The first round of the playoffs saw four teams grab road wins and all eight top seeds advance. Region 6 champion Ridgeland’s 21-14 win over St. Pius was the most narrow victory for a region champion (top seed). After a pair of Jalyn Shelton touchdown runs got Ridgeland going, teammate Markeith Montgomery broke a 14-14 tie with what would prove to be the game-winning touchdown run with 22 seconds left before the half. Tanner Hill iced the game in the scoreless second half with a late fourth quarter interception. Shelton controlled the game out of the Panthers backfield, taking 33 carries for 220 yards and two touchdowns.
No. 1 seeds Woodward Academy (42-0), Cartersville (77-14), Mary Persons (45-12), Blessed Trinity (33-0), Jefferson (59-21), Cairo (43-2) and Thomson (57-23) outscored the No. 4 seeds by an average of 40.6 points per game.
Out of Friday’s 16 games, there were also teams that punched their tickets to the Sweet 16 while exceeding expectations. Region 6 and Region 2 are the only regions with three teams still alive. Out of Region 6, No. 2 seed Northwest Whitfield was impressive in its 31-20 win over Oconee County. Northwest Whitfield claimed a 7-0 lead in the first quarter with a 7-yard touchdown pass from Luke Shiflett to Jay Jones. The Bruins added a Dominique Sistrunk 1-yard touchdown and a 25-yard field goal by Vincente Vaca to increase the lead to 17-0 before Oconee County got going. Shiflett added two rushing touchdowns in the second half and the Northwest Whitfield defense got the stops they needed to hold off an ambitious Oconee County effort in the second half.
Heritage-Catoosa wore the No. 3 seed out of Region 6 into its road trip to Stephens County. The Generals have now defeated Pickens and Stephens County in back-to-back weeks and Corbee Wilson continues to shine at the quarterback position.
Sandy Creek defeated Marist for the first time in school history on Friday. The Patriots had lost all four previous meetings before scoring their 23-20 victory.
After a three-game losing streak at the heart of the season, Spalding has now put together a four-game winning streak and defeated Eastside on the road to advance to the second round in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2003.
Second Round Pairings
R6 #2 Northwest-Whitfield at R4 #1 Woodward Academy
R3 #2 Burke County at R5 #1 Cartersville
R6 #3 Heritage-Catoosa at R2 #1 Mary Persons
R1 #2 Carver-Columbus at R7 #1 Blessed Trinity
R2 #2 West Laurens at R8 #1 Jefferson
R5 #3 Sandy Creek at R1 #1 Cairo
R2 #3 Spalding at R6 #1 Ridgeland
R7 #3 West Hall at R3 #1 Thomson