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.
We've got two weeks left in the regular season and by now you would think I would have some teams figured out. But I just don't. There are some teams that are perplexing this late in the season. Here's what I mean.
The Black Knights opened the season with a win over playoff-bound Collins Hill. The defense even made some big stops at the end. Then the unit was non-existent and the offense began to struggle. Central lost four in a row before knocking off Region 8 leader Parkview in overtime. They obviously have what it takes to be a good team with wins over Collins Hill and Parkview, but for some reason can't put together big wins. Either way, the Parkview win puts Central in position to have its first winning season since 2006 if it can win out.
The Panthers opened the season by scoring just three points in their first two games. Then they beat defending state champion Grayson. The Panthers appeared to be rolling along towards the playoffs until they lost to Central for the first time since 2006.
Now a team that I thought had the formula to make a deep playoff run — good running game, strong defense — has me wondering if they can make it out of the first round.
I thought Dacula would be a playoff team this year after reaching the quarterfinals a year ago. Those hopes vanished the first week of October. Opposing coaches kept telling me they were the best winless team around. They looked like a playoff caliber team with their first win on Friday — a 31-8 victory over an improved Shiloh team.
Dacula has a chance to end the season with three straight wins. It's not the goal Dacula had to start the season, but it would be a pretty good way to end a rough year.
I look at some of the scores from Brookwood games and I wonder if this team can make a deep playoff run. They have a 30-24 win over Shiloh and a 41-27 victory over Berkmar. Granted, Shiloh and Berkmar have improved, but these are teams Brookwood usually wins by four or more scores against.
IMPRESSIONS FROM FRIDAY
Eagles missed Sheehan
I don't know if Collins Hill would have beaten North Gwinnett with a healthy Brett Sheehan. But it certainly didn't help the Eagles when the quarterback left the game in the fourth quarter. Sheehan hurt his ankle at the end of the third quarter and then threw a pick-six. Sheehan missed most of the fourth quarter and no offense is as dangerous with their QB not playing. The Eagles will need a healthy Sheehan to make a deep playoff run.
Parkview's Carson also missed
I knew the bulk of Parkview's offensive success relied on running back Chris Carson, but it was even more evident in Friday's loss to Central. The standout running back was missed as Parkview rushed for just 118 yards and had 153 yards of total offense.
South offense comes back to life
After being shut out by Grayson for the first time this season, South Gwinnett's offense returned to form against Archer. The Comets put up 28 points in the second half to beat Archer. The win secured a playoff spot for the third time in four years.
Region 8 playoff positioning a mess
Brookwood, Grayson, Parkview and South are in a four-way tie for first place in Region 8-AAAAAA with two weeks left in the regular season.
Parkview has tie-breakers over Brookwood and Grayson, but still has to play South in the regular season finale. The Panthers need to win out to claim their first region title since 2004.
Brookwood and South Gwinnett play this week. The Broncos get Grayson in the final week.
Basically, we know nothing except who the four playoff teams are in the region.
Oh yeah, Archer can make things even more interesting by beating Grayson on Thursday.
Norcross claims Region 7 crown
Norcross beat Peachtree Ridge to lock up the No. 1 seed in Region 7-AAAAAA. It's the first since 2008. The Blue Devils are undefeated with three big wins over South, Parkview and North to start the season. They finish the season against winless Meadowcreek next Friday. My concern is that by the time they start the playoffs on Nov. 16 they will have not played a meaningful game in more than a month. Norcross should be well rested by then, but will they still have that competitive edge?
FROM MY NOTEBOOK
North defense steps up
The defensive turnaround North Gwinnett showed in its win over Collins Hill on Friday was pretty impressive.
"What a lot of character they showed," North head coach Bob Sphire said.
The Bulldogs didn't stop one offensive possession by Collins Hill in the first half as the Eagles took a 24-21 lead.
"We just didn't do our thing. They were pressing," North linebacker Carter Cross said.
It was a different story in the second half as North forced punt after punt by the Eagles.
WHAT'S ON TAP?
South Gwinnett at Brookwood
The Battle of Snellville has a lot on the line in terms of playoff positioning. South has only beaten Brookwood four times in the last 30 years. The winner has a shot at home field in the playoffs, the loser will likely be on the road in the first round.
Wesleyan at GAC
These two Norcross private schools renew their rivalry on the football field. Wesleyan has only beaten GAC once in their eight meetings.
A win for GAC puts the Spartans in position to win their first region title since 2001.
Wesleyan needs to win to try and avoid being the No. 4 seed in the region, which will have to face defending state champion Calhoun in the first round.
I couldn't help but look at some of the big games in the final week of the regular season. It's like getting an extra week of playoff games.
Brookwood at Grayson
Parkview at South Gwinnett
Mill Creek at Collins Hill
GAC at Lovett