Class AA blog: What to watch in Round 1

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Washington County Golden Hawks at Brooks County Trojans*

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Veterans Stadium, Quitman

Records, seedings, rankings: Washington County is 7-3, the No. 3 seed from Region 3 and unranked; Brooks County is 6-4, the No. 2 seed from Region 1 and No. 7.

Last meeting: Washington County won 34-30 in the second round of the 2018 AA playoffs.

Notes: This is a matchup of No. 2 and No. 3 seeds that both came close to winning region titles. Brooks County lost 31-20 to Thomasville, which was 2-4 at the time and had been projected as a 12-point underdog by the Maxwell Ratings, in the game that ultimately decided the Region 1-AA title. Washington County was upset by 17-point underdog Northeast on Nov. 1, or its game against Dublin last week (which Washington County won 27-23) would have been for the Region 3 championship. Washington County is led by two 1,000-yard rushers, senior Sha'Marcus Poole (160 carries, 1,476 yards, 21 touchdowns) and junior Malyk Walker (90-1,033-12). Poole ran for 165 yards and three touchdowns in the victory against Dublin. Brooks County averages 207.4 yards rushing and 146.0 passing. Junior quarterback Ni'tavion Burrus has passed for 1,367 yards and 15 touchdowns and has run for 462 yards. Omari Arnold is the leading rusher with 1,023 yards and 10 touchdowns. In last year's playoff meeting, Brooks County quarterback Jacolby Brown was stopped inches short of the goal line on a fourth-down play with 14 seconds remaining. Brown, then a senior, was the 1-AA player of the year in 2018.

Winner plays: Temple/Rockmart winner

*Courtesy of GHSF Daily

Vidalia Indians at Jefferson County Warriors

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Warrior Field, Louisville

Records, seedings, rankings: Vidalia is 7-3, the No. 4 seed from Region 2 and unranked; Jefferson County is 8-2, the No. 1 seed from Region 4 and unranked.

Last meeting: Vidalia won 34-10 in 2009.

Maxwell's projection: Vidalia by 1.

Notes: Though these teams haven't played in a decade when both were members of 3-AA, they remarkably still have the same coaches. JB Arnold is in his 19th season with the Warriors and Lee Chomksis has been with the Indians since 2007. The two teams were also opponents in 3-AAA in 2000-01, but Friday will be the first time they've met in the playoffs. The Warriors come in as region champions for a second straight year and third time in the last five seasons. Further, they've advanced in the playoffs in each of the last six seasons including the quarterfinals last year. They've qualified for the playoffs 18 straight seasons. Because they come from a nine-team region, the Warriors only played two non-conference games and both were against AA schools. They lost to both of those teams (Swainsboro, Washington County) but then ran the tables in league play, winning all games by double digits. The Warriors aren't much in the passing game, with senior quarterback Carlton Brown going 24-of-64 passing for 243 yards and three touchdowns to eight interceptions. However, the run game is a different story. Brown is the team's leading rushing with 729 yards on 134 carries, adding seven touchdowns. Senior Desmond Beale has a team-high eight rushing touchdowns and 317 yards on 26 carries. In all, the Warriors have six rushers in the regular rotation for carries. Linebacker Kydren Jenkins leads the team with 68 tackles — 6.5 for loss — and has 2.5 sacks. The Indians clawed their way through Region 2, drawing the four-seed after falling into a three-way tie with Toombs County and Swainsboro. They're in the playoffs for an eighth straight season and are seeking their first playoff win since 2016.

Winner plays: Elbert County/Douglass winner

Fitzgerald Purple Hurricane at Bleckley County Royals

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Royal Stadium at Shelly Hayes Field, Cochran

Records, seedings, rankings: Fitzgerald is 7-3, the No. 3 seed from Region 1 and unranked; Bleckley County is 7-3, the No. 2 seed from Region 3 and No. 8.

Last meeting: Bleckley County won 19-10 in Round 1 of the 2006 AA playoffs.

Maxwell's projection: Bleckley County by 2

Notes: This is a battle between a perennial power (the Purple Hurricane) and a budding up-and-comer (the Royals). The Purple Hurricane have been in the playoffs every year this millennium and have racked up 37 wins in that span, reaching the finals three times, the semis eight times and quarters 12 times. In comparison, the Royals have three wins in that span. The Purple Hurricane's only three defeats this season come to ranked teams (A-Public's No. 1 Irwin county and region opponents in No. 6 Thomasville and No. 7 Brooks County), with the region losses coming by less than a touchdown. They enter the playoffs on a skid, having lost two of their last three but it was only last year that they entered the playoffs with the same record and reached the semis. Speaking of sliding into the playoffs, the Royals lost their finale 16-11 to a Southwest team (4-6, 2-4) that finished next to last in Region 3. They sat out key players with injury, including their starting center, but those players are expected to suit up on Friday, however healthy they may be. Other than the Southwest loss, it's been a breakthrough season for a Royals program on the rise. They beat rival Dodge County for the first time in five years and also knocked off Washington County. They're in the playoffs for the first time since 2014 and are seeking their first playoff win since 2013.

Winner plays: Chattooga/Callaway winner

Bracket

Caption
GHSA.net

GHSA.net
Caption
GHSA.net

All other games including Maxwell’s projections

  • Bremen vs. Model -22
  • Callaway vs. Chattooga -34
  • Douglass vs. Elbert County -2
  • Dublin vs. Early County -28
  • Hapeville vs. Putnam County -39
  • Metter vs. Screven County -22
  • Pepperell vs. Heard County -16
  • Rabun Co. vs. B.E.S.T. Academy -41
  • Rockmart vs. Temple -39
  • Swainsboro at Harlem -14
  • Thomasville vs. Dodge County -7
  • Toombs County vs. Hephzibah -20
  • Union County vs. South Atlanta -22

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