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HAMMOCK: Let's not have another "Black Friday" of prep football

Sports Editor Will Hammock 

Sports Editor Will Hammock 

'Black Friday' evokes bad football memories

Let's hope we don't get another "Black Friday" in high school football this year.

Three years ago, that was the large headline that adorned the Saturday, Nov. 28, Daily Post sports section. More than just an annual shopping spree, the phrase represented the mood surrounding Gwinnett prep football when nearly every local team remaining in the playoffs lost in one evening.

Only Buford, which beat Cook 26-0, survived that night. Eventually the Wolves won the state title, but others didn't fare so well in the 2009 quarterfinals.

Camden County trounced North Gwinnett 35-0. Peachtree Ridge lost a triple-overtime game at Northside-Warner Robins, 20-17. Grayson lost 9-7 to Newnan thanks to current Georgia star Alec Ogletree, who made a ridiculous catch for the go-ahead touchdown and then blocked a game-saving field goal in the waning seconds. Wesleyan lost 20-15 to Wilcox County.

As far as the playoffs go, it was one of the least memorable days in Gwinnett football history. That disappointing season has been sandwiched by great local successes, which I expect to continue the next few weeks.

But getting past Friday, and the state quarterfinals, generally means one of the toughest tests of the postseason. It's when North Georgia's best meets South Georgia's best for the first time, and every Gwinnett team has a major challenge this week.

In what looks like a state-title bout on paper, second-ranked Norcross, the last Class AAAAAA unbeaten at 12-0, travels to many's state title favorite, Camden County. Parkview hosts another title favorite in No. 10 Colquitt County, No. 5 North Gwinnett plays at No. 7 Lovejoy and Mill Creek plays at North Cobb in a matchup of unranked teams.

In AAA, third-ranked Buford plays at No. 2 Carver-Columbus in a heavyweight matchup. No. 10 Greater Atlanta Christian hosts Early County in a AA showdown on Friday. A few key wins could keep Gwinnett among the state's best in football --at least one local team has won state for the past six seasons and 10 of the past 12. However, a few key losses and the season could end sadly for the county.

How will Gwinnett fare in the six games Friday? Will all six teams advance? Will nobody move on?

I hope the latter isn't the case. "Black Friday" was quite the downer a few years ago and I'm not ready for another one.

Will Hammock can be reached via email at will.hammock@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Thursdays. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/willhammock.