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Georgia High School Football Daily-12/04/12

December 4, 2012
By Calvin Scandrett of Lamar County Trojans

Spotlight: Semifinal Surprises

Pollsters off the mark with Whitewater

The state playoffs have reached the semifinals. Is it what we thought?


Only 19 of the 28 semifinal were ranked in the final regular-season poll, but just one team - Whitewater - didn't spend at least one week in the Top 10 during the season.


To objectively measure our surprise, we came up with a "confidence rating" that expresses our expectation that a team might make the semifinals. The formula considers preseason ranking, final regular-season ranking and total weeks in the rankings. If you're mathematically inclined, the formula goes like this:


N = 3 x [(11 - preseason ranking) + (11 - final regular-season ranking) + total weeks in the rankings]


The most points a team can get (meaning no surprise) is 99. The least is 0.


To make for fair comparisons, we listed the Class A teams separately because they played only two rounds instead of three.  


Note that preseason No. 1 teams Northside, Sandy Creek and Calhoun are still alive. Only twice in history has more than two AJC preseason No. 1 teams won state titles. Those were 2001 (Parkview, Statesboro, Buford) and 2006 (Peach County, Charlton County, Lincoln County). Preseason polls began around 1970.


1. Whitewater (confidence rating: 0)

Despite a 12-1 record and Region 4-AAAAA championship, Whitewater is the only semifinal team that has not been ranked this season. The Wildcats have been ranked only three weeks in school history, which began in 2004. The reason for this year's snub was Whitewater's schedule. Until the quarterfinals, Whitewater had not played a team that was ranked at any point this season. The Wildcats proved themselves with a 24-3 victory over No. 10 Allatoona.


2. North Cobb (6)

North Cobb was not ranked in the preseason or final regular-season AAAAAA rankings but did spend three weeks at No. 6 after a 49-17 victory over 2011 state runner-up Walton. The Warriors - who hadn't won a playoff game since 1979 - were written off after a 27-26 loss to South Cobb on Oct. 5, which was followed two weeks later by a 49-17 loss to McEachern.


3. North Hall (9)

The Trojans were ranked for two weeks this season but were jinxed by the honor, as they lost their next game both times - to Jefferson on Sept. 14 and Buford on Nov. 9. Last week, North Hall blew out the preseason No. 1 team in AAA, Peach County, 52-10.


4. Ridgeland (12)

Ridgeland lost its opener to No. 1 Calhoun of Class AA 42-35 but has won 12 consecutive games. The Panthers finally made the rankings on Nov. 5 with an 8-1 record and entered the playoffs ranked No. 9. They have scored at least 35 points in all 13 games.


5. Monroe Area (21)

Monroe Area broke into the rankings after a 4-0 start and got as high as No. 4 but lost 35-0 in the final game of the regular season to Eastside. Region 8-AAAA had been clinched, so there was no harm, except that the Purple Hurricanes fell out of the GHSF Daily/AJC rankings. The Associated Press kept them at No. 9.


6. Ware County (21)

Ware lost to Coffee 21-14 in its opener and didn't make the AAAAA rankings until Nov. 5 with an 8-1 record. The Gators stood No. 6 entering the playoffs. They beat No. 9 Stephenson 14-0 in the quarterfinals in their first game against a ranked opponent above Class A this season.


7. Jefferson (27)

Jefferson lost to a mediocre Class A team, Commerce, 22-7 in the opener. If not for that, Jefferson probably would've been ranked No. 3 entering the playoffs. As it stood, the Dragons got in the rankings Oct. 7 after beating previously unbeaten Washington-Wilkes and finished at No. 7. Jefferson beat No. 4 Fitzgerald 53-51 in the quarterfinals.


8. Gainesville (45)

Gainesville was ranked No. 8 in preseason, and it would've been higher except for concern that the Red Elephants were moving up two classifications to AAAAA. They remained ranked after losing their opener to AAAAAA West Forsyth but were dumped after losing their final two regular-season games, one to 2-8 Loganville.


9. Greater Atlanta Christian (48)

GAC was ranked No. 8 in preseason and No. 9 in the final regular-season AA rankings. The Spartans fell out briefly after losing to Chamblee in overtime on Sept. 13 but remained ranked after losing to No. 1 Thomson on Oct. 5 and No. 10 Lovett on Nov. 9.


10. Cartersville (48)

There were only 13 undefeated teams after the regular season, but Cartersville - coming off a 5-5 season - was ranked only No. 6 in AAA entering the playoffs. The Purple Hurricanes had not played a ranked team. They finally got to see one last week in No. 1 Thomson. Cartersville won 21-13.


11. Norcross (57)

The Associated Press saw something in Norcross in preseason that GHSF Daily did not and ranked the Blue Devils No. 6 in AAAAAA. Norcross remained unranked in the AJC poll until a 2-0 start. The Blue Devils were ranked No. 2 in both polls entering the playoffs. Norcross is in the semifinals for the first time.


12. Lovejoy (63)

Lovejoy moved  from AAAA into the highest classification and was unranked in the AP's preseason poll but started and finished at No. 7 in the AJC poll and remained ranked all 13 weeks. The Wildcats fell back for a time after losing to Colquitt County on Sept. 8.


13. Colquitt County (66)

Coming off three consecutive semifinal appearances in the highest class, Colquitt was ranked No. 2 in preseason. The Packers lost their third game on Oct. 27 but controversially remained ranked by GHSF Daily/AJC when abandoned by the AP poll. The Packers entered the playoffs at No. 9. They've made their fourth straight semifinal, something no school has done in the highest class since Valdosta in 1971.


14. St. Pius (72)

St. Pius started No. 4 and finished No. 7 and remained ranked all 13 weeks in AAA despite close losses to Thomson on Sept. 14 and Woodward Academy on Oct. 26. The Lions beat No. 4 Washington County 40-35 in the quarterfinals.


15. Lamar County (75)

Lamar started No. 5 in AA (No. 2 by the AP), dropped to No. 9 after the opening-game tie with Spalding, and slowly crept back to No. 5 entering the playoffs. The Trojans beat No. 8 Lovett 35-28 in the quarterfinals.


16. Marist (87)

Marist started No. 4 but was promoted to No. 2 after the first game because of upsets to Burke County and Carrollton. Marist remained No. 2 the rest of the way despite a loss to AAAAA Thomas County Central. Marist beat No. 10 Carrollton (the preseason No. 3) in the second round and current No. 4 Stockbridge in the quarterfinals.


17. Buford (90)

Despite moving up in class and graduating 21 of 24 starters, Buford started No. 2 (breaking a five-year streak of starting No. 1) and finished No. 3 in the regular season. Buford lost early to Gainesville of AAAAA and had two victories overturned by forfeit for the inadvertent use of an ineligible player. Neither affected the rankings much. Buford has made six consecutive semifinals.


18. Northside-Warner Robins (99)

Northside was ranked No. 1 in AAAAA from start to finish in the regular season. The AP ranked 2011 AAAA champion Tucker No. 1 in preseason. Northside defeated Tucker 23-20 in the quarterfinals.


19. Sandy Creek (99)

Sandy Creek was ranked No. 1 in AAAA from start to finish in the regular season. Sandy Creek led from wire to wire in 2010 in winning a state championship.


20. Calhoun (99)

Calhoun has been ranked No. 1 in AA from start to finish. Calhoun, the 2011 AA champion, was ranked No. 1 in preseason for the first time.


Class A

1. Dooly County (3)

Dooly spent one week in the rankings after a 2-0 start but didn't return after a loss to Wilcox County. Dooly didn't win its region but did get a No. 5 seed.


2. George Walton Academy (12)

George Walton spent four weeks in the rankings but finished unranked after a 7-3 regular season. George Walton beat No. 10 and previously unbeaten Walker 37-7 in the quarterfinals.


3. Prince Avenue Christian (27)

Prince Avenue spent nine of 13 weeks in the rankings but finished unranked after an 8-2 finish. Prince Avenue avenged one of those losses last week with a 24-7 victory over No. 3 Athens Academy.


4. Landmark Christian (30)

Landmark, the 2011 runner-up, was No. 3 in preseason but dropped out after an opening loss to Calvary Day. Landmark beat No. 8 Calvary Day 38-24 in the first round.


5. Emanuel County Institute (69)

ECI was No. 9 in preseason (unranked by AP) and No. 2 (No. 4 AP) after a 9-1 finish, its only loss to Washington County of AAA.


6. Wilcox County (69)

Wilcox County was No. 5 in preseason and No. 5 at the end of the season bounced wildly, getting as high as No. 2 and dropping out altogether for two weeks during an 8-2 season.


7. Lincoln County (81)

Lincoln County started No. 3 and finished No. 4 and stayed in the rankings throughout despite a loss to AA Washington-Wilkes that dropped the Red Devils to No. 9 for a week.


8. Eagle's Landing Christian (96)

ELCA was ranked No. 2 in preseason (No. 1 in AP), dropped to No. 3 (No. 6 in AP) after a loss to AAA Washington County, but got the No. 1 ranking on Sept. 11 and held it until the end.

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On The Web


In This Issue
Spotlight: Pollsters off the mark with Whitewater
List: Schools with the most semifinal appearances
Trivia: Cities with two teams in the semifinals
Playoff Scores, Pairings
GISA Championships
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Most semifinals

Schools with the most appearances in state semifinal games (including 2012):


29 - Valdosta

25 - Lincoln County

22 - Carrollton

19 - Gainesville

18 - Marist

17 - Buford

15 - Commerce

15 - Dalton

15 - Thomasville

14 - LaGrange

13 - Americus

13 - Clinch County

13 - Warner Robins

13 - Washington-Wilkes

11 - Lovett

11 - Statesboro

11 - Thomas County Central

11 - Thomson

10 - Clarke Central

10 - Dublin

10 - Richmond Academy

10 - Tucker


Note: Semifinal appearances by predecessor schools such as Athens (Clarke Central) or Lincolnton (Lincoln County) are not included.


Four cities have two schools each in the semifinals. Which cities are they? (Answer Wednesday)


Answer to Monday's question: The three coaches in the semifinals who are working at their high school alma maters are Kevin Kinsler of Northside-Warner Robins, Paul Standard of St. Pius and Mark Ledford of Wilcox County.

Playoff Scores, Pairings



Lovejoy 21, North Gwinnett 6

North Cobb 42, Mill Creek 35

Norcross 34, Camden Co. 20

Colquitt Co. 31, Parkview 15



North Cobb at Lovejoy

Colquitt Co. at Norcross




Northside, WR 23, Tucker 20

Ware Co. 14, Stephenson 0

Gainesville 64, Harris Co. 13

Whitewater 24, Allatoona 3



Northside, WR at Ware Co.

Gainesville at Whitewater


Class AAAA


Monroe Area 47, South Effingham 8

Sandy Creek 31, Burke County 20

Ridgeland 45, Mary Persons 14

Marist 15, Stockbridge 7



Monroe Area at Sandy Creek

Marist at Ridgeland


Class AAA


Buford 31, Carver, Columbus 7

Cartersville 21, Thomson 13

North Hall 52, Peach Co. 10

St. Pius 40, Washington Co. 35



Buford at Cartersville

North Hall at St. Pius


Class AA


Jefferson 53, Fitzgerald 51

GAC 27, Early Co. 24

Calhoun 49, Brooks Co. 7

Lamar Co. 35, Lovett 28



GAC at Jefferson

Lamar Co. at Calhoun


Class A (public)


Lincoln Co. 28, Wilkinson Co. 22

Dooly Co. 34, Seminole Co. 28

Emanuel Co. Institute 21, Trion 10

Wilcox Co. 39, Marion Co. 21



Dooly Co. at Lincoln Co.

Emanuel Co. Institute at Wilcox Co.


Class A (private)


Prince Avenue 24, Athens Acad. 7

Landmark 38, First Presbyterian 24

George Walton 37, Walker 7

ELCA 42, Savannah Christian 7



Landmark Christian at Prince Avenue

George Walton Academy at ELCA

Jefferson coach T. McFerrin is in the semifinals with his fifth school, which sets a Georgia record that he had shared with Mike Hodges and Charlie Winslette. McFerrin has made the quarterfinals with seven schools, also a state record. We had McFerrin's number of semifinal schools wrong in a recent issue. ... Greater Atlanta Christian running back Kyle Scales rushed for 121 yards in the 24-21 victory over Early County in the quarterfinals. Jefferson's Wesley Simonton blocked a field goal attempt by Fitzgerald in the final seconds of regulation of Jefferson's 53-51 three-overtime victory last week. We had their names wrong in Monday's issue. ... Johns Creek quarterback Skye Overton is the Region 6-AAAAAA athlete of the year. We had Overton listed as a member of the first team and not one of the players of the year on Monday. ... North Hall's quarterfinal game last week was the school's fourth in history. The others came in 2004, 2006 and 2007. Trion has won state championships in 1957 and 1974. Its quarterfinal appearance this season was the school's first since 2003. We made errors in the playoff histories of those schools in recent issues.
GISA Championships

Class AAA

Deerfield-Windsor 27, Heritage School 19: Kh'Ron McClain rushed for 269 yards and two touchdowns to lead Deerfield-Windsor of Albany to its third state championship in five years and its fourth in school history. McClain and Ke'Marvin Pitts combined to bat away Heritage's last-gasp pass into the end zone from the 14-yard line on the final play of the game to preserve the victory. McClain also broke the school's single-season rushing record, which had been held by Tony Zenon, who is now at Georgia Tech. Deerfield-Windsor finished the season 13-1, with its only loss a 23-14 setback against North Florida Christian on Aug. 31. Heritage's Candler Rich rushed for 105 yards on 23 carries, had five catches for 144 yards, including a 73-yard touchdown, and returned a kickoff 85 yards for a score. It was the first appearance in a state final for Heritage (11-2), a Newnan school in its seventh season of football.

Albany Herald story


Class AA

Valwood 48, Westwood 13: Khary Paige rushed for 179 yards and two touchdowns and Jake Lastinger passed for 94 yards and had two first-half TD passes to Char Merine as Valwood of Valdosta rolled past Westwood to complete the first undefeated season in school history. It was the first championship since 1999 and the fourth overall for Valwood (14-0), which was playing in the final for the first time since 2006. Westwood took an early 6-0 lead, but Valwood scored on its next three possessions to take control of the game. The Valiants recovered a fumble in the end zone in the closing seconds of the first half, and Dashon Day scored on a 25-yard run on the fourth play of the third quarter for a 35-6 lead. Westwood of Camilla has eight state championships, including the 2010 and 2011 titles in Class A. The Wildcats finished 11-3, with two of the losses coming against Valwood.

Valdosta Daily Times story


Class A

Frederica Academy 34, Robert Toombs Academy 30: Frederica Academy of St. Simons Island scored four fourth-quarter touchdowns after trailing 30-7 with 11 minutes remaining. Frederica had beaten Robert Toombs 28-0 in the final game of the regular season. The championship capped an 11-2 year for the Knights, who were competing in their first full season. Coach Clint Morgan's team went 3-0 in 2011 in its inaugural season. It was the first appearance in a championship game for Robert Toombs Academy (8-6) of Lyons since 2005, when the Crusaders lost to Thomas Jefferson after winning titles in 2003 and 2004. 


Football recruiting fair to be held at Atlanta Technical College

The 2012 Fall Metro Atlanta College Football Recruiting Fair will be held at Atlanta Technical College on Dec. 4 (8 a.m.-4 p.m.) and Dec. 5 (8 a.m.-noon). Colleges from across the country will be in attendance, looking for football players from the class of 2012 and 2013. Bring copies of your prospect sheet, player highlights, transcripts, and official test scores if applicable. NCAA and NAIA schools, junior colleges and prep schools will be in attendance. There are only 80 slots available for high schools. For more information, go to www.fresports.com or contact coach Ahmand Tinker (atinker@footballrecruitingexpos.com or 706-412-3556) or coach Tim Glanton (timglanton@footballrecruitingexpos.com or 404-429-6220).


FCA Football Recruiting Fair to be held in Tifton

The 2012 Fellowship of Christian Athletes - South Georgia/North Florida College Football Recruiting Fair will be held at Moultrie Technical College in Tifton on Dec. 10 from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Colleges from around the country will be in attendance, looking for football players from the class of 2012. Bring copies of your prospect contact sheets, player highlights, transcripts and official test scores, if applicable. NCAA and NAIA schools, junior colleges and prep schools will be in attendance. There are only 60 slots available for high schools. For more information, contact Chuck King (cking6202@gmail.com or 770-881-6202) or Rusty Massey (rmassey@fca.org. or 229-289-5538).


South East Georgia Recruiting Fair to be held in Kingsland 
Fellowship of Christian Athletes is hosting the 3rd annual South East Georgia Recruiting Fair, which will be held at Camden County High School's Athletic Offices on Tuesday, Dec. 18 from 9 a.m. until 12 p.m. The school is conveniently located off I-95 just 30 minutes north of Jacksonville, FL. NCAA and NAIA schools, and junior colleges will be in attendance. Bring copies of your prospect sheet, player highlights, transcripts, and official test scores if applicable. Space is limited and those showing without an RSVP will be last on the priority list for being accommodated. For more information or to RSVP, contact Toby Crews (tcrews@fca.org or 912-281-9510)


Strength Clinic to be held Jan. 11 at Marietta High

The 6th Annual Georgia Strength Coaches Association Strength Clinic will be held on Jan. 11 at Marietta High School. Registration is $55. A complete listing of speakers, online payment and more information can be found at www.gscaclinic.blogspot.com. You can also contact Jay Floyd at floydrj@troup.org with any questions.

About Us
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and owned by Todd Holcomb and Chip Saye. Holcomb is a former lead high school football writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and co-founder of the Georgia High School Football Historians Association. Saye is a 25-year veteran of the newspaper industry who has covered high school sports for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Athens Banner-Herald, Anderson (S.C.) Independent-Mail and Gwinnett Daily News.

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