The first round of the playoffs in Class AAAAA lacked one thing: an upset.
None of the No. 1 seeds were beaten and only one was in a competitive situation.
Two of the No. 2 seeds lost, but neither loss was a surprise. (Carver, the No. 2 seed from Region 6 plays Clarke Central on Saturday.)
So while the first round lacked any drama, it sets up what could be a pretty amazing schedule of second-round games. How does this lineup sound for next week: The Clarke-Carver winner vs. No. 2 Stockbridge, No. 10 Griffin at Arabia Mountain, No. 9 Loganville at No. 6 Ware County, Bainbridge at No. 4 Rome, Jones County at No. 1 Buford, No. 3 Carrollton at Thomas County Central, No. 7 Woodland at No. 8 Grady, No. 5 Kell at Starr’s Mill.
If you’re keeping score at home, the second round features each of the top 10 teams from the final regular-season rankings and four others who were in the rankings at one point this year. Of those remaining, only Starr’s Mill, Clarke Central and Carver failed to crack the rankings.
So next week ought to be fun.
The first week? Not so much.
Highlights from the first round:
Magnificent Morton: One of the individuals who showed out the most on Friday was Griffin quarterback Tylan Morton, who helped the No. 10 Bears (10-1) win their first playoff game under coach Antonio Andrews. The senior completed 23 of 31 passes for 381 yards and five touchdowns in a 56-49 shootout win against Warner Robins. In the process Morton broke the Griffin record for career touchdowns, as well as yardage and touchdowns for a single season.
Ware County sweats one out: In the only really competitive game involving a region winner, Ware County hung on to beat Ola 35-28 in The Swamp. Ware led 35-7 at halftime before Ola mounted a second-half comeback. Ola scored with 1:57 remaining, failed to recover an onside kick but got the ball back with 37.4 seconds remaining. But the Gators doused any dreams of upset with a quarterback sack to end the game.
Historic night for Woodland: The Wolfpack ripped New Hampstead 39-6 in its first home playoff game. Kareem Rogers and Chris Charles both ran for two touchdowns to lead Woodland (9-2). Savannah-based New Hampstead (3-7-1) lost in its first playoff appearance.
No sweat for Stockbridge: The No. 2 Tigers (11-0) got three touchdowns from Jalen Holston, another from Wesley Guilford and a touchdown pass from Gabe McKenzie in the lopsided win over South Effingham (1-10).
First playoff win for Arabia Mountain: The Rams, who dropped out of the rankings after losing to Lithonia in the final game, recovered with a 34-14 win over Villa Rica. Arabia Mountain (9-2) were also making their first appearance in the playoffs. The Rams scored two third-quarter touchdowns to break open a 19-14 game — Brandon Snowball on a 1-yard run and a 59-yard pass from Samad Noble to DeAnthony Garrett. Arabia Mountain earlier scored on a 27-yard pass from Noble to Joshua Campbell and 15-yard run by Carl White. Snowball also scored on a 3-yard run. Villa Rica (5-5) scored on a 97-yard fumble recover by Christian Farmer.
Rome, Carrollton and Kell advance: The three state powers Region 7 each advanced with ease. Rome (9-2) clobbered Miller Grove 56-0 to quickly end the Wolverines’ first trip to the playoffs. It was Rome’s first home playoff game in eight years and the Wolves celebrated by having eight different players score touchdowns, with Jamious Griffin accounting for 123 total yards and one touchdown. Kell (8-2) overcame a 3-0 halftime deficit before recovering to defeat Southwest DeKalb 31-22 behind a pair of long touchdown runs from Josiah Futral and two touchdown passes from John Lampley. Carrollton (10-1) hammered Lithonia 48-20.
Little opposition for Buford: The No. 1-ranked Wolves (11-0) were led by running back Anthony Grant (173 yards, three touchdowns) and quarterback Mic Roof (136 yards passing, two touchdowns) in a 45-7 win over North Springs. The Spartans had their first winning season and made their first playoff apperance since 1998.