What does four Gwinnett County “powerhouses”, two consistent programs, and two “newer” schools have in common? All of them are in the opening round of the GHSA Football AAAAA Playoffs that start Friday Night in Gwinnett County and other surrounding areas. There are couple of games that look promising. but other that look like a David vs. Goliath matchup. Let the madness that is the HS Football Playoffs begin!!!
Let’s start with the David vs. Goliath matchups of the opening round. Alpharetta High School (8-2 Overall; 7-0 in Region 6) take on “my” South Gwinnett Comets (5-5 Overall; 4-4 in Region 8). I know most people reading this would assume that I would go with the Comets to pull the “minor” upset (knowing that I am a graduate), but this is a Dangerous game for them. Alpharetta does a great job against the run and should be able to stop South’s Quarterback Malik Brown. If South’s offensive line can provide gaps for Malik to run through (as well as Wide Receiver Corey Keel making plays down the field), than South has a chance in the game. I don’t think it’s’ going to happen, I am going to take Alpharetta by 10 points.
In the next “No-Brainer” game of the week, Archer High School (10-0 Overall; 8-0 in Region 8) take on North Forsyth (7-3 Overall; 4-3 in Region 6). I understand that Archer is a “newer” school and their student body can’t come up with original chants (which they also take into the gym for their basketball teams), but they need to get behind their football program. Archer has the top-notch athletes to be this “generation” Brookwood and/or Parkview, but they need to get more support (not only from the students), but the community as well. Archer has too many weapons on offense to not win this game and by a “Heavy” margin. If this game goes into the fourth quarter with a close margin, it could go either way, but I like Archer by two touchdowns.
In the final “blowout” game of the opening round, The Norcross Blue Devils (8-2 Overall; 7-1 in Region 7) take on Etowah High School (7-3 Overall; 4-3 in Region 5). Norcross has been the team “on the rise” in Gwinnett County over the last couple of years. I enjoy watching them play and their ability to change schemes as needed. They are well-coached and have a great fan-base as well. Etowah High School has a record of 1-3 in the last four games. They have several potential Division 1-AA athletes, but they are no match for Norcross. Norcross wins this one by 14+ points.
One of the most intriguing games of the night come as the Dacula Falcons (6-4 Overall; 6-2 in Region 8) take on West Forsyth (7-3 Overall; 5-2 in Region 6). This could be the most exciting game of the night with two balanced offense and two mediocre defense units. I am expecting a high-scoring affair in the one, due to the fact that both quarterbacks can throw the ball really well. I have been back-and-forth about this game, but knowing one of my good friends (Scott Soderquist) is an alumnus at Dacula High (Class of 2002), I will take the Falcons in this one by a touchdown. I will be there reporting from the game (if anyone want to come say “hi”)
One of the most “odd ball” matchup of the evening is Lambert High (6-4 Overall; 5-2 in Region 6) taking on the Brookwood Broncos (5-5 Overall; 5-3 in Region 8). Quite frankly…I don’t know a lot about Lambert, but I “do” know a lot about their opponent. The Broncos are coming in with a record of 1-1 in their last two games and need to continue running the ball with Sophomore Running Back Jesse Brown. They can open the play-action pass with the arm strength of Senior quarterback Joey McLane. I have gotten the chance to see Brookwood a lot this year (and had several great friends that are graduate) I should be rooting against them, but I can’t!! Brookwood win by 7.
One of the most inconsistent team in Gwinnett County this year is Peachtree Ridge (7-3 Overall; 5-3 in Region 7). They got the “pleasure” of playing a well-respected program in Lassiter High School (7-3 overall; 6-1 in Region 5). Lassiter has won their last five games of the regular season. I have watched Peachtree Ridge numerous times on T.V. this season and they are a “Roller Coaster” of a team. They tend to play hard against less-talented opponents, but they play “Soft” against bigger opponents. Lassiter has always been prepared when the state playoffs start. With that being said, I am going to take Lassiter by 10, but don’t be surprised if Peachtree Ridge makes it a game going into the fourth quarter.
Another “marquee” game will put Milton (8-2 Overall; 5-2 in Region 5) taking on North Gwinnett (9-1 Overall; 7-1 in Region 7). This could be a defensive and low-scoring game. Both Defensive units can “fly” to the ball and scheme their defensive units really well. Both teams have good running attack and they can manage the clock. This is a coin-toss game for me, but I am going against my friend, Brain Herrel (who graduated from Milton) and pick North Gwinnett by 7.
The “BEST” game of the opening round of the state playoffs (that involved a Gwinnett County team) has to be Collins Hill (9-1 Overall; 7-1 in Region 7) taking on Walton (6-4 Overall; 5-2 in Region 5) Before I get emails or tweets saying that I am smoking something, let me explain myself!! Even though, Walton has 4 loses, they are the BEST 4-lost team in the state. Running Back Karekin Brooks has rushed for over 1,200 yards and 16 total TDs. Defensive End Kyle Whitaker has had a “Monster” junior season with 49 tackles and 4.5 sacks. Collins Hill is the team that has played consistent within the last couple of years and they always come prepare in the playoffs with their unique play calling. Whereas, I think Collins Hill is a better team; I like the “Heart & Dedication” of Walton High. With that said, I think Walton will win this game in OT by a field goal!!
Those are my predictions for the eight Gwinnett County teams that will be a part of the AAAAA high school football playoffs. In case you didn’t read the article (which I hope you did), my picks are as followed:
– Alpharetta over South Gwinnett
– Archer over North Forsyth
– Norcross over Etowah
– Dacula over West Forsyth
– Brookwood over Lambert
– Lassiter over Peachtree Ridge
– North Gwinnett over Milton
– Walton over Collins Hill
Until next week…
*Kurt Johnson is a HS Sports Blogger for Atlanta Sports Radio 92-9 The Game in Atlanta. You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on twitter at @kjexperience