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November 30, 2012

Column: Friday night fever

VALDOSTA — I start today’s Friday Night Fever column by saying this will be the final one of the year, and likely ever. Christian Malone and I have agreed on a new format for our high school football picks for next season, so this column won’t be necessary. With the new system, we hope more media members throughout South Georgia will join us in our weekly competition. So stay tuned next August.

As for tonight’s action, the Valwood Valiants host the Westwood Wildcats in the GISA Class AA State Championship Game, while the Brooks County Trojans visit the top-ranked Calhoun Yellow Jackets in the GHSA Class AA state quarterfinals.

For this week’s picks, Christian and I have picked all four Class AAAAAA quarterfinal matchups, along with the Brooks-Calhoun matchup in Class AA.

Currently, Christian and I are both 69-18 on the season, and this week will decide our 2012 pick ’em winner. Since this is the last column, I will reveal the winner on Twitter (@Ed_Hooper) late tonight or early Saturday morning.

Since Christian and I are tied, and we have the possibility of being tied in the overall standings, so we have picked the Brooks-Calhoun game and given a point total for that game, which we will use as the tie-breaker.

Here are our picks, followed by a few notes on this week’s playoff action:

Ed: Mill Creek over North Cobb, Camden County over Norcross, Parkview over Colquitt County, North Gwinnett over Lovejoy and Brooks County over Calhoun (64 points).

Christian: Camden County over Norcross, Colquitt County over Parkview, North Gwinnett over Lovejoy,  North Cobb over Mill Creek and Brooks County over Calhoun (69 points).

 Playoff notes and thoughts:

— Although I picked the Packers to lose tonight, don’t be surprised if we have a Camden County-Colquitt County rematch next weekend in Kingsland. The Packers are one of the best playoff teams in the state of Georgia since head coach Rush Propst took over the program, while Camden County is a slight favorite tonight over top-ranked Norcross (because of home field advantage).

— Brooks County has a tough test tonight when the second-ranked Trojans visit the top-ranked Calhoun Yellow Jackets. The Yellow Jackets are led by Gatorade National Player of the Year Taylor Lamb. The 6-foot-2 senior quarterback has thrown for 2,801 yards with 30 touchdowns this season to lead the reigning Class AA champion Yellow Jackets back into the playoffs.

— Calhoun beat Brooks County 43-30 last year in the state playoffs and later won the state championship over the Buford Wolves. Since the loss, the Trojans have wanted revenge against the Yellow Jackets. Tonight, the Trojans get their chance. Calhoun is allowing an average of 14 points per game, but allowed 35 points twice and 41 points once earlier this season. If the Trojans can get their offense going, which could be tough after a 5 1/2 drive up the interstate, then they could put up some points tonight against Calhoun.

— Valwood hosts Westwood tonight in the state championship game tonight at Goddard Field. The two teams met on Oct. 19 in Valdosta, and Valwood pulled away in the fourth quarter to earn the 48-18 win. Despite the 30-point win, Valwood coaches and players will tell you that the game was much closer than the final score indicated. Remember, Valwood only led 13-6 at the half, and with tonight’s game deciding a state champion, it would be closer than some believe.

— Don’t forget about Valdosta State. Remember, the Blazers host Carson-Newman in the NCAA Division II national quarterfinals on Saturday at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium. Kickoff is set for noon.

— While you could see a Region 1 rematch between Camden County and Colquitt County next week in the state semifinals, there is a chance that Mill Creek and North Gwinnett, two Region 7 rivals, could meet in the semifinals, too. Mill Creek is at North Cobb tonight, which dominated Valdosta in the opening round, while North Gwinnett visits Lovejoy, which would have hosted Lowndes in the second round if it weren’t for the Vikings’ upset loss to Marietta.

Thanks for letting us be part of your Friday mornings during football season these past few years with the pick ’em column, dating back to when Adam MacDonald wrote this piece. Be on the look out next year for the newly formatted picks from Christian and I, and possibly some other media colleagues from throughout South Georgia.

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