Monroe Area’s mission accomplished with big victory in the first round

Footballs are shown on the field before the game between Grayson and Parkview at Parkview High School, Friday, November 3, 2023, in Lilburn, Ga. (Jason Getz /



Footballs are shown on the field before the game between Grayson and Parkview at Parkview High School, Friday, November 3, 2023, in Lilburn, Ga. (Jason Getz /

Upending the defending state champions was the goal for the Monroe Area Purple Hurricanes last week entering the first-round matchup with No. 8 Sandy Creek.

And after a 39-yard overtime field goal from Ricky Valdovinos with no time remaining secured the 24-21 victory, the mission was accomplished.

“Our boys played lights out,” said Monroe Area coach Kevin Reach via text message after the game. “They were resilient.”

The Purple Hurricanes led 7-0 on a 76-yard touchdown pass from Dylan Hamby to Russell Hunley and pushed the lead to 14-0 on a 15-yard pass from Hamby to Parker Sims with three minutes left in the first quarter. Sandy Creek scored on a 5-yard pass to Kyshon Kenney nine minutes before halftime and tied the game at 14 on a run with nine minutes left in the third quarter.

Kenney scored on a 91-yard run with seven minutes left in the third quarter to put Sandy Creek ahead 21-14, but with five minutes left in the game, Monroe Area tied it on a run from Darion Manuel.

Monroe Area’s victory highlighted a somewhat predictable first round where seven of the classification’s No. 1 seeds advanced. Region 6 No. 1 Adairsville, lost to Gilmer, Region 7′s No. 4 seed, 35-28.

One unexpected result happened when No. 4-ranked Savannah Christian escaped with a 48-46 victory against unranked Peach County (4-7, 2-2). The Raiders (9-2, 6-1) entered the playoffs as the No. 2 seed from Region 3 and hosted the Trojans, the No. 3 seed from Region 2.

In the fourth overtime, quarterback Blaise Thomas scored on a 1-yard run to put the Raiders ahead 46-40 and Kenry Wall’s 2-point conversion gave Savannah Christian the 48-46 lead. Peach scored on a 7-yard pass from quarterback D.J. Hudson but could not manage the conversion to force a fifth overtime.

During its last two games, one thing has become clear: Unranked Hebron Christian might have been underappreciated this season. The Lions upended then-No. 2 Stephens County 37-6 to close out the regular season and entered the playoffs as the No. 4 seed from Region 8. Against Cedar Grove, the Region 5 No. 1 seed, in the first round, Hebron narrowly lost 30-27.

Class 3A second-round schedule

R1 #2 Crisp County at R2 #1 Mary Persons

R6 #2 Bremen at R5 #1 Cedar Grove

R1 #3 Thomasville at R3 #1 Calvary Day

R7 #2 Wesleyan at R8 #1 Stephens County

R8 #2 Oconee County at R7 #1 Lumpkin County

R3 #2 Savannah Christian at R4 #1 Morgan County

R7 #4 Gilmer at R8 #3 Monroe Area

R2 #2 Upson-Lee at R1 #1 Carver-Columbus

Class 3A first-round scores

R1 #2 Crisp County 45, R4 #3 Hephzibah 20

R2 #1 Mary Persons 35, R3 #4 Long County 10

R6 #2 Bremen 40, R7 #3 White County 17

R5 #1 Cedar Grove 30, R8 #4 Hebron Christian 27

R1 #3 Thomasville 36, R4 #2 Harlem 29

R3 #1 Calvary Day 48, R2 #4 Jackson 0

R7 #2 Wesleyan 35, R6 #3 Ringgold 14

R8 #1 Stephens County 34, R5 #4 Carver-Atlanta 7

R8 #2 Oconee County 28, R5 #3 Douglass 14

R7 #1 Lumpkin County 52, R6 #4 Gordon Lee 6

R3 #2 Savannah Christian 48, R2 #3 Peach County 46

R4 #1 Morgan County 35, R1 #4 Monroe 14

R8 #3 Monroe Area 24, R5 #2 Sandy Creek 21

R7 #4 Gilmer 35, R6 #1 Adairsville 28

R2 #2 Upson-Lee 46, R3 #3 Savannah Country Day 45

R1 #1 Carver-Columbus 40, R4 #4 Richmond Academy 2