Round 2: GHSA defending champions will be tested Friday

Langston Hughes head coach Daniel “Boone” Williams is shown on the sideline during their game against Rome in the Class 6A semi-final at Lakewood Stadium, Friday, December 2, 2022, in Atlanta. Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Langston Hughes head coach Daniel “Boone” Williams is shown on the sideline during their game against Rome in the Class 6A semi-final at Lakewood Stadium, Friday, December 2, 2022, in Atlanta. Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Defending champions will be on hot seats Friday when the football playoffs resume with 64 second-round games.

Reigning Class 6A champion Hughes plays at No. 6 Rome. Each has an outstanding senior quarterback. Hughes’ Air Noland surpassed 10,000 passing yards for his career last week. Rome’s Reece Fountain has thrown for more than 8,500 yards.

In Class 5A, Ware County plays No. 9 Warner Robins. That’s a rematch of the 2022 final won by Ware County. Warner Robins, as a region champion, is the home team.

Benedictine of 4A is at home to No. 10 LaGrange, and Thomson of 2A is home to No. 4 Toombs County.

One defending champion, Sandy Creek of Class 3A, bowed out last week, beaten by Monroe Area on a last-play field goal.

Here are more things to know about the second round:

No. 1 teams: All got through the first round comfortably. They are Mill Creek in 7A, Gainesville in 6A, Coffee in 5A, Benedictine in 4A, Calvary Day in 3A, Thomson in 2A, Prince Avenue Christian in A Division I and Schley County in A Division II.

New faces: Bryan County and Lumpkin County are in the second round for the first time. Portal (last appearance 2004), Dade County (2010) and Morgan County (2012), along with Gilmer, Laney, North Paulding, Seminole County, Statesboro (all 2013), are here for the first time in at least 20 years.

Old faces: Nine teams are in the round of 16 for the 10th consecutive year or longer. They are Benedictine (12 consecutive), Buford (25), Callaway (12), Cartersville (12), Cedar Grove (11), Grayson (10), Prince Avenue Christian (13), Ware County (16) and Woodward Academy (10). Long streaks held by Calhoun (23) and Eagle’s Landing Christian (15) ended this season.

Best game: Led by Colorado-committed quarterback A.J. Hill, ninth-ranked Houston County of Class 6A averages 40 points per game. The Bears are playing at Woodward Academy, ranked No. 10, a team that hasn’t allowed more than 17 points to a Georgia team this season. Wake Forest-committed linebacker Andrew Hines is among four Power 5 Conference recruits starting on defense.

Other good ones: In addition to Woodward Academy-Houston County and those involving defending champions, 11 more match top-10 teams. They are No. 8 Westlake at No. 3 Colquitt County in 7A, No. 7 Hiram at No. 3 Jefferson in 5A, No. 7 Perry at No. 3 Bainbridge in 4A, No. 10 Crisp County at No. 3 Mary Persons and No. 4 Savannah Christian at No. 7 Morgan County in 3A, No. 2 Appling County at No. 9 Cook in 2A, No. 3 Macon County at No. 7 Aquinas, No. 8 Swainsboro at No. 9 Lamar County and No. 4 Elbert County at No. 2 Trion in A Division I, No. 6 Greene County at No. 5 Bowdon and No. 9 Jenkins County at No. 10 Dooly County in A Division II.

Too close to call: Dublin at Brooks County, a rematch of the 2019 Class 2A championship game, is rated a pure toss-up by the computer Maxwell Ratings. So is Starr’s Mill at New Hampstead. McEachern is a one-point favorite over Camden County.

History watch: Three teams that Maxwell favors would make the quarterfinals for the first time in history. They are Bryan County, Lumpkin County and Portal. Jenkins County, also favored, has made it to a final eight since 1960.

What’s next: The quarterfinals represent the first time that region champions and other same-seeded teams can meet. In those instances, the teams listed higher on the draw will be at home.