2020 GHSA Football State Playoffs Preview
The 2020 Georgia High School Association football season is down to its final five weeks as the state playoffs are set to begin this Friday. Despite multiple games having been postponed or cancelled throughout the season, teams shutting down their programs late in the season, overall it has been a successful season thus far. And now, as the post season gets set to begin, we take a look at the opening round of the playoffs and preview some matchups to keep an eye on.
Class 2A and 4A Games Moved to Saturday
Earlier in the week, GHSA announced that all playoff games in classifications 2A and 4A would be moved to Saturday. The move comes as the association has had to deal with a shortage of officials for the opening round, so moving the above mentioned classifications allows GHSA to adequately schedule officials needed. Teams will agree upon the start time of their games so check with your local school officials for updates on game schedule.
All eight of the 2019 GHSA state champs have advanced to the playoffs in hopes of successfully defending their titles, however reclassification sees multiple teams competing for a state title in a news classification.
Last season’s 6A champs, the Harrison Hoyas have been moved up to 7A and with the No. 3 seed, will open up on Friday against No. 2, Newnan. It was a rough start to the season for Harrison as they dropped their first five games of the season, including their region opener against North Cobb. The Hoyas were able to close out the season winning three of their four region games to finish 3-2 in the standing along with Walton, who they loss to 28-14. Harrison faces a Newnan team that had their perfect season end with a loss to East Coweta in a game that also determined the 7A region 2 champion. The Cougars came up short when an extra point attempt that would have tied the game and possible sent it into overtime, was blocked allowing East Coweta to get the 27-26 win. The Hoyas can expect Newnan to come in with a very big chip on their shoulder and looking to make a statement.
The Buford Wolves were the 2019 5A champs but also found themselves moved up a classification as they are now competing in 6A. The Wolves have been quietly dominating their opponents with the exception of their season opening loss to North Cobb in which they fell to the Warriors 28-14. Buford went on to win their next eight games to finish the regular season at 8-1 and grab the 6A region 8 title and No. 1 seed out of the region. In their eight wins, the Wolves have scored an average of 42.9ppg and have only allowed roughly 3.8ppg. Buford will open up on Friday against the Douglas County Tigers. The Tigers started off with five straight wins, including their first two region games, however struggled down the stretch of regular season dropping their final two games to Rome and Carrollton, both region match ups. The Tigers’ defense has shown throughout the season that they can be very stingy when it comes to giving up points, but going up against a high powered Buford offense, Douglas County will have to establish themselves on the defensive side early and keep the game manageable.
The three time defending 4A Champs, the Blessed Trinity Titans, have also moved up a classification to 5A and will host Chapel Hill on Friday. The Titans had their Covid-19 related challenges during the season. Their match up against Marist, which was scheduled for September 11, was cancelled after a Titans player tested positive for the virus. The Titans then had their scheduled shifted around when players from opposing teams contracted the virus, forcing those games to be rescheduled or cancelled, including Cartersville’s forfeit back on October 28th. Despite all the drama surrounding the Titans’ schedule, they managed to finish 6-0 and win the 5A region 7 title and take the No. 1 seed out of the region. Chapel Hill has had their struggles throughout the season, finishing 6-4 but midway through the season, put together a string of victories, winning four straight games.
In 3A, the Cedar Grove Saints, the two time defending 3A champs, come in as a very dangerous No. 3seed. The Saints were actually on target to possibly finish the season with a perfect record and the region 5 title, but due to an ineligible player, the Saints were forced to forfeit four of their wins, which included three region games. The Saints will open up on Friday against the No. 2 seeded Monroe Area Hurricanes. After dropping their season opener, the Hurricanes rolled off six straight wins before stumbling against Oconee County, the eventual region 8 champs. The Hurricanes responded to their 35-16 loss to OC by closing out the season winning their final two games and capturing the No. 2 seed. With the Saints having to give up their wins, they will be a dangerous opponent as they will want to prove that despite the ineligible player, the wins they had to give up, would be wins they would have gotten even without him.
The defending 2A champs, the Dublin Fighting Irish, are now down a classification to 1A Public and join the defending 1A champs, the Irwin County Indians. Both teams come in as No. 1 seeds as Dublin opens up against Terrell County and Irwin opens ups against Jenkins County. Both Terrell County and Jenkins County had up and down seasons but Terrell County closed out with a win over Seminole County, so they will have a little momentum behind them heading into Friday’s match up with Dublin. Dublin finished up 9-1, winning eight in a row after losing in their season opener. Meanwhile Irwin wrapped up the regular season 7-3 winning seven of their last eight after losing their first two games.
The 1A Private five time defending champs, Eagle's Landing Christian Academy returns to the 1A Private playoffs in hopes of capturing their historic sixth state title in a row. This is the first season that the Chargers head into the post season with more than one loss since the 2015-16 season when they finished 11-3 overall, but went undefeated in region play. This season, the Chargers finished 6-3 overall and 3-0 in region play. ELCA will open up against Aquinas in the first round who wrapped up the regular season at 7-3. The fighting Irish opened the season with seven straight wins, all non region games, but then dropped all three of their region contest.
A Few First Round Games To Watch
- No. 2 North Gwinnet vs No. 3 Cherokee
- No. 1 Colquitt County vs No. 4 Brookwood
- No. 2 Langston Hughes vs No. 3 Northside-Warner Robins
- No. 2 Griffin vs No. 3 Jonesboro
- No. 2 Ola vs No. 3 Coffee