First-round highlights: Walton, Creekside get big wins; Hapeville upsets Jefferson

Walton and Creekside, two metro Atlanta teams whose regular seasons didn’t end so well, made the best of their second seasons Friday, each defeating another highly ranked team to advance in the first round of the Georgia high school football playoffs.

Lesser heralded Hapeville Charter and Dawson County came away with the night’s biggest upsets, shooting down Jefferson and Sandy Creek, respectively.

Walton, the No. 9 team in Class 7A, won at No. 6 Colquitt County 41-17. The Raiders had opened the season by beating another South Georgia power, Lowndes, but had been erratic since, finishing 6-3 and getting blown out at home last week by Marietta.

In redemptive fashion, Walton ended Colquitt County’s streak of 12 first-round victories. This was Walton’s fifth consecutive first-round victory, but first on the road against an opponent so highly regarded. Colquitt County had been 18-1 in home playoff games this century.

In Class 5A, No. 5 Creekside defeated No. 7 Coffee 28-18. As did Walton, Creekside started with a bang, beating defending Class 7A champion Grayson in the opener, but settled for the No. 2 seed out of Region 3 after a 21-14 season-finale loss to unbeaten Woodward Academy last week.

The victory over Coffee was Creekside’s first over a South Georgia team since 2006, ending a six-game losing streak in those games, and put the Seminoles in the second round for the fourth consecutive season. Coffee had won seven consecutive first-round games.

Hapeville Charter, a Class 4A team ranked No. 7 in preseason but discounted after a 1-5 start, beat No. 6 Jefferson 12-10 for the Hornets’ fifth consecutive win. Jefferson, the 2020 state runner-up, was No. 1 from preseason through an 8-0 start but lost two of its final three games. Hapeville was a 28-point underdog, according to the computer Maxwell Ratings.

Dawson County, an unranked Class 3A team, beat No. 7 Sandy Creek 36-27. Sandy Creek was coming off a victory last week against then-No. 1 Cedar Grove and was a 15-point favorite. But Dawson County (7-4) now has won first-round games each of the past seasons, only once while ranked.

Only two other top-10 teams lost.

Stephens County beat No. 9 Rockmart 27-13 in Class 3A. Rockmart (9-2) had just won its fifth consecutive region title, but Stephens County (8-3) came from tough Region 8, which also houses No. 1 Monroe Area and No. 2 Oconee County. Stephens County is in the second round for the first time since 2014.

In Class 2A, No. 4 Fitzgerald beat No. 9 Dodge County 15-6 - the exact score and outcome of a game they played Sept. 10.

The first round continued Saturday with Class 6A and classes A Public and A Private.