Each day this week, we are looking at the playoff draw for one of the five classifications, continuing today with Class AAA. Here are five interesting facts about each of the 16 games, with an emphasis on playoff history. Which coach is going for his 300th victory in Georgia this week? Find out below.
Favorite: Sandy Creek
Best draw: Burke County
Worst draw: Gainesville
Best first-round matchup: Dalton at Gainesville
Drew (7-3) at Burke County (9-1)
- Burke County has the No. 2 scoring offense in Class AAA at 46.6 points per game.
- Burke County head coach Eric Parker is 43-15 in his five seasons in Waynesboro. That represents the best five-year run in school history.
- Burke County reached the Class AAA semifinals last season, losing to Carrollton 49-14. It was the third trip to the semifinals for Parker, who also led Laney there in 2002 and 2004.
- Drew, Clayton County's newest school, is in its third season. The 7-3 finish represents the first winning season, and this will be Drew's first playoff game.
- Drew coach Jarrett Laws previously coached at Mount Zion of Jonesboro, where he led that school to the Class AAAA quarterfinals in 2008.
LaGrange (4-6) at Woodward Acad. (7-3)
- Both teams have first-year coaches. Donnie Branch was a longtime football assistant and head baseball coach at LaGrange. Woodward's John Hunt is a former SEC assistant coach under Steve Spurrier at Florida and South Carolina. The only other head coach in the Class AAA playoffs in the first season at his school is Milan Turner of Thomson.
- Woodward Academy is 16-5 at home in the playoffs over the past 20 years. Winning on the road has been a little tougher, as Woodward has lost 11 consecutive road playoff games since 1993.
- LaGrange is in danger of having consecutive losing seasons for the first time since 1966-67.
- LaGrange is 7-3 in road playoff games since 2001 but did lose at White County 28-20 in the first round last season.
- LaGrange and Woodward have played twice, with LaGrange winning both - 12-6 in 1968 and 20-0 in 1969.
Franklin County (6-4) at Allatoona (10-0)
- Franklin County has clinched its first winning season since 2000, the last time the Lions won a playoff game. They beat Forsyth Central 14-13 that year in the first round.
- This will be Franklin County's 12th consecutive playoff game played on the road. Franklin hasn't played a home playoff game since 1992, when it got a visit from Takeo Spikes, Robert Edwards and Washington County.
- Allatoona is in its fourth season. This is the Cobb County school's first 10-0 season and region title (7-AAA).
- Allatoona has played one playoff game. The Buccaneers lost 24-17 to St. Pius at home in the 2010 first round.
- These schools have never played in football. This will be Franklin's longest road trip since Carrollton in 1999. This will be Allatoona's most far-away opponent since Grovetown in 2009.
Mary Persons (8-2) at Amer.-Sumter (6-4)
- Mary Persons head coach Rodney Walker has 301 victories, but 299 in Georgia. He can become the 9th or 10th coach to win 300 in Georgia. Marist's Alan Chadwick also is sitting on 299.
- Mary Persons has achieved a winning season in 10 of the past 11 years, but only once won nine games in that time (9-3 finish in 2003) and advanced no further than the second round.
- Americus-Sumter won its first playoff game in 2010 with a 28-16 victory over Washington County.
- Americus-Sumter has clinched its second consecutive winning season after six straight losing seasons upon opening in 2004. The winning seasons are the only ones with Michael Pollock as a head coach. He is a former coordinator at Valdosta.
- These schools have never met in football, although Mary Persons played Americus nine times, winning four, and played Sumter County twice, winning both, once by forfeit.
Dalton (4-6) at Gainesville (9-1)
- Dalton has population of 33,128. Gainesville has a population of 33,804. This is according to US Census Bureau figures for 2010.
- Dalton is 1-6 in state finals and 52-36 in playoff games. Gainesville is 0-5 in state finals and 54-41 in playoff games. This is according to GHSFHA figures through 2010.
- Gainesville won its 27th GHSA region title and third straight this season. That's the most region titles without a state title of any Georgia school.
- Dalton has won 21 region titles and would've played for a 22nd in the Region 7-AAA title game but was forced to forfeit four games because of the use of an ineligible player. Another result is that Dalton's streak of winning seasons likely is over at 51.
- Dalton leads the series with Gainesville 3-2. The two have met in the semifinals (then called the North Georgia Championship) three times. Dalton won in 1966 and 1978, while Gainesville won in 1982.
Monroe (5-5) at Baldwin (8-2)
- Baldwin has made the quarterfinals in 1983, 1986, 1993, 2005 and 2008, but never the semifinals.
- Baldwin is 8-2 since 2000 in home playoff games but is 1-4 on the road.
- Monroe of Albany made the playoffs four of the past six seasons, but only six times since joining the GHSA in 1968. Monroe played in the all-black Georgia Interscholastic Association for at least 20 years before that.
- Monroe's best finish was a 10-2 record in 2006.
- These schools have never played each other in football. Baldwin has not played any of Dougherty County's four schools.
Butler (8-2) at Sandy Creek (10-0)
- Butler is 0-2 against playoff teams, both losses not close. Butler lost to Washington County 49-12 and Burke County 35-0.
- Butler is in the playoffs for the first time since 2003 and seeking its first playoff victory since 1987. Butler was 0-10 from 2006 through 2009 until going 7-3 and 8-2 the past two seasons under coach Ashley Harden.
- Sandy Creek is one victory short of becoming the fourth school to win 40 consecutive games. Others are Buford (47), Parkview (46) and Lincoln County (44).
- Sandy Creek is trying to become the 11th school to win three consecutive state titles. Sandy Creek would be the second to do it while spanning two classifications. Buford is the other (2001-03). Sandy Creek won AAAA in 2009, AAA in 2010.
- These schools have never played in football. In fact, Butler has never played a game in metro Atlanta, nor played against a metro Atlanta school since losing to Westminster 13-0 in 1964.
Cedar Grove (7-3) at Troup (8-2)
- Cedar Grove had not won a state playoff game since 1991 (but won region playoff games in 1992 and 1994) until the breakthrough of 2010, when the Saints made the quarterfinals.
- A victory would give Cedar Grove its first back-to-back eight-win seasons since 1991-92. Cedar Grove made the Class AA final in 1992, losing to Cartersville.
- Troup has lost seven straight playoff games since the 2003 quarterfinals.
- All three Troup County high schools are in the playoffs. They include Troup, LaGrange and Callaway. Troup has a chance to be the last Troup County team standing for the first time since 1987.
- Cedar Grove opened in 1972, Troup in 1956. They have not played each other in football.
Columbia (6-4) at Carrollton (9-1)
- Carrollton has reached the playoffs each season since 1988 and won five region titles in the past eight seasons.
- Carrollton had not advanced past the quarterfinals in the state playoffs in 12 years until breaking through to the championship game in 2010, when the Trojans lost to Sandy Creek 14-7.
- Columbia is assured of back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 1996-97, when its coach was Ron Sebree, the current athletics director of DeKalb County Schools. That's also the last time Columbia won a playoff game.
- Columbia reached a state final in 1981, losing to Waycross, when its coach was Ray Bonner, the current head coach of Cedar Grove.
- The schools have never played in football. Carrollton is 10-2 all-time against DeKalb County teams with victories over Tucker, Marist and St. Pius.
Washington Co. (7-3) at Stockbridge (8-2)
- This will be the first playoff game ever played at Stockbridge.
- Stockbridge, a Clayton County school that started football in 1964, has made the state playoffs only twice, in 2010 and 2011. Stockbridge made the region playoffs (now the equivalent of the first round) in 1983 and lost to Woodward Academy 41-0.
- Under Kevin Whitley, who was Creekside's coach in the Eric Berry era, Stockbridge is assured of back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 1994-95.
- Washington County is 4-0 at home and 0-4 on the road or neutral sites under Joel Ingram, the Golden Hawks' coach since 2006.
- Washington County is unranked, but its losses are to Statesboro (10-0), Thomson (9-1) and Burke County (9-1).
Worth County (5-5) at Peach County (9-1)
- Worth County's golden era was 1984 to 1991, when the school reached six semifinals and four finals and won a state title in 1987. Since then, Worth is 5-11 in postseason games and has not advanced past the quarterfinals.
- Worth County has finished 6-5, 5-6 or 6-6 each season since 2007, and will be hard-pressed not to do it again this season.
- Each of the past four Peach County head coaches who lasted five seasons has won 50-plus games in his first five seasons. Those are current head coach Chad Campbell (53-8), Rance Gillespie (51-15), Rodney Walker (51-10) and Neal Rumble (51-11).
- Peach County has made the state playoffs each of the past 21 seasons. Only Carrollton with 22 years has a longer streak among Class AAA schools.
- Worth County leads the series with Peach County 6-5, although Peach has won the past five meetings starting in 1996 and most recently in 2009.
Monroe Area (8-2) at Ridgeland (6-4)
- In 2010, Monroe Area made its first state playoff appearance since 1969 and reached the quarterfinals, losing to eventual champion Sandy Creek 41-0. Before that, Monroe Area's most recent postseason victory had been a region semifinal (the equivalent of a first-round game today) in 1985 against Franklin County.
- Monroe Area's record in 2008-09 was 0-20. Monroe Area's record in 2010-11 is 19-4.
- Ridgeland is the biggest beneficiary of Dalton's four forfeits. Ridgeland would've been 5-4 and needing to beat Cartersville to qualify for the playoffs. Instead, Ridgeland is 6-4 and seeded No. 2 in Region 7-AAA.
- Ridgeland is in the playoffs for the sixth straight season, a school record, but is 1-9 in the postseason games, its only victory coming against Carver of Atlanta 33-0 in 2008.
- These schools have never met in football. It will be Monroe Area's longest trip north since a game with the McCallie School of Chattanooga in 1971.
Perry (7-3) at Cairo (8-2)
- Perry's Stacy Harden, who was offensive coordinator at Warner Robins before getting the Perry job in 2009, is one of four coaches hired in '09 who have put their Class AAA teams in the playoffs both seasons. The others are Baldwin's Dexter Copeland, Troup's Charles Flowers and Americus-Sumter's Michael Pollock.
- Perry is 13-8 under Harden. Perry was 3-17 in the two seasons before he arrived.
- Cairo is trying to reach the quarterfinals or better for the fifth straight season. No other Class AAA school has a streak that long. Those in other classifications that can do it are Buford, Carver (Columbus), Grayson, Lincoln County, Lovett and Wilcox County.
- Cairo's losses are to Class AAAA playoff teams Thomas County Central and Bainbridge, both by scores of 17-14. Cairo is 45-4 against Class AAA teams over the past five seasons.
- Cairo is 5-0 all-time against Perry. The schools met as early as 1968 and as recently as 2009.
Cedartown (8-2) at Stephens County (8-2)
- Cedartown has clinched its first winning season since 2003.
- Cedartown's most recent road playoff win came in 2002 - against Grayson. That was before the Rams became a Class AAAAA school.
- Stephens County is 29-32 all-time in playoff games but is looking for its first playoff win since 2007 - when the Indians beat Cedartown 41-10 in the first round.
- Each of Stephens County's past six home playoff victories have come against schools that start with the letter 'C.' They include Cartersville, Cedartown, Chestatee and Carver of Atlanta.
- Cedartown and Stephens County have played each other in the playoffs four times, all between 2000 and 2007. Each won two games.
Shaw (5-5) at St. Pius (10-0)
- St. Pius is 10-0 for the third time in its history. The others came in 2009 and 1967.
- St. Pius went from 1968, the season of its state championship, until 2003 without winning a playoff game. St. Pius is 9-7 in the playoffs since then with a best finish in 2006, when the Lions made the Class AAAA semifinals and lost to Northside of Warner Robins 20-17.
- Shaw made the playoffs each season from 1998 through 2008, but this is the Raiders' first appearance since then.
- Shaw won a state title in 2000 under Charlie Flowers, now the head coach at Troup.
- This will be the first time these schools have met in football. St. Pius has never played a Columbus school.
Henry County (6-4) at Thomson (9-1)
- Henry County has made the playoffs each of the past five seasons. Before that, Henry County had played in one postseason game since 1954.
- Henry County has never won a playoff game on the road. The 0-2 record consists of first-round losses the past two seasons to Thomasville (44-0) and Baldwin (14-7).
- Thomson's first-year coach is Milan Turner. He won a state championship at Emanuel County Institute in 2007. He is one of two coaches in the AAA playoffs who won state titles in Emanuel County. The other is Carrollton's Rayvan Teague, who won at Swainsboro in 2000.
- Thomson's 509 points scored are the fourth-most in GHSA history for the regular season, but second-most in 2011 behind Camden County's 549.
- This will be the first time these schools have met in football.