*Defending champions: They are No. 4 Grayson (AAAAAAA), unranked Valdosta (AAAAAA), No. 1 Rome (AAAAA), No. 1 Cartersville (AAAA), No. 1 Cedar Grove (AAA), No. 1 Benedictine (AA), No. 1 Eagle's Landing Christian (A private) and No. 5 Macon County (A public).
*Best player: Cartersville's Trevor Lawrence is the reigning all-classification player of the year and the favorite to win the award again. The Clemson-committed quarterback has thrown for a state-record 13,482 yards in his career.
*Other players to watch: Major college recruits who play on state-contending teams include Rome LB Adam Anderson, Stockbridge LB Brenton Cox, Tucker WR Joshua Vann, Peach County WR Kearis Jackson, Greater Atlanta Christian WR/CB Kyler McMichael, Brookwood WR Matthew Hill and Lee County DB Otis Reese.
*Best first-round matchups: Three first-round games pit ranked teams against each other. They are Northside-Warner Robins at Brunswick (AAAAAA), Griffin at Jones County (AAAAA) and Bremen at Lovett (AA). The best game, based on projected margin of victory, is Marietta at Westlake, pegged as a toss-up by the computer Maxwell Ratings. Marietta (6-4) is the Class AAAAAAA at-large playoff team and hopes to get back its starting quarterback, Bailey Harrison, who has been injured since before mid-season. Westlake is the Region 2 champion and a 2017 semifinalist. The game most people will be watching might take place in Brunswick, where seventh-ranked Glynn Academy plays defending AAAAAA champion Valdosta.
*Good draws: Lowndes is at least 17 points better than every team in its Class AAAAAAA quarter of the draw, according to the Maxwell Ratings. ... The only ranked opponent in Glynn Academy's AAAAAA quarter is Harrison, which is without star QB Justin Fields. ... No. 4 Warner Robins is the highest-ranked AAAAA team in its half of the draw and the only ranked team in its quarter. ... No. 9 Woodward Academy is the highest-ranked team in its AAAA quarter. ... Calhoun has no ranked teams in its AAA quarter.
*Tough draws: No. 4 Grayson and No. 5 North Gwinnett could meet in the second round in Class AAAAAAA. ... Northside-Warner Robins opens on the road at No. 8 Brunswick with the winner potentially to face No. 1 Tucker in AAAAAA. ... No. 2 Buford and No. 3 Stockbridge are in the same quarter of the draw, and in the same half as No. 1 Rome in AAAAA. ... Cartersville is seeded to face four consecutive ranked teams after the first round in defense of its AAAA title. Those in the 'Canes' way - Blessed Trinity and Thomson - don't have a picnic, either. ... No. 8 Bremen and No. 9 Lovett, aside from drawing each other in the first round, are seeded to face No. 3 Greater Atlanta Christian in the AAA second round. And Lovett "won" a coin toss for the honor of that draw. ... No. 1 Benedictine and No. 2 Hapeville Charter could play in the AA quarterfinals, and Benedictine might have to beat No. 10 Jefferson County to get there.
*Where it's headed: The second round is next week, when the eight playoff draws are down to 16 teams in each classification. Class A's top eight seeds in both public and private divisions join the fray after a bye this week.
Produced by Georgia High School Football Daily, a free e-mail newsletter. To join the mailing list, click here.