Cook Hornets (7-3) at Lamar County Trojans (9-0-1)
After finishing last year with a 12-1 record, the Lamar County Trojans underwent a coaching change this past offseason, after coach Jason Strickland left to take the same position at Fitzgerald. With an open coaching vacancy, the Trojans went out and found a prime candidate, Tucker’s Franklin Stephens. In five seasons at Tucker, Stephens had a 64-6 record and won two state championships, including last year, when he guided the Tigers to a perfect 15-0 record and the Class AAAA title.
Now, Stephens has guided the Trojans to nine straight wins since starting the season with a 3-3 tie against Spalding. Since the tie, the Trojans have averaged 41.3 points per game and have allowed just 7.8 points per game in a weak Region 4-AA. Cook finished fourth in Region 1-AA, following a loss to Early County last week. In recent seasons, the Hornets have been able to find success as a fourth seed. In fact, the Hornets are 4-0 as a fourth seed in the first round of the state playoffs since 2007, when they beat Swainsboro 42-27. In 2008, the Hornets beat Appling County 25-10. In 2009, they advanced to the state quarterfinals, where they fell to eventual state champion Buford. Then last year, the Hornets beat No. 1-seeded Pierce County by 21 points (43-22) in the first round.
Macon County Bulldogs (4-6) at Brooks County Trojans (10-0)
The Brooks County Trojans capped off their first perfect regular season in school history last Friday with a 43-14 win over the Berrien Rebels. This week, the Trojans should have no problem getting by the 4-6 Macon County Bulldogs, who needed a win over Taylor County last week to secure the region’s fourth seed. Once the Trojans get through the first round, they will face the winner of the McIntosh County Academy-East Laurens first round matchup.
Pending no major upsets, the Trojans will face reigning Class AA state champion Calhoun in the state quarterfinals. Brooks County was eliminated in the second round of the state playoffs last year, after losing to Calhoun 43-30. Calhoun is the state’s top-ranked team in Class AA, with a perfect 10-0 record, winning by an average of 32.7 points per game.