All eight region champions advanced to the second round, in most cases without much trouble. The average margin of victory for the No. 1 seeds was 23.3 points, and only two of the games were decided by fewer than 16 points.
There were some exceptions, however. Region 6 champion Harrison needed a 44-yard touchdown pass from Gavin Hall to Micah Davis with 44 seconds remaining and then a late defensive stand to preserve a 33-28 victory over Alexander. Region 5 champion Mays was tied with Sequoyah 28-28 in the third quarter before pulling away for a 48-28 victory. And Region 1 champion Lee County led Richmond Hill 26-14 in the third quarter and held on for a 29-21 win.
Six of the seven No. 2 seeds that played on Friday also advanced. The one team that failed to advance was Region 4’s Stephenson, which lost to Heritage-Conyers 20-7. It was the second first-round exit in three years for the Jaguars, who reached the quarterfinals last season.
Brunswick, the No. 2 seed from Region 2, will try to make it 7-for-8 when it faces Northside-Warner Robins on Saturday at Glynn County Stadium.
Here are more observations from the first round:
– There will be a new champion in Class AAAAAA this season as defending champion Valdosta was knocked out by Glynn Academy 27-3. The Wildcats’ first-round loss was their fifth in seven years, and the 4-7 record this season was their worst since the 2006 team finished 1-9. All of the other defending state champions are still alive. Grayson (AAAAAAA), Rome (AAAAA), Cartersville (AAAA), Cedar Grove (AAA) and Benedictine (AA) cruised into the second round, and Class A champions Eagle’s Landing Christian (private) and Macon County (public) had first-round byes.
– The only region that went 3-1 in the first round, remarkably enough, was 3-AAAAAA, which sent the same four teams to the playoffs that went 0-4 in the first round a year ago. Evans, Heritage-Conyers, Grovetown and Lakeside-Evans lost their playoff games last season by a combined score of 218-38. But that was against powerful Region 1. The Region 4 contingent was much kinder this season. Evans, Heritage and Grovetown advanced, while Lakeside was knocked out by top-ranked Tucker 55-7. Northside can give Region 1 a 3-1 weekend if it beats Brunswick on Saturday.
– Grovetown’s 35-27 victory over Lovejoy was the Warriors’ first playoff win in school history. The Augusta-area school opened in 2009 and had not reached the playoffs until last season, when it lost at Northside 52-0 in the first round. Grovetown also set a school record for victories in a season by improving to 7-4. The Warriors were the only higher-seeded team pegged as underdogs by the computer Maxwell Ratings, which had projected Lovejoy as a five-point favorite. Grovetown stopped Lovejoy’s Zion Custis for no gain at the 3-yard line as time expired to preserve the victory.
– Looking ahead to the second round, there will be two matchups between ranked teams. No. 6 Douglas County will travel to ninth-ranked Alpharetta, the Region 7 champion. Top-ranked Tucker will be at home and face either fifth-ranked Northside or No. 8 Brunswick. Tucker has reached the quarterfinals or better eight times in the past 10 seasons and won state titles in 2008 and 2011.
Here are the first-round scores and the matchups for Round 2:
Douglas County 13, Dalton 6
Alpharetta 40, Gainesville 24
Coffee 52, Effingham County 32
Evans 69, Drew 32
Allatoona 27, Hughes 7
Dacula 42, Pope 14
(R1 #3) Northside, W.R. at (R2 #2) Brunswick (Saturday)
Tucker 55, Lakeside-Evans 7
Centennial 48, Lanier 14
Mays 48, Sequoyah 28
Grovetown 35, Lovejoy 27
Lee County 29, Richmond Hill 21
Winder-Barrow 36, Chattahoochee 7
Harrison 33, Alexander 28
Heritage-Conyers 20, Stephenson 7
Glynn Academy 27, Valdosta 3
(R5 #2) Douglas County at (R7 #1) Alpharetta
(R1 #2) Coffee at (R3 #1) Evans
(R6 #2) Allatoona at (R8 #1) Dacula
Northside-Warner Robins/Brunswick winner at (R4 #1) Tucker
(R7 #2) Centennial at (R5 #1) Mays
(R3 #2) Grovetown at (R1 #1) Lee County
(R8 #2) Winder-Barrow at (R6 #1) Harrison
(R3 #3) Heritage, Conyers at (R2 #1) Glynn Academy