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Class AA blog: In brief — Jefferson County’s Arnold goes for win No. 150

On Saturday at Lakewood Stadium in Atlanta, the Douglass Astros defeated Elbert County 48-21, which concluded Round 1 of the AA playoffs. That left my tournament predictions, which I released last week, unblemished.

(For the recap of Friday’s games, go here.)

To be honest, I'm shocked the games played out the way I picked them. There were a lot of tough calls. In fact, when I first started making my picks, I originally had South Atlanta beating Union County before I changed my mind. I knew it would be close, and in the end the Panthers prevailed 19-15 for their first true playoff win in a program history that dates back to 1957.

The Hephzibah-Toombs County game was also as close as I expected, as was the Screven County-Metter game.

I was equally impressed and surprised with the lopsided victories of Jefferson County over Vidalia (20-3) and Pepperrell over defending state champion Heard County (27-7). Jefferson County was only a 1-point favorite according to Maxwell’s projections.

I knew I'd see an uptick in play from Fitzgerald, and the Purple Hurricane's win over No. 8 Bleckley County was technically an upset, though not a surprise — except maybe for the crooked score (30-12).

There were three shutout wins and all came from the right side of the bracket: Hapeville Charter beat Putnam County 55-0, Rabun County beat B.E.S.T. Academy 38-0 and Bremen beat Model 17-0.

The team I picked to win it all, the Callaway Cavaliers, looked strong as expected in a 54-7 blowout of Chattooga. However, they face a very tough Fitzgerald in the second round with no guarantees of a victory. This should be a close game.

I have the top-ranked Rockmart Yellow Jackets meeting Callaway in the semifinals, but now I’m not so confident last year’s runner-ups will make it out of the second round. On Friday against Temple, they lost their quarterback Javin Whatley in the second quarter and he didn’t return. As of Tuesday morning, Whatley was awaiting MRI results to determine the extent of his injury. Whatley’s absence was felt, as the Jackets, who were 39-point favorites, only won 24-7.

If Whatley is unable to play, I don’t think the Jackets get past Brooks County. The Trojans dominated once-ranked Washington County, winning 42-14 in a game they were favored to win by 1. Further, the Trojans played one of the toughest schedules in AA, so don’t let the 7-4 record fool you.

Other teams I picked to move onto the quarterfinals that could struggle in the second around are Thomasville against Pepperrell and Jefferson County against Douglass. Toombs County could slow down Rabun County a little, but I still expect a double-digit win from the Wildcats.

My bracket survived Round 1, so we’ll see if Round 2 puts a few dents in it.

In brief:

  • If the Jefferson County Warriors beat Douglass at home on Friday, it will be JB Arnold's 150th win with the Warriors. Arnold, who took over the the program in 2001, is in his 19th season and has a record of 149-70-3, including six region championships. The Warriors are 9-2 this year and won their second straight Region 4 title.
  • GHSF Daily reports that KIPP Atlanta Collegiate coach James Briscoe has resigned after just one season in which the Warriors finished 2-8, including 1-6 in Region 6. The Warriors have just one winning season since launching the program in 2013, when they went 7-4 in 2016 for their only playoff appearance. The Warriors' next coach will be their fourth in as many seasons.
  • Westside will remain in 4-AA after a successful appeal on Tuesday. The Patriots had been slated to move into AAA. They finished this season 3-7, 2-6, their best record in the last five years.
  • Former Hapeville Charter receiver Rory Starkey is making a name for himself at Penn. Here he is catching a touchdown Saturday. He proved to be a difference maker in Penn's 24-20 win over Harvard.
  • Thomasville coach Zach Grage is a proud Evansville alum after the Indiana school shocked the world last week by beating top-ranked Kentucky in basketball.
  • Former Chattooga player Devin Price scored his first college touchdown recently for Shorter. All On Georgia has the story.
  • Hephzibah defensive back Jaiden Wofford has been invited to play in the Georgia vs. Florida HS Showcase.
  • Thomasville tight end and Cincinnati commit Payten Singletary was named WTXL's scholar athlete of the week.
  • Bleckley County coach Von Lassiter and Dublin coach Roger Holmes spoke with Midday Sports Zone ahead of their Round 1 matchups.
  • You can listen to Bleckley County's broadcast of the Royals' final game of 2019 against Fitzgerald.
  • It's the end of an era at Chattooga with long-time assistant Bob Smith retiring. Cassie Bryant has the story for All On Georgia.
  • Hapeville Charter alum Joseph Ross has been invited to participate in the HBCU Spirit of America Bowl.
  • Social Circle's Blake Barfield and Gage Boone will play in the FCA All-Star Game 7 p.m., Dec. 19 at Clarke Central in Athens.
  • Blitz has highlights of Rabun County's Round 1 win.
  • WTXL has highlights of Thomasville's Round 1 win.
  • WJBF has highlights of the Vidalia-Jefferson County, Swainsboro-Harlem, Screven County-Metter and Washington County-Brooks County games from Round 1.
  • Check out this 51-yard touchdown run by Callaway's Tank Bigsby on the first play from scrimmage of the Cavaliers' Round 1 win.
  • WRBL has full highlights of Callaway's win.
  • Here's full highlights from ToombsNow of Toombs County's win over Hephzibah in the first round.
  • Former Hapeville Charter standout Kinglsey "JJ" Enagbare continues to make plays for South Carolina.
  • Tom Lemming of CBS Sports Network recently visited with Hapeville Charter four-star defensive end Zavier Carter.
  • Hapeville Charter's Eric Hilton recovered from the Hornets' first-round victory in a Cryogen chamber.
  • Check out Dodge County running back Daylon Gordon's 92-yard touchdown run against Thomasville from Round 1.

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