, Norcross and Parkview will play this Friday in the state playoffs.

You'll notice Grayson and Brookwood, the last two state champions, are not among the group.

That means Gwinnett could have a new school hoisting the championship trophy at the Georgia Dome in three weeks.

Of the four teams left, North has the most recent experience with deep playoff runs. The Bulldogs lost in the second round the last two years, but before that went to the quarterfinals four straight years.

A third-round playoff appearance used to be normal for Parkview. The Panthers reached the quarterfinals 11 straight years from 1995-2005. Parkview was 0-for-4 in the playoffs since then, but a pair of overtime wins has the Panthers back in the quarterfinals.

Norcross is in the quarterfinals for the third time in the program's long history. The Blue Devils last reached the third round in 2006.

Mill Creek is in the playoffs for the third time in school's nine-year history. The Hawks are in the quarterfinals for the second time in three years.

In the smaller classifications, Buford is no stranger to the quarterfinals. The Wolves are in the third round for the 13th straight year.

It's a different story for Greater Atlanta Christian, which is in the quarterfinals for the first time since 2007.

There's some fresh blood in the quarterfinals for Gwinnett teams. I think it just adds to the argument of how deep the football talent is in the area.

GWINNETT'S PLAYOFF TEAMS

Class AAAAAA

North Gwinnett at Lovejoy

Mill Creek at North Cobb

Norcross at Camden County

Colquitt County at Parkview

Class AAA

Buford at Carver-Columbus

Class AA

Early County at GAC

IMPRESSIONS FROM FRIDAY

Region 7 wins battle with Region 8

For the last two years Region 8 has won the battle with fellow Gwinnett Region 7. Region 8 produced the last two state champions in Grayson and Brookwood.

It appears the power has shifted north again to Region 7.

Region 7 went 8-7 against Region 8 this season, including 3-0 in last week's playoff games. Region 7 has three teams left in the playoffs — Norcross, North, Mill Creek — and Region 8 has just one with Parkview.

The Panthers can keep Region 8's bragging rights by bringing home another state title.

North score a surprise over Rams

For a lot of people, the shocker of last Friday was North Gwinnett beating defending state champion Grayson.

I don't think it should be too much of a surprise. North is a good team. The Bulldogs have only lost one game and that was to No. 2 ranked Norcross.

I think the surprise is the score of the game, a 28-10 win for North. I didn't imagine such a lopsided game. It probably would have been worse if North scored TDs instead of kicking field goals.

The same things that hurt Grayson in its loss to Parkview were the same things against North — turnovers and penalties. The Rams had four turnovers (three fumbles and an interception) and more than 100 yards in penalties. It doesn't matter who you are facing in the playoffs, it's hard to win a game with those kind of stats.

Cardiac cats continue to win

Parkview head coach Cecil Flowe had some heart problems bother him late in the season. I don't know if his team's two overtime playoff wins have helped his health.

Parkview is finding ways to win in the playoffs, which is all that matters right now. They need extra time to do it, but running back Justis Rosser and the Panthers' defense continue to shine each week.

At this point in the year, I don't think there's a team that's been in more closer games and won.

Hawks' offense clicking

I was at the Mill Creek vs. Brookwood game at the beginning of the season, which the Broncos won. I felt like the Hawks could have won that game if running back Jacorey Lewis didn't get hurt and miss most of the second half.

Lewis turned in another big game with a 252-yard performance to push him over 2,000 yards this season in Friday's second round win.

Mill Creek has scored 97 points in its last two games. It makes you wonder if there's a team that can either keep pace with the Hawks' offense or at least slow them down.

Christmas list

Before the playoffs started, I was hoping for Grayson vs. Norcross in the state finals. The Rams lost, so I'm adjusting my prediction to North vs. Norcross. How cool would a Region 7 re-match in the Georgia Dome with the state title on the line be?

I know I'm being greedy, but I also want an all-Gwinnett semifinal. A county sweep this week and we would have North vs. Mill Creek and Norcross vs. Parkview in the fourth round. Both games would be regular season rematches.