Previewing Round 2

Top 5 matchup highlights slate; All teams on short rest except 1

Credit: Stock

Credit: Stock

The second round kicks off Friday, and all teams are playing on a short week — except one.

Due to a lack of game officials qualified to call playoff games, Round 1 was split between Friday and Saturday so that officiating crews could be available for two games. Class 2A was assigned Saturday, giving those teams an extra day’s rest from the season finale, but one less day to prepare for Round 2.

However, in Region 5, Callaway was allowed to play its game Friday because it shares a stadium with Troup of 4A, another class required to play Saturday.

Callaway assistant Andrew Caraway said that because the Cavaliers won their region and Troup finished a No. 3 seed, the Cavs got to choose between Friday or Saturday and opted for the former. They beat Providence Christian 49-7 and will face Model on Friday without having to alter their weekly routine.

Here’s a quadrant-by-quadrant look at Round 2.



Upper left

As mentioned, the Cavs, ranked No. 5, are the only 2A team that didn’t play Saturday, and they’re also heavy favorites over Model, projected to win by 34. That falls in line with the only other time these teams met, in Round 1 of the 2016 2A playoffs, when the Cavs won 55-20. The Cavs are seeking a seventh consecutive quarterfinals trip. The Blue Devils, a No. 3 seed, advanced past Therrell for their first playoff win since 2020, and their first road playoff win since winning the 1954 Class B title.

In the other matchup, No. 10 Fitzgerald is a 13-point favorite over host Spencer in the first-ever meeting between these teams. The Purple Hurricane are gunning for a third straight trip to the quarterfinals after coasting past Putnam County. The Greenwave Owls edged No. 4 seeded Vidalia in a shootout for their first playoff win since 2015, when they won their only other playoff game since joining the GHSA in 1968.

Lower left

No. 3 Pierce County is a 23-point favorite over Laney, though both teams are coming off convincing wins with a lot of points scored. The Bears can reach the quarters for a third straight year, and four of the last five, with a win. The Wildcats last reached the quarters in 2013 and have been to the playoffs in all three of Ronnie Baker’s seasons after a four-year drought prior to his arrival. These teams met one other time, last year, in Round 1, and the Bears won 42-14.

The winner faces the winner of North Murray at No. 8 Fellowship Christian, which is another rematch from last year’s postseason. The Paladins, who are seeking their sixth straight trip to the quarters, are 14-point favorites after beating the Mountaineers 49-28 in Round 1 last year. Both the Paladins and Mountaineers blew out their Round 1 opponents, and the Mountaineers have been as far as the quarterfinals just once since the program’s 2009 founding, in 2019.

Upper right

No. 6 Rockmart is a 14-point favorite over Union County and looking for a second straight trip to the quarters. A win would also give the Yellow Jackets back-to-back double-digit win seasons. In the first round, they collected their first playoff shutout since 2018. Union County has playoff wins in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1972-73. The Panthers last reached the quarters in 1973. Rockmart and Union County have never met.

The other matchup is not only amongst ranked teams, but teams inside the top five and with the same name. As mentioned last week, because of the three-way tie for first place in Region 3, No. 4 Toombs County became a No. 2 seed. The Bulldogs put up a season-high for points in Round 1 and have now held opponents to six points or less in seven of 11 games. The No. 1 Thomson Bulldogs are 2A’s defending champs and are seeking a third straight trip to the quarters. With their Round 1 win, they have advanced in all six of Michael Youngblood’s seasons. For the second year in a row, they opened the playoffs with a shutout. Maxwell’s projections favors Toombs County by 2 despite being on the road.

Lower right

One of the Columbia Eagles or North Cobb Christian Eagles will be in the quarterfinals for the first time in awhile. Columbia last reached the quarters in 1997, and North Cobb Christian in 2018. This is yet another rematch from last year’s playoffs, when North Cobb Christian won 14-6 in the first round. While Columbia out-dueled Athens Academy, winning by three scores, North Cobb Christian got all it could handle from Fannin County. Columbia is favored to win by 10.

Finally, all the way at the bottom, nestled away in the corner, is another Top 10 matchup, with No. 2 Appling County traveling to No. 10 Cook. Again because of the three-way tie in Region 3, the Pirates came away with the lowest seed of the tied teams. They are playing their second Top 10 opponent after shutting out No. 7 Northeast in Round 1. That was their first playoff shutout for a program founded in 1952. They are trying to reach the quarters for a fourth straight year. Cook has advanced each of the past two seasons under second-year coach Byron Slack, but hasn’t been to the quarterfinals since 2010. Appling County is a 10-point favorite.

Sources:, Maxwell’s projections

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