Class 4A Blog: First Round Primer

The State Playoffs kickoff on Friday for Class 4A and the first point I want to emphasize is how much deeper and more talented the classification has been this season in comparison to last year. Reclassification brought in several private schools, including Pace Academy, Westminster, Lovett, Trinity Christian and Holy Innocents’ and teams like Wayne County, Burke County, Whitewater, Stockbridge, Sonoraville and Walnut Grove also earning playoff berths in their Class 4A debuts.

Now, let’s breakdown the bracket, starting with the top left quadrant. Pace Academy (8-2) is having its best season since it won the Class 2A state title in 2015, but earned the No. 3 seed and will visit Stephenson. The Jags are 6-3 and their only three losses this season were to Class 5A Dutchtown in their season opener, a 32-27 loss to Carver-Atlanta and then a 42-14 loss to Holy Innocents’ that resulted in them earning the No. 2 seed out of Region 6. No. 1 ranked Cedartown will host Cedar Shoals and Burke County will visit LaGrange for a top 10 showdown as the Grangers are fresh off last week’s win over Troup. The final game in this stacked quadrant will be Baldwin at Region 1 champion Bainbridge. Both programs have routinely made deep runs in the past and Bainbridge comes into the playoffs blazing hot with zero losses within the classification this season.

On the bottom left, Westminster will look to beat Lovett again after previously scoring a 14-0 victory over the Lions to kickoff the season. Lovett will host the Wildcats after earning the No. 2 seed out of Region 5 with a 6-1 region mark. No. 2 ranked North Oconee (10-0) will host Sonoraville and Region 4′s Trinity Christian will travel down to Wayne County for another battle as the Lions continue running through the Class 4A gauntlet. Also in the bottom right quadrant will be Shaw at No. 3 ranked Perry—who hasn’t lost since its one-point defeat to Houston County to open the season.

On the top right quadrant, Spalding will host Westover after earning the No. 2 seed behind Perry. Whitewater comes out of Region 4 as arguably the most talented No. 4 seed on the bracket and will visit reigning state champion Benedictine in a challenging draw for both programs to start the postseason. Heritage-Catoosa earned the No. 3 seed out of a crowded Region 7 and will visit Walnut Grove—who has racked up a school-record 8-2 season to earn home field for the first time in school history. The Warriors will be looking for the program’s first-ever playoff win. The final matchup in the top right quadrant will be a battle-tested No. 4 seed Hapeville Charter taking on Region 5 champion Stockbridge—who has won seven-straight and is yet to lose within the classification.

The bottom right quadrant of the bracket starts with Westside-Macon at Cairo. The Syrupmakers come off a tough loss to Bainbridge and Westside-Macon comes out of a tough Region 3 as the No. 3 seed after battling with the likes of Perry, Spalding, Baldwin and Griffin—who actually defeated Westside-Macon 35-14, but missed out on the playoffs after entering a three-way tie with Baldwin and the Seminoles. Region 3 No. 4 seed New Hampstead will take on 9-1 Troup and will have to contest with the memorizing playmaking ability of quarterback Taeo Todd. Madison County will visit a Central-Carroll team that has averaged 227.7 rushing yards per game and scored 33 of its 46 offensive touchdowns on the ground this season. Finally, Hampton carries a school-record 7-3 mark into its first-round trip to Holy Innocents’ and that resume includes a win over Central-Carroll earlier in the year. The Hornets will be attempting to win a playoff game for the first time in school history against a Holy Innocents’ team that runs the triple option. Holy Innocents’ has only turned over the football six times this season and has produced 30 turnovers defensively—giving the Golden Bears’ a plus-24 turnover margin heading into kickoff.

Class 4A First Round Pairings

TOP LEFT QUADRANT

R5#3 Pace Academy at R6#2 Stephenson

R8#4 Cedar Shoals at R7#1 Cedartown

R3#3 Burke County at R4#2 LaGrange

R2#4 Baldwin at R1#1 Bainbridge

BOTTOM LEFT QUADRANT

R6#3 Westminster at R5#2 Lovett

R7#4 Sonoraville at R8#1 North Oconee

R4#3 Trinity Christian at R3#2 Wayne County

R1#4 Shaw at R2#1 Perry

TOP RIGHT QUADRANT

R1#3 Westover at R2#2 Spalding

R4#4 Whitewater at R3#1 Benedictine

R7#3 Heritage-Catoosa at R8#2 Walnut Grove

R6#4 Hapeville Charter at R5#1 Stockbridge

BOTTOM RIGHT QUADRANT

R2#3 Westside-Macon at R1#2 Cairo

R3#4 New Hampstead at R4#1 Troup

R8#3 Madison County at R7#2 Central-Carroll

R5#4 Hampton at R6#1 Holy Innocents’